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How do you measure commitment in your leadership?

Employees and business partners look beyond the frosting to judge commitment by leaders, by tasting the cake.

Every so often, coaches need to cancel contracts with clients who feign commitment. As with dating relationships, the beginning of every client engagement is exciting, fresh, and fun-filled with the sweetness of what’s possible in the relationship. When the initial crush fades away, we’re left with the process of assessing commitment. The longer I coach, the more I realize that alignment and agreement about a big opportunity are like frosting, and the commitment to change and grow is the cake. 

Sometimes circumstances change and that requires us to grow

Recently, the ownership of one of our client companies changed. With the ownership change, came a core strategy change. Initially, the team was filled with excitement about having new access to working capital and new customers. The executive team knew the shift was coming – half the team was already making adjustments, but the top leader was inexplicably cautious and quiet.

This tool is timeless and effective in helping leaders grow in ways that are credible to employees and business partners.


It’s moments like this when coaches add a lot of value. We interrupt the sugar high from the frosting to test commitment to the cake with a timeless and fantastic development tool called Start-Stop-Continue. Here’s how it works: everyone around the executive table translates the changes in the business into a personal development plan for which he or she needs to Start doing, Stop doing, or Continue doing to reinforce the shift. It’s the centerpiece of organization transformation. The technique works when the executives are willing to share their Start-Stop-Continue with each other and their teams. Creating open accountability increases the probability of positive change.

It works because employees and business partners judge commitment quickly by observing how effectively leaders make positive changes in their leadership. If the strategy change requires more collaboration and faster decision-making, then people expect to see collaboration and faster decisions. If the top leader goes into isolation and stalls…trust drops quickly, because it means the cake is getting stale. No amount of frosting will save a stale cake. So, if the coaching doesn’t produce measurable change and growth in the client, they have to part ways.

The sooner we can get leaders to create a culture of open accountability, the faster we can help people thrive together as leaders.

What’s changing in your world?

Leaders don’t exist to protect the status quo. If things in your part of the business are changing, how are you changing? If the people crucial to your success can’t see or feel you changing, they may be questioning your commitment.

Send me a note if want to the Good Leadership Start-Stop-Continue coaching tool we use in our business transformation coaching work.

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