In today’s organizations, people expect many things from their leaders, but dependability is not a word that is high on their lists. People expect power plays, unreasonable expectations, skillful politics, and my-career-first sorts of attitudes. But not dependability.
And that is precisely why dependability is so important.
When a leader is dependable it creates a sense of safety in her followers. And safety is something that is in short supply in our organizational cultures.
This is not a “soft skill”. People who feel unsafe act in self-protective ways, which shut out collaboration and are often dishonest. It’s understandable – when your wellbeing is on the line you are likely to act to protect yourself. But a bunch of people acting in self-protective ways makes for a rotting culture.
Dependability involves leaders coming through on their commitments, honoring the values the organization claims, treating people with both individuality and equity and genuinely caring for employees as people who have lives, families, interests, and needs that are outside the scope of the organization.
When people can operate within a thriving organizational culture that feels safe to them, they can venture beyond themselves. This is what allows them to belong, contribute, and make a real and lasting difference.