Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. –Vince Lombardi
Creating commitment is so important that we can make the case that it is the crux of the matter when it comes to leadership. Exceptional performance, satisfaction, and well-being are directly linked to commitment. And without extraordinary commitment, people and their organizations never reach their full potential.
So, our first research project is focused on commitment at work.
A fun way to introduce the word commitment is to think about bacon and eggs, a classic American breakfast. There are two parties contributing to any bacon and egg meal, right? The chicken and the pig. The chicken is participating in the work. The pig is really committed to the work.
Commitment: the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.
To commit: to pledge or engage oneself.
From the Latin committere: to unite, connect, combine; to bring together.
In a professional setting, commitment is about a person uniting with the work—both the people and the purpose being served—and unleashing one’s full talent in service of that work. What dynamics create that possibility? What factors set this possibility in motion?
THE RESEARCH PROJECT
We want to understand commitment at work, and how people transition from participation to commitment—from “getting a pay check” to being “all in.”
To date, we have conducted research workshops with a number of different groups ranging from members of the Greater Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, to bank managers, to health care professionals, pharmaceutical plant supervisors, and military leaders. We ask participants the following:
“Think about a time in your lives when you felt especially committed to your work—deeply engaged and all in. You were probably working very hard, and yet it did not feel like work. The experience was meaningful and deeply rewarding.”
Participants share the story of this time in their life and then answer the following question:
“What was it about the work or about yourself that created that deep engagement–that commitment–in the work?”
Participants provide a list of the key factors that were critical to creating their commitment in that particular story. We then analyze the responses using a coding process and identify a set of themes that paint a picture of the factors that foster commitment at work for that particular group. This is grounded research, which is to say the themes emerge from the data rather than being imposed beforehand. We provide a summary of the findings back to the participants and then iteratively weave the new data into the overall research.
The resulting insights have the potential to inform how leaders think about fostering extraordinary commitment in others. And because it is impossible to foster extraordinary commitment in others without being committed yourself, this research can help leaders reflect on their own level of commitment.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
You can help by hosting a “Commitment at Work” workshop in your organization. Think of it as a free professional development session. Your team will find it highly engaging and meaningful–and we will collect additional data that will contribute to the quality of our research. As as a participating organization, you will get a copy of the final research report. CONTACT US. [This free offer only applies to organizations within a one hour drive of our base of operations in Cornwall, New York]
We believe that commitment is at the heart of leadership. It is essential for us to understand what fosters extraordinary commitment in ourselves, and it is essential to understand how we can foster extraordinary commitment in those we lead. So, what do you need in order to be fully engaged and all-in with your work? What does extraordinary commitment look like in action for you? Reflect on that. And consider being part of this project.
It is exciting to know that small shifts in commitment can have life-changing impacts.
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