Perhaps the best place to start is to ask ourselves: “What promises–either through my words or actions–have I made to my team, and am I keeping those promises?”
Every promise has two parts.
First, a promise is something you do or say.
Second, a promise is the understanding or expectation of another.
It is the second part that makes keeping a promise so difficult. It is not just what you say that matters, but how your words or actions are being interpreted in the minds of the people you serve or lead.
What a promise is not.
A promise is not a guarantee.
We cannot control the future. The most we can do in making a promise is to ask others to take the same leap of faith that we are taking, and then do all we can do to follow through on that leap. People understand that not all promises can be kept. Sometimes, in spite of our best intentions, we just cannot come through with the promise we made. The good news is that, for the most part, people know when the fault is ours and when it is not.
The issue when making a promise is to make it clear that it is not a guarantee, but a commitment. For most people, that is enough.