The opposite of a covenant is compliance.

Posted on July 3, 2013


When you lead people, through positional or moral authority, it is easy to equate people’s level of compliance with your level of effectiveness. Compliance, however, is not about how inspired people are, or how engaged they happen to be. Compliance illustrates how obedient people are to rules, how fearful they are of consequences, and/or how mindless they are of the system.

Leadership is not about garnering compliance, but growing a relationship, a covenant, an agreement between people that is solidified through values, passion, mission, purpose, and meaning.

In a covenant, rules are not the restrictions on permissions, but the boundaries of play. In a covenant consequences are not imposed from an authority and applied to an individual, but concomitant to the community. In a covenant systems are not rote patterns of guided behavior but rather subjugated to change according to the moral and ethical standards of the group.

Thus, we must think of people who are passionately engaged in their work and the community not in terms of compliance, but rather of covenant.

Forge a covenant. Don’t force compliance.

Posted in: leadership