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Following Through Is An Integrity Test

A leader who does not follow through on commitments will never gain the full trust of the people they are called to lead.

I am not an organizational savant. I have a big picture, big idea outlook on life. My personality drives me to please others, while at the same time moving quickly. As a result—especially in my younger years—my follow-through stunk. I would promise to call someone back, send an email or get a customer’s information and you guessed it—I’d never do it. I used the excuse, “It is just my personality.” In actuality, however, it was an issue of Integrity.

Sales people are notorious for overpromising and underdelivering when it comes to following through on commitments. As a sales leader for 15 years in the corporate world, I watched individuals consistently make commitments and then drop the ball. The individuals who did this were not bad people. They were just forgetful and disorganized people. As I have grown older (or chronologically superior, as my Dad likes to call it) I've realized this trait does not only affect salespeople or certain personalities.  Lack of follow through affects a majority of people in business - including leaders.

A leader who does not follow through on commitments will never gain the full trust of the people they are called to lead.

Think about commitments we make every day:

  • I will follow up with you next week.

  • I’ll get you data by the end of the day.

  • I’ll check on why your paperwork is held up in HR.

  • I’ll be at your next game.

  • I’ll pick up the kids from school tomorrow.

  • I’ll take out the trash.

Each time we make a commitment at work or at home, it is a test of our Integrity. Do we follow through? Our personality or instincts may make it hard for some of us to act on our promises. Our schedules are likely overcommitted. But, in the minds of the people we are called to lead, we erode trust when we drop the ball.

I used to blame my personality, but now I choose ownership. What excuses do you use when you should be following through?  When I realized my lack of follow through was an Integrity issue, I stopped blaming my personality and began making changes.

I still am not a detail-oriented person. This means I will drop the ball periodically. But, I have created for myself an established system to help me with my follow-through. I have also begun to guard what I commit to doing. Anytime my follow-through is needed or implied, I now see it as an Integrity test. Each time I pass one of those tests, I strengthen my Integrity and am there for the people I am called to lead.

Dig Deep Questions:

  • How seriously do you take your commitments to others?

  • How often do you use excuses to wiggle out of them?

  • What commitments did you make this past week that you need to be sure to keep?


Taking responsibility and exercising Integrity is a lifelong journey for not only you, but your team. We want to partner with you as you make Integrity part of your organizational culture. When it comes to remembering the definition of Integrity, let us help to make it easy to keep it visible.

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