A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Impeccable Agreements at Work
Written by Stephanie Blackburn Freeth, CEO & Founder of Adaptive Alternatives LLC.
One of the primary sources of toxic gossip and drama in the workplace is broken agreements. There are huge, often unacknowledged, costs that show up in companies when teams don’t live by a set of clear guidelines. When I work with leaders and teams on organizational strategy and leadership development, I love to introduce the practice of creating impeccable agreements. AKA, defining who will do what by when.
This model of practicing impeccable agreements was created by the Conscious Leadership Group (CLG). I highly recommend reading their book, “The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership” by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Warner Klemp. In this blog, we’ll cover commitment six of the fifteen – creating agreements. It may sound simple, yet I’ve witnessed a host of barriers that leaders and teams face when creating and executing clear agreements.
The Conscious Leadership Group (CLG) defines commitment by its Latin origin, committere, which means to gather one’s energy and move it in a chosen direction. In this context, commitments are about an energetic experience rather than a moral issue. All broken agreements break the flow of energy, including breaking an agreement with yourself.
Impeccable agreements look like this: People showing up and taking full responsibility for their actions and feelings. As well as committing to gathering their energy and moving it in this direction:
“I commit to the masterful practice of integrity, including acknowledging all authentic feelings, expressing the unarguable truth and keeping my agreements.”
By contrast, when people are living from victim consciousness, what CLG calls “by me” consciousness, the commitment looks like:
“I commit to living in incompletion by withholding my truth, denying my feelings, not keeping my agreements, and not taking 100% responsibility.”
These two distinct choices represent commitments from what Conscious Leadership Group calls “Above the Line” in the first example, and “Below the Line” in the second example. When in a state of trust and presence we are operating from “Above the Line.” When in a state of threat, we are operating from “Below the Line.” As humans, we are hard-wired to go “Below the Line.” For a great illustration of this concept, see this CLG video: Locating Yourself: A Key to Conscious Leadership.
In order to create and uphold impeccable agreements from “Above the Line,” it helps to understand each of the phrases that commitment number six is referencing. Here are some examples:
1. What does integrity mean in commitment number six?
The way that the Conscious Leadership Group uses the word integrity means wholeness. In energetic terms, anything that is an integrity breach breaks our flow of energy. When energy breaches happen in companies, employee engagement often drops. And integrity breaches that happen within individual leaders and team members have ripple effects throughout a culture.
2. What do feelings have to do with agreements?
Many workplace cultures want nothing to do with emotions. Emotions at work usually get ignored, repressed, denied, or can sometimes explode under pressure. The Conscious Leadership Group teaches leaders and teams to locate, name, and release feelings in ways that are ultimately crucial for keeping agreements. They define emotion as “energy in motion”, and teach that feelings are simply physical sensations. Allowing others to feel and express their feelings when creating an agreement and when cleaning up a broken agreement is crucial.
3. What is an unarguable truth?
Speaking an unarguable truth means stating thoughts without being attached to whether the thought is right or not. Speaking unarguably also includes labeling feelings and body sensations in the moment. While this can sound odd at first, learning to speak unarguably can end drama immediately, and is an important element in creating impeccable agreements.
4. What is radical or 100% responsibility?
In order to take 100% responsibility, we have to let go of blame and judgment – a tall order for humans whose minds are wired to keep us safe and keep our egos intact. Focusing on blame and judgment externally places control outside of ourselves. One hundred percent responsibility is a magic number… If we take less than 100% responsibility, the locus of control is still outside ourselves.
5. What is a whole-body yes?
A whole-body yes happens when your head, heart, and gut centers are fully aligned. The greatest chance you have of being in integrity with your agreements is to only agree to things you have a whole body yes to. For many people, this is a radical concept, but for conscious leaders only committing to things that they have a whole body yes to is a game-changer.
6. What are the parts of an agreement?
An agreement consists of defining who will do what by when. I won’t go into more detail here, but I invite you to sign up for my course to learn the step-by-step processes for how to make an agreement, how to renegotiate an agreement, and how to clean up broken agreements.
Creating, upholding, renegotiating, and cleaning up broken agreements is not something that we do just once. It’s something that we do over and over. Given how many agreements we have with people in our personal and professional lives, it’s worth becoming aware of how to create and uphold agreements in a way that minimizes integrity breaches and energy loss.
Want to dive deeper into this topic with me? Sign up for my upcoming course, “How to Create Impeccable Agreements at Work” where we’ll review and practice a step-by-step process that is both practical and portable. All active course participants will also receive a 2-page handout to use on their own and within their teams.