The Four Agreements: Equipping Leaders for Team and Project Success

Carolyn Mozell is the founder and CEO of Leaders Who Connect and Inspire LLC and knows firsthand how transformative it can be when leaders and employees treat each other with mutual respect, kindness, and a genuine desire to see each other succeed.  Carolyn served in some of the highest levels of local government leadership for over 25 years. Rising from executive assistant to deputy chief, she also knows that leadership is a privilege. Now, Carolyn leverages her direct experience advising elected officials, cabinet level leaders and activating diverse high performing teams to help leaders in business, nonprofit organizations and government agencies do the same.

Leadership and management, though distinct, are interconnected roles. Leaders provide inspiration and establish direction, while managers focus on ensuring efficient day-to-day operations. Successful leaders commonly possess strong management skills, and effective managers can likewise demonstrate qualities of good leadership.

Recognizing and embracing this synergy lays the groundwork for a more personalized approach to leadership development and success. This approach not only enhances management skills but also nurtures a leader’s individual growth, emphasizing heightened emotional intelligence and preparing them to lead teams and projects more successfully.

The Four Agreements, originating from the wisdom of Don Miguel Ruiz, offer valuable insights for personal development that can be applied to leadership development. They are particularly beneficial for leaders seeking to cultivate a harmonious and productive work environment for successful project completion. Leaders can effortlessly incorporate these principles and emotional intelligence into their daily practices, promoting inclusivity, empathy, and operational efficiency.

In this article, we’ll explore how leaders can integrate the Four Agreements and ask questions rooted in emotional intelligence.  This approach aims to create a positive, harmonious, and productive work environment, fostering more cohesive teams and facilitating timely project completion.

Agreement #1: Be Impeccable with Your Word

This agreement underscores the importance of using words wisely, with honesty and integrity, nurturing trust and fostering clear communication.

In management, effectively communicate expectations, tasks, and feedback, fostering a culture of accountability. Questions to Ask: How can I communicate these expectations more clearly? What feedback mechanisms can I put in place? These questions empower leaders to refine their communication strategies, fostering an environment of transparency.

In leadership, build trust and transparency by consistently following through on commitments, actively listening, and encouraging open and honest communication. Questions to Ask: How can I inspire a culture of open and honest communication? How can I lead by example? These questions guide leaders towards reinforcing a foundation of trust within their teams.

Agreement #2: Don’t Take Anything Personally

This agreement encourages leaders to detach from external judgments, developing resilience in the face of criticism or praise.

In management, focus on objectives, maintain emotional resilience, and set an example of resilience in the face of challenges. Questions to Ask: How can I keep the team focused on our goals despite external pressures or conflicts? What strategies can be implemented to safeguard team morale during challenging times?

These questions prompt leaders to maintain composure in challenging situations, setting an example for their teams and ensuring a resilient and focused work environment.

In leadership, demonstrate empathy by understanding the underlying concerns of the team, actively listening, and fostering a culture of open dialogue. Questions to Ask: How can I understand my team members’ perspectives better? How can I create a space for open dialogue? These questions guide leaders in cultivating empathy within their leadership style.

This approach aims to create a positive, harmonious, and productive work environment, fostering more cohesive teams and facilitating timely project completion.


Agreement #3: Don’t Make Assumptions

This agreement emphasizes open, non-judgmental communication to reduce misunderstandings and conflicts.

In management, make data-driven decisions and avoid assumptions about team members’ abilities or needs. Questions to Ask: How can I ensure tasks are assigned based on skills and qualifications? How can I gather more information before making decisions? These questions guide leaders towards informed decision-making.

In leadership, create an inclusive and diverse environment by seeking input from all team members and avoiding the assumption that certain voices are more important than others.

Questions to Ask: How can I ensure all voices are heard, and no one is overlooked? How can I promote diversity and inclusion? These questions empower leaders to create an inclusive culture where teams feel valued, seen and heard.

Agreement #4: Always Do Your Best

This agreement motivates leaders and their teams to consistently give their best effort, ensuring excellence in their endeavors.

In management, focus on results and efficient resource allocation, setting a standard for performance excellence. Questions to Ask: How can I optimize resources for better results? How can I set clear performance standards? These questions act as strategic guides, prompting leaders to refine their approach and elevate the overall performance of their teams.

In leadership, inspire and support your team’s growth and development, fostering motivation and high performance. Questions to Ask: How can I help my team reach their fullest potential? How can I encourage personal and professional growth? These questions guide leaders towards becoming catalysts for their team’s success.

By integrating emotional intelligence and the Four Agreements into their leadership and management approaches, leaders in government, nonprofits, and organizations can foster a workplace defined by trust, open communication, and a shared sense of purpose. These guiding principles pave the way for leaders to demonstrate empathetic and effective leadership, ultimately benefiting not only the leaders themselves and their teams but also the key projects and initiatives entrusted to their care.

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