This article is part 3 of a many part series treating the Marine Corps Leadership mnemonic, JJDIDTIEBUCKLE

Dependability: The ability to carry out what is expected of you consistently.

Isn’t this a better trait of for “followership”? I say no. I have noticed that a significant amount of training in organizations focuses on how to get your job done, from the follower’s perspective. We do very little, however, in the workplace to effectively prepare people for leadership. Managership, sure. But actually wielding power, creating buy-in, caring for others, and creating long-term relationships is something organizations struggle with.

For instance, when was the last time you saw leadership traits and practices actually measured and managed. As in, if you are a terrible leader, your job is on the line?

I thought not.

Working for someone who is inconsistent, changes their word, misremembers facts, or lets the course of the week drive their mood is awful. The opposite experience is glorious. But the former experience is all too common.

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved”. I grew up in a world where this George MacDonald quote was repeated with some frequency and it affected my worldview. As I grew older, this belief was challenged by those who teach that to be loved should be the prime focus and should be independent of action.

But experience has shown me that love has to be based on something. It’s a response to perceived value. Dependability is a serious motivator towards love, be it romantic or fraternal. In military parlance, we call it someone “having your 6”. It’s an incredible experience to really know you can trust those you work with.

Want your team to “love” you? Be dependable. When you promise an action, make that action happen.

As a leader, another way to look at dependability is called “being authentic”. As a leader, you need to remove the “who am I dealing with today?”

How do you achieve dependability? The easiest way has two parts. 1) Surround yourself with people who will give you honest feedback, regardless of your rank or position, 2) Have the intestinal fortitude (courage) to listen and not punish them. The world and corporate America has more than enough would be dictators with fragile egos who, once they get a little power, wield it like a baton. They forget that eternal truth: while authority is granted from above, power comes from those you lead.

Once you break the trust of those whom you lead, you’ve lit a fuse on your own respectability and much will be the rejoicing when you are gone.

What’s more, as a leader you owe it to yourself to figure leadership dependability out. Data science and machine learning are coming for you. We know that disengaged workforces have enormous costs. Perhaps within the next decade or two, data scientistswill quantify leadership and track your execution of it. And I will be helping them.

Take aways:

1) Surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth.

2) Have the guts to listen and not make them pay.

I’ve been rebranding people through career and life coaching, writing resumes and building LinkedIn profiles for years from my online vacation home at www.careerflex.net. I love public speaking and helping people identify what they want to do with their talents. Preferably we hike a mountain while talking. I can be reached at jake@careerflex.net or (858)522-0194.

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