It’s a simple concept, but following through on promises made—big or little—is a challenge for a lot of people, including me! I may be able to point to my white hair and use my age as an excuse for forgotten commitments, but no matter the reason, not following through on something you said you’d do is damaging to your reputation and influence.
Even if it’s “little stuff,” friends, colleagues, employees, and customers alike quickly lose confidence in people who over-promise and under-deliver. Friends and colleagues stop relying on people who can’t be trusted to keep their word. Employees lose motivation to do their jobs well when they discover they cannot depend on their leader. And when customers don’t get the service or product they expected, they very quickly take their business elsewhere.
As my friend and colleague Mike Dewey says, “The impact of broken promises is corrosive in the extreme.”
Of course, following through and doing exactly as you promised isn’t always possible. While you should always try not to over-promise or make impossible commitments, when you do encounter a situation where you’re unable to deliver 100 percent (or when you realize you forgot to do something you said you would), don’t just throw up your hands and say, “oh well, too late now.” Address the issue, apologize, and press on to find an acceptable alternative outcome. Bottom line: be a person who follows through!
[This article was adapted from Chapter 4 of my book, Be An Inspirational Leader]