Top-Shelf Tip No. 159:

"Making promises and keeping them is a great way to build a brand."

Seth Godin

How To Foster A Culture Of Keeping Promises

From childhood, we're taught to keep our promises. We see it in books and movies, and we're often taught about keeping promises at school and at home. Somewhere along the way, though, we often forget the importance of staying true to our word.

Jonathan Keyser, founder of a commercial real estate broker, says that unreliability is a marker of seniority in the corporate world. When you add in the instant gratification nature of our digital era and the bombardment of competing priorities, we find ourselves in a trustless society. That's why it's important to show that you're a person of integrity—that you do what you say you will do.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Keyser's thoughts on how to practice integrity genuinely and disruptively.

Be clear and realistic. Business people routinely overcommit to impress or win business. Build a new normal by simplifying your commitments. Make them realistic and clear, and set specific deadlines and goals that everyone understands. Build a simple process for tracking and following through on your word. Keyser suggests recording the commitments you make and setting reminders along the way. If you can't keep your word on a specific commitment, be honest about what happened. An attainable, systematic approach to integrity is the most direct path to being the kind of leader that people trust.

Be accountable and coachable. Ask others to hold you accountable to your commitments, recommends Keyser. This requires you to embrace humility and recognize that others can help you keep your promises. Set goals together as a team and hold each other accountable for deadlines and expectations.

For example, Keyser says he likes to recognize members of his team with a "Courage to Disagree" award when they call him out for failing to follow through on his word or live up to their core values. It's especially important for him, as a leader, to cultivate an open environment where nobody is above honest feedback. The more you open yourself up to input from others, the more you can grow into a person that people trust.

Be open and flexible. Needs sometimes arise at inopportune times. We've all inconvenienced others—or been inconvenienced—enough times to know how this goes. Set aside regular time to allow for out-of-the-box requests. One member of Keyser's team builds margin into his schedule, which is extra backup time that allows him to stay on track when unexpected disruptions occur. True integrity shows when it's least expected, so be a flexible resource who can come through in a pinch.

Reliable leaders must remember to be straightforward, accountable and flexible. The more your people can trust you regarding the little things, the more they will trust and follow you when it comes to the big things. Trust is everything, and being true to your word creates that trust.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Jonathan Keyser is the founder of KEYSER, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based commercial real estate broker. He's also an author, thought leader, and guest speaker on disruptive and service-oriented business practices.

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