Recently I had the good fortune to get a copy of The Three Commitments of Leadership: How Clarity, Stability, and Rhythm Create Great Leaders by Tom Endersbe, Jon Wortmann, and Jay Therrien. It’s one of the first books I’ve seen on leadership that is written by 3 people, and yet sounded like one coherent voice. Not only that, but it’s a simple to read book too, and one I think business leaders could learn a lot from.
I enjoyed the book so much I immediately wanted to chat with the authors. What follows is our e-mail conversation in interview form with some questions I think will help you on your quest to be a better leader.
Q: Your book is called The Three Commitments of Leadership. Are there really only 3, and how did you boil it down to just 3?
A: We boiled it down to 3 because the adult brain can recall 3 things instantly, sometimes even less in the heat of the moment when the world around you is on fire. We have experienced numerous leadership models throughout the years and even taught them to others, and the problem has always been in recalling a 9 box diagram or 15 important lessons in leadership when they matter the most. By committing to 3 simple things, you can lead your team through any situation and more importantly, create a culture in which you develop a team of leaders. When you make a commitment, it becomes what guides you and the odds of achieving what you want goes way up. Too often we focus on procedure and lose sight of what we stand for, and what really needs our attention.
Clarity happens when a leader knows how to discover what it is that their people are capable of and what they really want to do. They can then set clear targets that allow their people to meet their personal goals while still hitting the company’s objectives.
Stability is when the leader knows how to offer all the resources their team needs, wand while doing so builds a culture of trust and development where people actually enjoy working together.
Rhythm is about the timing in how we work together and interact as a team. When we achieve that cadence in the work we do, it can eliminate distractions which allows us to reduce stress as results are achieved. The commitment to Rhythm is how the best teams produce more in the same number of hours and feel better than they did when they produced less.
Q: Which commitment is most important, and why?
We believe that neither is more important than the others, and they follow no specific order. However we would argue that without Clarity and Stability any Rhythm in place is pure luck. You may be on a team that has perfect Clarity, but lacks the Stability you need to succeed. Your environment could also be perfectly stable yet no one seems to connect on what is possible. The trick is that until both exist, it’s impossible to achieve the cadence of constant development and success that comes with being in Rhythm. If we had to pick only one it would be Clarity since it opens your mind to what is possible. The idea we present that Clarity is found and not given, leads to so much more than simply discovering what is possible.
Q: 3 guys writing a book – and 3 commitments – did you each take one commitment or how did this work?
Jay: Honestly it was pure coincidence, at first. Jon and I collaborated on his first book and we instantly became close friends and business partners. He and Tom were working on another idea for a sales book at the time when I was introduced to Tom, and once the 3 of us connected we started discussing the flaws of leadership models and all the training we had experienced. It was obvious after that initial discussion that each of us had similar ideas on how to “fix it” and as we brainstormed the keys to creating leaders others truly want to follow, the Three Commitments were defined. Since Jon and I live within an hour from each other it was easy to get together and write dueling laptops style on the weekends and send pages to Tom for review and editing. We would then all write and brain dump ideas, and thankfully Jon has a knack for making sense from what Tom and I would babble on about at times! That process, combined with multiple conference calls to review the content, produced the book over the course of a few months. If I were asked to chose only one for each I’d say Tom is Clarity, Jon Stability and I’m the Rhythm guy.
Q: Is the what in the three commitments the most important thing, or is it the why?
Like an overly enthusiastic toddler, we are obsessed with “Why”. We believe others buy into “why” you do what you do, more than “what” you’re doing. It is always about the purpose, and for us that purpose is uncovering the potential that people have to grow, and to provide a new model for creating the environments that will foster that growth instead of stifling it.
Q: Who is your leadership hero, and why?
Jay: Nelson Mandela. Prison is enough to break the will of even the strongest men, so anyone who can survive 27 years of imprisonment and emerge an arguably stronger leader has my admiration and undivided attention.
Jon: My leadership hero is actually a movement: The Underground Railroad. The stories of insanely courageous men and women, black and white, who helped slaves in the American south travel to freedom awes me. I can’t imagine doing what they did; but I hope that I could. If I had to pick an icon of that movement it would be Harriet Tubman, who as a conductor returned south thirteen times tofree dozens of men, women, and children, even though she was an escaped slave herself.
Tom: My Dad. He has spent his life helping people find and reach their true potential. They grow because of his commitment to them and what they are capable of, and he ultimately completed the final chapter of his career as a Superintendent of Schools.
Q: Anything else I missed?
Yes, thank you for not only reading our book, but taking the time to share our thoughts and ideas with your readers! As for The Three Commitments, we truly believe the key takeaway is that the stories in the book tie into the actions we outline that can easily be implemented in any environment. In doing so, these Three Commitments can also act as a filter for the challenges and opportunities you find yourself facing. People are the greatest asset we have, and we need to unleash the talent and benefits of what they have to offer.
Q: Where can I find more information about you guys, and about your fantastic book.
http://www.threecommitments.com is the best resource. From there you can view our blog, speaking and training event schedule, bios and additional resources. You will also find a link to our Change This manifesto “The Best Leader in the World : It Could Be You”.
Ph.D., Fortune Magazine Contributor
Ph.D., Fortune Magazine Contributor
Dr. Tammy Lenski
Dr. Tammy Lenski