How Leaders Demonstrate Commitment


Organizations with committed staff and leaders are more resilient and better able to adapt to change and respond to disruption in a flexible and innovative manner. But what is commitment and what does it look like? Commitment is dedication to a particular organization and a willingness to get involved. We demonstrate our commitment to colleagues and staff in many ways, large and small. Here are some ways you can demonstrate your commitment to your team:

  • Do what’s right. Avoid rationalizing to make what’s wrong right in your own mind. While we all work in gray areas, don’t get drawn into the trap of rationalizing and justifying that doing something that is wrong is right. I always ask myself whether I would proudly testify to Congress about my actions.
  • Join committees and working groups. Joining efforts that improve the group wellbeing shows you are committed to the entire organization, not just your own responsibilities. Find at least one activity you can be involved in that contributes to the common good.
  • Show up. Attend celebrations, farewells, award ceremonies and other events in your organization.
  • An open door is not enough. If you are a senior leader, walk around the organization and meet people in their work places. Saying you have an “open door” and expecting everyone to come to you if they need something is not enough. By spending time with people where they actually work and listening and becoming familiar with what they do, you’ll show them how committed you are to their work.
  • Keep your promises. Don’t make a promise you cannot keep and keep the promises you make, no matter how hard it becomes to do so.
  • Make time for people. The more senior you become, the more time you need to carve out on your calendar for the people who work for you. Mentor staff, help them achieve professional and personal success and develop individuals.
  • Focus on team instead of personal achievements. Give credit to team members for a job well done. Celebrate team success. If you receive an award for a major accomplishment, spend some of that award money on the team that helped you win that recognition. When you are promoted, take your team to lunch to say thanks for helping you get there.

How do you demonstrate your commitment?

This blog does not represent official policies of the Department of State or those of the U.S. Government.


Beth Payne is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Mark Hammer

As I prepare to retire from the public service in just 7 working days, one of the things I tell coworkers I will be happy to never hear again is the phrase “exciting new challenge”. It’s the phrase managers use instead of saying “I’m off to a promotion and more money, and leaving you suckers here to pick up the pieces.”

I certainly wouldn’t wish to stand in the way of mobility and career progression, but there is a cost to the progression and mobility of the management class that we don’t always recognize. The next person in line for the role may be every bot as committed, and a genuinely nice and capable person. But as the “new boss”, will keep people on a short leash and be somewhat risk averse until they get their bearings and learn how and why to invest in their staff. The more they move around, the shorter the leash stays.

So, to Beth’s otherwise spot-on list, I would add: STICK AROUND and see things through to the end. Be the shoulders that your staff get to stand on. Develop them, and show your commitment by allowing and facilitating them to add value to the organization.

Beth Payne

I completely agree. I’ve seen the negative impact on a team when the leader leaves before her scheduled time in order to take a better offer.

Mark Hammer

Apocryphal tale.

I was at an employment systems review conference about 18 years ago, and attending one of the breakout sessions from the main plenary hall. It was another rather disappointing equity and diversity session (well-intentioned, but gave no further tools for how to accomplish the goal), and after anhour, as everyone was picking up to leave, I asked the attendees (who were from across the country) “Hands up, those of you that had a local equity/diversity initiative that looked like it was starting to work, and then just ground to a halt. And if it did, why do you think it did?” Almost to a person, they replied that the “champion” of the local initiative got themselves promoted out of the role, and then it just fizzled.

There will always be a need for managers to move “up”, if only to fill the seat of those retiring from important leadership roles with someone who has a demonstrated track record. So I won’t paint the managerial class as simply money-hungry careerists. But at the same time, I think we tend to overlook the cost to the institution and its momentum, of managerial mobility and instability. Stability of leadership and institutional capacity/performance are linked.