Leadership Series (19) Why Leader’s Must Not Overpromise. By Victor A. Imhangbe

images-1

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. (Abraham Lincoln).

This is common with political leader, manager of corporate organisation, head of departments and so on. They tend to over promise and under fulfill such promises. For a politician seeking political position or a board member in an organization seeking his colleague votes to become the company Chairman, the likelihood of promising heaven and earth is there, but in the interest of avoiding undue pressure even after attaining such position, it is advisable for individual to abstain from making impossible promises.

The tendency to make the people happy and earn their votes for instance is an attractive venture to a political office seeker; to promise the people of his/her agenda to cut income tax. Care must be taking to consider the feasibility of the propose tax cut and other alternative source of government to fund its budget. Using America Presidential candidates as example:

The six GOP candidates whose plans have been analyzed by the Tax Foundation have proposed an average of $6.5 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade. Here is the foundation’s list and the size of the proposed tax cuts (before considering effects on economic growth): Rand Paul: nearly $3 trillion; Rick Santorum: $3.2 trillion; Jeb Bush: $3.7 trillion; Marco Rubio: $6.1 trillion; Bobby Jindal $11.3 trillion; Donald Trump: almost $12 trillion. Even using the Tax Foundation’s aggressive method for calculating the economic effects of these plans, only one GOP tax cut comes in under $1 trillion (Paul squeaks in at a mere $956 billion).These promises are almost always accompanied by pledges to balance the budget. How will the candidates make the math work? Can someone suggest a way out? They don’t ever say!

In proffering a sustainable answer to the above, I will say making promises base on economic statistical facts and having the political and economic will to implement the necessary policies for the benefits of the people is commendable. However when such promises is purely based on emotions that is when it becomes a problem. In reality, there’s no mechanism to prevent politicians promising whatever they wish to promise other than the voters’ sense of what is right or feasible. Since it’s the voters, not the politicians, who have the power to elect, it’s with the voters that corrective action should be sought.

It was in light of this I pointed out in my introductory page how the follower can actually determine an effective leader. This will only be possible when electorate have better education that would help a population distinguish nonsense from reality, to tell when someone is falsely promising the moon. But you can’t really educate emotions out of people. They can have any number of reasons that are important to themselves, but are not necessarily good for the country as a whole. The bottom-line is education is probably not enough to solve the issue, only to ameliorate it to some extent. Access to vital information by the electorate will contribute positively in deciding whether to allow over promising leader to take center stage.

Unfortunately, the negative effects of making impossible promises are lesser if perpetuated by a political leader compare to their spiritual counterpart. Remember I discussed source of leadership power earlier which was focused on: spiritual, political and economic leadership. According to an elaborate article by “THE SILO” which is titled “Religious Leaders making Money from Impossible Promises: Chasing 120 Book”.

It reveals the atrocious practice by religious leaders and to be specific a “Christians Pastor”; Dr. Tyler Belknap; they are smartly dressed on TV in impeccably-cut suits, with a picture-perfect smile and a never-ending supply of smooth rhetoric. Dr. Tyler Belknap is the epitome of a charismatic, fast-talking preacher who has convinced his cult-like following that, with the help of his Bible-based program, they will enrich their lives with maximum health and longevity.

According to Monte Wolverton’s; newly-released debut book, Chasing 120: A Story of Food, Faith, Fraud and the Pursuit of Longevity – a story of intrigue and truths and a remarkable tale of what can happen to people’s dreams when they put their faith in a high-profile religious leader rather than God.

Dr. Tyler Belknap; from his vast Oregon-based Wellness 120 empire, Tyler Belknap charms and targets Christian consumers, influencing them to dig deep into their pockets – enticing them with Biblical-sounding promises of a healthier life following his recommended regimen. While some believe their health is improved, others suffer serious side effects after taking his specially formulated supplements and GMO’s that are developed in a secret underground research facility in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. But this does not deter Dr. Belknap who keeps this information from the public by bribing city officials and politicians – and who will stop at nothing to keep whistle blowers at bay.

But as much as the fast-talking doctor would like his followers to stay in a state of confusion, he’s not able to keep the negative effects of GMO’s from hitting the news and the public eye. People hear that results from studies done on lab animals cite serious findings, such as, organ damage, immune system disorders, infertility – and yes, aging! Ironically, the polar opposite of Belknap’s claims of longevity !

I was a victim of a university over-promising and rarely delivering. It is a university where I did my Post Graduate Progamme. The effect of this led to constant acrimonious disagreement often time. Honestly, over promising and rarely delivering can get any organisation in deep trouble and lust of trust; forget the short term monetary gains that will soon evaporate into thin air. This is what is obtainable whether you are in education, healthcare, financial services, staffing, management consulting, but more prevalence in software industries.

Personally, I feel it is better for companies to take priority in under-promising and over-delivering. This is because in reality, costumer’s emphasis is high on satisfaction, unfortunately, over-promising won’t give any satisfaction, but over-delivering. As leader; any time we indulge in over-promise and under-deliver we find ourselves in tight corner and confused; and left the follower’s with disappointment, dissatisfied, and disgruntled. Disgruntled people lead to increased agitation. This in turn leads to increased lack of confidence by the people that actually entrusted you with their votes.

Even for business entity; “when we over-promise and under-deliver we end up with disappointed, dissatisfied, and disgruntled customers. Disgruntled customers lead to increased churn. Increased churn leads to a shrinking business. A shrinking business leads to death”.Jeremie Bacon. (2016). In a nutshell, every time when over-promising and rarely delivering occurs, it breaks down the trust the customer has in your brand. Way out is to be modest in making a statement of claim and assertions you are unsure it can be achieved. Ensure you are conservative in your projections. Focus all your energies behind the scenes, work your tail off to exceed what your customers thought was possible. They will love you for it and stick with you forever!

The world is about to witness the inherent evil in making promise by a leader without the intention of fulfilling them. Take the just concluded America Presidential election that was won by Donald Trump of Republic Party. According to Eugene Scott, the acclaimed billionaire is already about to walk away from his campaign promises, even when he is yet to be sworn in; These are issues related to Obamacare, deportation of Muslims and Immigrants and so many other facade he used to get massive vote. The impact of over promising;by Donald Trump, to attained exalted public office of trust  will be an interesting subject for political analyst in America history.

The above analysis has gone a long way to expose the negative effect and unnecessary pressure in making promise you are not sure of fulfilling by a leader. Our next series will focus on how diligent can make a great leader. Your opinion and feedback is appreciated on the comment column. Do you like the piece? It’s always good to share.

Source: