Reliability opens doors, builds trust and engenders confidence in our ability to ‘make stuff happen and get things done’. So why do so many people disregard the importance of reliability and the impact it has on their careers, opportunities and relationships?
“Life is like a game of cards where reliability is the ace card” – Edgar Watson Howe
People inherently value reliability. Every day we place enormous value on things such as reliable internet connectivity, mobile phone service, planes taking off on time, our cars getting us from A to B and our family, friends and colleagues doing what they say they will do.
When these things are reliable, they not only afford us greater efficiency and peace of mind but also help us forge stronger relationships and deliver greater results. Investors, shareholders, leaders, consumers, neighbours and friends all look for reliable people. Why? Because we place great importance on people and businesses who are able to deliver consistently good results time after time and who can be depended upon to deliver on commitments and promises. Fundamentally they make life (and what we do) easier, more enjoyable and more rewarding.
As leaders, recognising this importance and value is critical to our success. A team or business that delivers reliable results is really only a collective of reliable individuals. So with this in mind, business reliability starts with us as leaders and in our ability to engender it in the people we work with. Understanding how our people perceive and regard our reliability can greatly impact our careers, opportunities and abilities to successfully deliver. People are more likely to trust us to get things done with freedom and autonomy on how we deliver; new and fresh opportunities are more likely to emerge; and the quality and depth of relationships and subsequent loyalty built tends to be greater.
Given that a core element of reliability is doing what we say we will do, communication is key. Neil Crofts, a leadership and culture expert suggests that a big reason so many businesses and organisations are perceived as unreliable is a mixture of over ambition, under commitment and a lack of real clarity about what they are communicating. He suggests we need to give greater consideration to exactly what we committing to and subsequently communicating: information, promises or aspirations. Failing to give enough thought to the difference between each can have an enormous impact on how reliable we are considered to be. His example of train services succinctly demonstrates this point:
Information: The next train is going to be 10 minutes late
Promise: We promise 99% of our trains will be on time
Aspiration: Our aim is for 99% of trains to be on time
Since reliability is such a fundamental aspect of our success, we should all be asking ourselves ‘How reliable am I?’ and what can I do to create it? I would encourage you to consider how you can apply the following six actions:
Regardless of your position, title or tenure, reliability can and should be a cornerstone of your reputation. Essentially, we all aim to collect reliable people and avoid the unreliable. Make sure you are worth collecting!
As always I would love to hear your thoughts.
Margot Andersen – The Career Diploma
The roots of courageous leadership are firmly planted in self awareness, ownership and accountability.
Work on strengthening two different aspects of resilience.
When at a career crossroads, give yourself room to imagine what’s possible without any guilt.
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