How to build committment

Photo by Quino Al
Photo by Quino Al

One of the most difficult terms to translate from English into German is “Committment”. In contrast to the German “Verpflichtung”, the direction is exactly the opposite. It is not the boss who says “Komm mit – Come with me”, but the employee who gives his commitment – he commits himself.

From a leadership perspective, this leads to a special challenge: How do I manage to make him follow me voluntarily?

For a leader, it is of course extremely important that the employees stand fully behind the common mission – but how can this be achieved? Threats and bribery only lead to short-term success.

It helps to take a look at the 6 leadership styles I described in chapter 2.7. There are leadership styles such as visionary and democratic that are more suited to building a bond with the employee.

Commitment certainly cannot be commanded. Even a pace-setting boss will have a hard time dragging everyone behind him. Intuitively such a leader feels it and will have to worry over and over again that everyone is on board and committed. The dilemma is that the pace-setting leadership style destroys commitment.

So how do you create commitment? You need three elements: engaged employees, a clear mission and the development of personal accountability. It’s not all that easy. Especially because all this has to be seasoned with a good portion of a special ingredient: Trust.

The easiest way to find engaged employees. Especially when they are fresh in the company, they will certainly have a lot of enthusiasm striving to prove themselves. After all, they have not joined for nothing. But long-serving employees also develop enthusiasm if you push the right buttons.

The clear mission focuses the forces and gives the employees a sense of purpose. All people are looking for a sense for their actions. We all unleash extra power when we are convinced that our mission makes sense. The “Why?” is a very legitimate question that every leader must be able to answer any time. By the way, you can practice this very well at home with a 3-year-old child. And just like in this case, a flippant “That’s why!” is not really satisfying and therefore inappropriate.

Finally, it comes to the topic of personal accountability. If an employee has understood and bought the purpose of the mission, then you also need to give him the freedom to implement it in his area of responsibility. Micro-controlling is neither fun nor does it help to motivate an employee to work independently – it destroys commitment.

All this is relatively easy to write down, but in the stressful reality often not so easy to implement.

In addition, every employee clicks a bit differently. Some expect clear, analytically understandable target agreements that they can work towards. Others need a higher degree of freedom and are burning for the vision. Here personality analyses help to understand the corresponding types and to steer them according to their personality.

What about you?

  • Have you ever wondered how you can get your employees to take more ownership?
  • Do you sometimes wonder why they don’t follow you?
  • Do you sometimes think “If you don’t do all by myself …!”?


Friendly advice from experience: Constantly reaffirming commitment by repeatedly asking does not work. You might get a verbal commitment, but you need to win the hearts.

Translated with into English supported by DeepL and Grammarly

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