The Cart…The Horse…and Commitment: DeMarco Banter


“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
— Attributed to Goethe

While every leader must have financial and human resources to reach his/her goals…commitment should always precede those resources. Would you agree? I am pondering the cart and the horse analogy here…and I smile when I recall the comment of a boom operator right after the 9/11 attacks when we found ourselves in southwest Asia with 5 monstrous KC10 tanker aircraft at an airport and no fuel…I mentioned perhaps we put the cart before the horse… he mentioned he thought he saw the horse back on the ramp in California waiting to get on a perpetually broken C-5 transport…

Commitment is the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. It is also known as a pledge or an undertaking.

When a leader demonstrates a commitment to the mission and goals of the organization, then (I believe) God moves and a whole stream of events begin to flow. Regardless of your spiritual stance…there is a lot to be said to a leader’s sense of commitment… I simply can’t imagine folks lining up to follow an uncommitted leader.

Many employees are more concerned about protecting their status quo than with making bold changes that will propel the organization to higher levels of success. This isn’t because they are bad employees, but because they don’t have effective committed leadership.

The DAC Leadership Framework in interesting, but I am pondering the order of Direction, Alignment, and Commitment. The framework is from the work of William Drath, et el. (2008) as discussed in their Leadership Quarterly article, “Direction, alignment, commitment: Toward a more integrative ontology of leadership.” In the article the authors propose a leadership framework comprising of the following three key leadership outcomes:

Direction. Shared and collective agreement on the vision, mission, goals, and aims of the group. Direction implies change, a change from the current reality towards some future state.

Alignment. The coordination and integration of people, structures, skills, process, and systems to produce collective work in service of the shared direction.

Commitment. The willingness of people to prioritise the success of the collective work above their own interests, to devote their time and energy in service of the shared direction.

I don’t believe the author necessarily intended these to be rank ordered…but I am still pondering the key. Commitment? So many leaders lack commitment today… in fact it would seem our culture almost embraces a lack of commitment….It would seem, however, the most important single factor in individual success is commitment.

Commitment ignites action. To commit is to pledge yourself to a certain purpose or line of conduct. It also implies practicing your beliefs consistently. There are, therefore, two fundamental conditions for commitment. The first is having a sound set of beliefs…do you know yours? There is an old saying that goes, “Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” The second is faithful adherence to those beliefs with your behavior. Possibly the best description of commitment is “persistence with a purpose.”

I might be wrong…any thoughts on commitment and leadership?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: