Building Others’ Commitment to Your Success

Beneath the surface of any leader’s daily actions lies a set of assumptions about what will make the leader successful. Some of the assumptions I’ve repeatedly seen include:


  • I need to have others in the organization give me/my group credit for our contribution and value.
  • I need to show my competence and strategic thinking.
  • I need to focus on the task being done “right”.
  •  I need to overcome opposition to my goals and strategies.


The pitfalls of these typical assumptions about success

When leaders hold these assumptions as true, they remain focused on their own goals and achievement. They may accomplish the goals they’ve set for themselves, but there is a dark side of this style. In pursuing their own goals, they can diminish others, evoke fear or resentment ¬– or just plain indifference. Without realizing it, by ignoring the importance of supportive allies, these leaders are pushing the stone uphill. At the slightest hiccup in their success – a conflict, mistake, or other sign of imperfection – that stone is poised to roll back down on them.


Re-defining success, and what creates it

Every leader I’ve seen is imperfect, and it’s inevitable that they will experience conflicts and mistakes and challenges. When that happens, the outcome can be transformed if they have allies who are committed to the leader’s success and growth. Leadership allies are not minions who are subject to your every wish and goal. Your allies may disagree with you, or get angry at you – but they (and you) will use that as an opportunity to test and push and improve what you bring to the table, because they care about your success. With allies, you’ll be rolling the stone downhill – and they’ll be helping.



Building commitment to your success – the basic ingredients

Here are some components of a mindset that will help you turn your co-workers into allies.


  • Seek to understand and honor others’ viewpoint. Find out about their interests and goals – what they are trying to accomplish, what they think “success” looks like and why. And, find out about their lives and needs – they may not be motivated by the same things you are


  • Help them be successful. Once you’ve understood their goals, you can support them in those. Ask how you can help.


  • Support their growth. Offer them feedback and coaching (but make sure you have their consent before you offer it).


  • Be open about your interests and concerns about others’ actions, including conflicts you have with them. Do you have a concern about what they’re doing or their impact on you? Need or want something different from them?  You may think you need to keep those concerns and disagreements to yourself, for fear of harming the relationship, but harboring them without surfacing them is likely to interject a wedge into your connection with these others.


  • Be willing to be wrong. And stop needing to be right. Take the fall when you need to. Own up to your contribution to problems.


  • Involve co-workers in your thinking and planning. Share your ideas before they’re fully baked, solicit others’ input, and really listen to it.


  • Ask for their feedback on your behavior, style, and its impact on them. You probably have blind spots, ways that others experience you that aren’t what you’re intending. The only way you will learn about these is if others can be bothered to share that information with you.


  • Embrace their views that conflict with yours. “Worthy adversaries” can test and improve your viewpoint.


Effects of this new approach

The ingredients I’ve listed are simple, but they are not easy. They require you to let go of the measures of success that you’ve become attached to, and in fact, to embrace quite the opposite picture of success. But here are some effects of this change that you’re likely to experience.


  • Others will step up to help you in areas where you are weak.


  • Others will rally to help you fix it when you make a mistake.


  • Others will give you constructive feedback that gives you insight into your blind spots.


  • Others will take time to work with you on the issues and initiatives you care about.


  • You will have a broader perspective on your goals, and a broader impact on the organization.


Let us know your thoughts. What do you see as the value – and the challenge – of building a community of leadership allies?

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