Why Leaders Must Deliver on Promises

Setting Expectations

Recently, I purchased a gift basket for an employee who goes above and beyond, day after day. She never seeks praise, but quietly serves others in a way that is admirable. She consistently demonstrates the 9 Qualities of A Servant Leader. The basket we picked was pictured on the website and looked like this:



Yum, right? Full of fresh fruit and other goodies, we thought it would demonstrate some small measure of gratitude for all she has done for others. That picture set our expectations and it seemed a fitting thank you.



Unexpected Disappointments

When she received it, she was grateful. That’s who she is, part of what makes her successful. But then she took a picture of the basket, and I did a double-take. Because here is what it looked like:


Not exactly as advertised, huh?

We were shocked.

A brand isn’t a logo. A brand is a promise. It’s an experience.



This particular business has destroyed its reputation with the experience.

We all know that this destruction can happen with corporate brands. It can also happen with personal brands:

  • When we don’t do what we say we will do.
  • When our promise is nothing but empty words.
  • When the experience is radically different from our hopes.

I’d much rather surprise on the upside.



What would I be writing if, instead of this experience, it was reversed? Imagine if the picture on the bottom was the promise, but the delivery delighted us with the basket on top. I would be a raving fan, telling everyone how incredible this company was. Far better to show the bottom picture and deliver the one on top. Far better to under-promise and over-deliver.

Today I’m looking in the mirror to make sure that what I promise, I deliver – because I have often said that consistently doing what you say you’re going to do is the foundation of integrity. How much better to build a reputation on that than on winning a temporary sale and losing the permanent relationship. My goal is always that my leadership legacy is one that over-delivers and inspires others to perform to their very best.



Here’s to building company and personal brands on doing what we promise. That’s the only way a great brand is built.



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