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Leading With Dependability

Interstates defines dependability as “building relationships through living up to your word and fulfilling your promises.” Dependability is the ability to be relied upon and to be trusted. It’s about always being there and doing your best. A check on your dependability is rooted in the past. It has to do with reputation and the security you pledge against the performance of your obligation as leaders, coworkers, and friends. It is the basis for other’s desire to want to trust you. Cherish and nourish your reputation!

Like reputation, dependability is something you earn over time. It is not something you receive with your job or title. It begins early in your life and career. People may at first give you the benefit of a doubt based on your title, but complete trust will only be granted after they get to know you. The dependability foundation is built “integrity brick” by “integrity brick” over time.

When project deadlines loom, does your supervisor and team know you’ll be there giving your all? Or do they assume you will have some “good” reason for not helping this time? When the client calls with an emergency on Friday night, does your project leader know you are “all in”? Or does he/she know not to call you until Monday? Most telling is day-to-day, year-after-year integrity and performance that proves to others you are reliable, responsible, always there, faithful, constant, rock-like, stable, and to be counted on. That is dependability.

Without a strong foundation of personal dependability, leaders have little hope of enlisting others in a common vision. The stronger you dream, the deeper the foundation must be, especially in uncertain times when boldness may be required, leadership dependability is essential in generating confidence among your constituents. Without it you will not build an organization that lasts.

When I started at Interstates as an intern, my first assignment was to organize the job costs on a “killer job.” It was a Farmville, NC feed mill retrofit. We grossly underestimated that job. What impressed me was Interstates’ leaders never wavered in their intent to fully deliver what was promised to the client, even in the face of greater financial losses. I was grateful to be working for dependable leaders like that. So how do we build on this culture of dependability entrusted to us? Stephen M. R. Covey boils dependability down to four core areas.* The first two involve your character: your integrity (are you consistent?) and your intent (what’s your agenda?). The second two involve your competence: your capabilities (are you relevant?), and your results (what’s your track record?). Read Covey’s book if you would like to assess and build your reputation for dependability.

A reputation for dependability supports the natural human instinct to want to trust. Trust is our topic next time. Until then, I’d love to hear from you. How do you build a reputation for dependability?



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