(This post is excerpted from The 5 Coaching Habits of Excellent Leaders.)

The past two posts have addressed the keys to Personal Reliability which provides a booster effect for Reliable Coaching.  In other words, if you are seen as personally reliable, it is much easier to use the 5 coaching habits of excellent leaders.  The equation looks like this:

Personal Reliability x Coaching Reliability = The Reliability Advantage for your team.

In this post, we will address the third key for Personal Reliability.

We live in a world that trains us to meet deadlines, starting in grade school: Your paper is due May 15; college applications are due Oct. 1; finish your community service hours by Aug. 1; taxes are due April 15; the budget is due Nov. 15; your annual goals are due Jan. 15; your payment is due by Feb. 1. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.

Reliable people focus on timelines (when work gets done) to meet deadlines (when work is due). It is common to think that a task will take less time than it actually takes, so why not increase your estimate to ensure it will fit within your existing commitments?

It is better to under-promise and over-deliver. If you make a promise that you can’t keep  because of truly terrible or unforeseen circumstances, let the person know as soon as possible.

Be proactive. Bite the bullet and do not wait until the last minute to tell the other party you cannot do it. If you are late, call ahead to let the person know when you will arrive instead of letting him/her wonder where you are. This shows respect for others’ time and preserves your credibility.

Paul Spiegelman is the former CEO of The Beryl Companies and Chief Culture Officer of Stericycle. He has found a healthy balance between reliability and the award-winning culture he has stewarded at his booming company. Spiegelman explains, “We don’t like surprises. It’s okay to give a leader a heads-up – that shows you are managing to timelines. But if you don’t give a heads-up and you miss the deadline, then you are just managing deadlines.”

“Lee and Julie deliver powerful lessons. As inspirational as it is practical. A vital tool for leaders at any career stage. An extraordinary book!”  

Marshall Goldsmith, The Thinkers 50  #1 Leadership Thinker in the World