Volume 125, June 2013: Agreements

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, 2013 ISSN # 1545-8873

“Relationships are about keeping agreements you make, and making agreements you can keep. – Werner Erhard, Founder of est seminars training

Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) fathered the idea of a “Social Contract.” Unlike the written legal version, the social contract is implicit – agreements, customs, and norms that govern our behavior but are rarely surfaced for review. Society organizes people into roles that attach certain expectations. For example, I am a mother, therefore, I am obliged to love my children and make sacrifices for them. Every relationship has an implicit agreement.

Employment is an agreement. Some leaders and teams get caught in promises that they can't keep – but fail to acknowledge this openly. Their social contract needs a tune up. Begin to change your communication with others by talking about agreements. Point out instances where people don't deliver on their promises – meeting deadlines, attending meetings on time, returning a phone call, or producing a report. Make yourself the model of how to apologize when you break an agreement, or change the agreement to one you can keep.

What is essential is to rework the agreement – “I intended to do this, but for these reasons, I cannot.  Here is what I can do …”  This revision preserves and protects integrity.

Practice Point

All teams have norms or implicit rules for behavior. Make these norms explicit by creating ground rules or a team agreement. Notice when you and others are not living up to your agreements and rework them.


Buy MK’s latest book!