When you make a promise, you create hope. When you keep that promise, you create trust.
Spinning off this, experience has taught me that trust is indispensible in creating and maintaining healthy relationships. Patrick Lencioni in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” suggests that the absence of trust is where teams first go south…that it’s all downhill from there.
The key is to under-promise and over-deliver, not over-promise and under-deliver. I see a clear pattern of leaders promising too much and then not delivering on those promises which leads to lack of trust, low morale and loss of motivation in working for, and with, such a leader.
Psalm 15:4B is instructive at this point: “…who keeps his oath even when it hurts…” (NIV). Keep it simple by saying what you mean and meaning what you say. As Jesus instructed us (Mt. 5:37 NIV), let your yes be yes and your no be no!
For years I have had the habit of not committing or promising anything until I have had time to pray and think about it. When I say I will do something I fully intend, by His grace, to do it regardless of the cost or time commitment. I want to be a man of my word, not a flake. I want to build trust, not break trust.
Think back on your own upbringing. If you had a parent who often promised he/she would do this or that…take you here or there, you were hopeful and excited, but soon become jaded when those promises were not fulfilled. Even now, as you think back on it, the anger can resurface. Don’t be that kind of parent, leader, team member or employer.