Building Dependability

By Julie Fuimano

What does dependability mean to you? How does it feel when someone does not return your call or email? What happens when someone tells you they'll do something and they fail to deliver? Can you depend upon yourself to deliver?

To be a credible leader and someone others will depend upon to get things done, take your word seriously. You teach others how to treat you as a leader by how you treat yourself. Make a commitment to honor your word, choose your words carefully, and learn how to follow through on all of your promises.

Being Your Word versus Keeping Your Word

Keeping your word is about what you do; being your word is more about who you are or how you are being. It is the congruency of who you are and your actions. Keeping your word means doing what you say you'll do. Both of these are extremely attractive - people like being around leaders who possess these qualities.

Being your word is rooted in integrity while keeping your word is rooted in honesty and commitment. Keeping your word requires conscious effort whereas being your word is your essence - it's who you are at your core and requires no effort. Keeping your word will pave the way for being your word.

Honor Your Word

Make a commitment to yourself to do what you say you will do. Commitment means persisting until completion. It means taking your word seriously and committing to what you say.

Become more aware of what you say to yourself and others through the course of the day. Learning to say less is the precursor for honoring your word. It's much easier to honor your word when you have carefully thought about what you are promising. By promising less, it's more likely you'll be able to deliver. Each time you deliver what you say, you become more credible as a leader and your word becomes more meaningful.

Whenever you use the word 'should', take notice. If you 'should' do something, then either do it or stop saying it and move on. Holding onto the thought by should-ing yourself takes up "mind RAM" and adds stress by robbing you of energy that could be used for more constructively.

If you are responsible to do something, do it. You'll be glad when it's over. If there is something that stands in your way, move it or arrange to have someone else do it. Don't let anything or anyone deter you from becoming a person of your word. Become a leader whom others can depend upon.

Dependability means you are credible and trustworthy and that people can place confidence in you and what you say. It takes time and practice to develop. Each day offers new opportunities to stretch your dependability muscles.

If you truly cannot follow through on a commitment, take ownership for this by letting the other person know. By taking your word more seriously, you will find that you are more confident, your self-respect increases, and you will also receive more respect from others.

Do Not Try…Do

The words you choose make a difference in your believability. You need to believe in yourself and in your word; this is not just about how others feel about you.

To try is not to do. If you were to ask people over for dinner and they said they would try to come, would you cook? 'Try' is a non-committal word. It means that you haven't yet made a decision. So, make a decision.

What choices do you have? Which choice are you willing to commit to?

If you're not yet ready to choose, then say that. Tell the truth. Say you're not sure, that you haven't made a decision. Set a timeframe for making a decision, and stick to your deadline.

Learn To Follow Through

Following through is the most important element of dependability. It means making a commitment and finishing things once they are begun. There is a glorious feeling one experiences when a project is completed. Having unfinished projects is both stressful and energy depleting.

There are several reasons why people don't follow through: procrastination, perfectionism, being overextended, being unable to say no - to name a few. What stands in your way? Learning to become more dependable as a leader means making your commitments a priority and eliminating the barriers that impede success.

When you start something new, create a timeline for completing it. Schedule these to-dos directly on your calendar. Get things off your plate and on your schedule and delegate everything possible. This will help you plan your time to get it done and prevent it from slipping through the cracks.

Before committing to something new, make sure you are willing, able and want to do the necessary work or have the required workforce or resources to complete the task. If you don't want to do it, if you already have too much on your calendar, then say no. Learning to say no will increase your self-esteem, give you more energy, allow you to complete your other projects and free up time for more enjoyable things. Learning to say no is not selfish; it's a requirement for effective life management.

You might say that you cannot say no at work. However, when you've marked your time to complete your current commitments and you know that taking on something new will push the other projects back or make it impossible for you to handle everything without long overtime and weekend work (stressful and unacceptable), then let your boss know. Don't assume s/he knows exactly what you are working on and how much time you have available to spend on something new. Explain that taking on the new project will mean you will not be able to complete the current project in the required timeframe. Then your boss can decide which project is the priority and how s/he wants you to spend your work time.

Learning to 'under promise' is another tip for increasing your dependability. It means promising less and saying it will take longer, giving yourself room to deliver higher quality and quicker service than anticipated. It's delivering a project under budget and before schedule every time. If you say the job or task will take you five days and you can deliver it in four, you feel a greater sense of accomplishment and are viewed by the other person in a favorable light. Do this often enough and you create a personal brand that screams dependability.

Coaching Challenge

Here are some action steps you can take immediately to build your dependability muscles:

  1. Evaluate your current commitments and promises. Create a plan to complete each project and schedule the tasks on your calendar. Eliminate those commitments you are unable to keep and inform the other people involved.

  2. Start being more particular about what commitments you make. Learn to say 'no' when necessary.

  3. Promise less than you think you'll be able to deliver and give more than the person expects.

Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN is a Personal & Career Coach. Her passion is coaching clients to stop struggling and start enjoying their lives, careers and finances. What's the challenge in your life that you'd like to change? For your free 20-minute coaching consultation, visit Julie at, write to her at or call her directly at (484) 530-5024.




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