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Going Deeper with The 15 Commitments: Co-Commitment is the Basis of All Great Relationships

Jim Dethmer
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September 7, 2016

Last month in going deeper we talked about the power of commitment and clarifying our commitments. This month we take this concept one step further and introduce the power of co-commitment.  

Our mentor, Gay Hendricks, once said that all relational drama is caused by unclear and unkept agreements and unaligned commitments. This is a powerful statement. Most people think that relational drama is caused by something like a colleague at work stealing your good idea and not giving you credit for it, or your boss not giving you her full attention when you meet, or the legal department being too risk averse.

Not so. Drama amongst teams is rooted in poor agreements and unaligned commitments. [Click to Tweet]

All the rest of it (what we think the drama is about) is just manifestations of these two issues. We’ve talked before about the power of impeccable agreements; now we want to talk about aligning commitment.  

Aligning commitment is a process where two or more people have a conversation to clarify their individual and collective commitments. We take teams through this process as part of supporting them to practice conscious leadership.  

Here’s how it works. Take one of the 15 commitments of conscious leadership. For this discussion let’s use commitment #1: “I commit to take 100% responsibility and to end blame and criticism.” This commitment is about noticing when I’m taking more or less than 100% responsibility and living in victim, villain or hero. It’s also about noticing when I’m blaming or criticizing myself, others or circumstances.  

It’s one thing for me as an individual to decide that this is the way I’m going to live my life. It’s another thing for a partnership or a team to co-commit to living this way on a daily basis.  

Recently we led a leadership team of 25 through this process. It began by making sure that everyone had a clear understanding of what it means to take 100% responsibility and end blame and criticism. Once everyone understood the concept we wrote this commitment on a flip chart and had everyone in the room who was willing to co-commit walk up and sign the sheet of paper. In so doing the leadership team was taking the first step in having an aligned commitment.  

Now with this basis of aligned commitment the team creates the possibility of noticing anytime an individual or group drifts off the commitment, which will happen regularly. When drifting occurs, feedback is given and people who are drifting off of the commitment have the opportunity to recommit. Without alignment at a commitment level the group is not aiming at the same target for how they are going to lead and live in the organization. Once we are aligned and co-committed we keep practicing our commitment, noticing when we drift and shifting back to our commitment. This practice is the cornerstone of conscious leadership and conscious teams.

About the Author
Jim Dethmer

Jim has been coaching leaders and supporting individuals, groups, and organizations to optimize their effectiveness. Potent and practical, he see issues clearly and communicates next steps crisply. Jim works with Fortune 200 CEOs across all industries, and co-authored the book—High Performing Investment Teams—to support his work with leading asset management organizations around the world.