Commitment vs compliance ~ The best leaders exemplify commitment

I remember the commitment my father had to teaching me to ride my bicycle. And I’m currently teaching my son so I get to see this story from both sides.

Riding a bike is super simple; keep peddling and don’t fall. But, as simple as it seems, having someone with you as you master it makes it so much easier.

Sometimes that is the major variable of commitment over compliance.

If I told my son to go outside and ride his bike every day, I’m sure he will eventually get it; albeit possibly in some unorthodox way. However, if I asked him to come outside with me so we could practice riding everyday, the likelihood is that he will be way more enthusiastic, gain from the benefit of my encouragement and experience (I’ve hit a few parked cars in my bicycling career), and probably want to learn to ride and excel at riding.

I want him to learn to ride his bike; and likely more than he knows.

But how does that apply to adults or to leadership?

You ask good questions!

As a leader, I find it so incredibly important for me to be committed to the mentorship and development of those in my influence. I want them to understand compliance; adherence to the rules, systems, and procedures. I want more for them to see my commitment to them understanding it all, and thereby finding their own commitment to the overall cause.

What does that commitment look like?

Honest relationship looks very different from just checking in on someone. When you are truly concerned about the things that someone is dealing with, your commitment to them will show. It will be more than just seeing if they have done the right things, it becomes a journey to make sure they are equipped to do what they believe is right.

Compliance is important. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t examine our success and failure to determine what works best. But, if we didn’t have folks that were committed to the proper outcome, we would never even examine our process. Further, how can we assure that there will be someone else that is committed enough to the outcome if we as leaders can’t show our commitment to those around us.

The easiest way for a leader to ensure the success of those under their influence is to teach the standards and expectations while showing commitment to the people they lead. The commitment opens the door for folks to present their challenges and setbacks which in turn allows a good leader to speak directly to those challenges from experience.

What does that look like?

Rory Vaden, who I also mentioned in the article on procrastination, talks about the 30 to 1 rule when training. Talk about commitment! His use of the 30 to 1 rule is to illustrate a return on time invested but I want to talk about it from the standpoint of commitment.

Imagine if you wanted someone to understand any one thing that you understand (or value it the same). The 30-1 rule says that you should spend 30 times the amount of time it takes to perform a task, to teach someone how to do it.

There are a few things that resound in this practice.

  1. You are ensuring the proficiency of the individual you are training.
  2. Your return on time invested will be well worth it if you spend 150 minutes training someone to complete a 5 minute task that you do everyday (math: 5min x 300 days = 1500 minutes of your time. 1500 minutes over 300 days – 150 minutes training over 30 days = 270 days or 1350 minutes that you have freed your time).
  3. The person you spend 150 minutes with to ensure their success of a 5 minute task is going to feel incredibly valued and your commitment to them will show (and their commitment to both you and the cause will likely increase). <- that!


We can dig a little deeper with procedure vs technique but I will save that for another article.

It makes sense to a kid

I asked my son as I was writing this article, “Which is better, have someone tell you what to do and to go do it, or to tell you what needs to be done and go do it with you?”

He said, “Go do it with you.” That made me curious so I asked, “Why”?

His response was simple and profound. He simply said, “Because it’s the right thing.”

Now I’m curious

I wonder what it would look like if we all showed commitment to each other and our respective causes instead of drilling compliance.

Let me know what you think in the comments…

Let’s be better together,




I am Rashad. I'm an entrepreneur with over 15 years of cultivating relationships, chasing ideas, and over delivering on promises. I want to share some of the things I've learned along the way with you. Hopefully, it will inspire you to define and achieve your personal definition of success.

  • Carlos P

    I don’t think a lot of leaders place emphasis on commitment over compliance, because I think too much time is needed in the process. However, if you want to build someone to succeed, whether it’s your son, subordinate, coworker, friend, etc, this time is valuable and important….like an investment. I thought the article was well written, to the point and expressed ideas that beg practice. Good job.

    • rashadpleasant

      Thanks you!

      I completely agree. It’s an investment on both ends; and a necessary one.