People spend most of their time thinking about their own initiatives. Therefore, the biggest mistake we can make is to assume that one meeting, email, or discussion, has them thinking about how to help us with ours. It does not work that way – Lack of follow-up kills the majority of good plans.
Recently, a sales person called on me and was finally able to get through. We had a good discussion and I believed their offering had potential. Of course I did not make any decisions during this initial call, so I am sure that my file was notated as needing a follow-up. As a buyer, my thoughts are that if I never hear from this person again, I win. It confirms any doubts I had about them or their offering, and it is one less thing for me to deal with. Sounds negative right? Sadly its true. Now, if the sales person is a good sales person and continues to follow-up until they get to the next step, I begin thinking more and more about them and their offering. Their follow-up validates them, and without it, I surely am not thinking of them or their initiatives.
This concept has an even stronger application within Leadership. Every so often we draft new budgets, goals, and many other plans, and notate many to-dos related to each. We also have discussions with our team throughout the drafting process, and at the time of launching the new period when these should go into effect. However, execution needs to happen swiftly, and it likely has not even started if we have done a poor job following-up. Our follow-up confirms that change is needed and that we are serious.
To not follow-up, creates the expectation that there is no need to pay attention to new initiatives. To briskly and consistently follow-up creates the expectation that goals and plans are not put forward without the expectation of execution. We all want the latter, and so do those we lead. The other benefits of good follow-up:
- It sharpens the listening skills of our audience – people pay attention when they know there will be questions to follow
- With consistency, the need and frequency of the follow-up is less – when people expect others to act, they become more proactive themselves
- We spend more of our time ensuring progress is made, rather that coming up with additional plans that end up just sitting on the shelf
- We become predictable in a good way
Take time to look at the new goals and initiatives of your organization. Has the right amount of follow-up occurred to really kick off the required changes?
Eloise is now 10 months old and every day she is doing something new and awesome. Of course like any caring parents, her mother and I think she is beautiful and are very thankful for her health. She recently started showing more emotion and has even developed an expression that screams “give me that back” and/or “you better pay attention to me or else”. Based on the first 10 months, I never thought I would see anything but a smile…..
It would be hard to count how many times people have said “She is going to have you wrapped around her little finger”. This is always meant to be a compliment because they see us together and either they have been in the same position, and/or they just look at her smiling and think….. man, he does not know what is coming. I am never offended by the comment because it is meant to be a genuine compliment. However, after hearing it enough, and picking it apart, I have come to the conclusion that it is exactly what I don’t want to happen.
So where is the thread about Leadership in this message?……..The analogy is that if/when people let others have too much control over them, it usually ends bad for both sides, and never proves to be a long-term winning strategy. Leadership is about influence, and the ability to motivate others to want to do something, rather than feeling that they have to. In situations where a person constantly feels dominated, it usually ends in complete failure. This can go both ways, and usually both parties are at fault, but in some cases the blame can only rest with the person that has seniority or that is in the leadership role, because they should not let it happen. When we let someone in business have us “wrapped around their finger”, it usually ends in a break up because the relationship is too one-sided and has reached the point of being irreversible. The same applies when the leverage of roles is reversed. When people or businesses take extreme advantage of one another, it usually ends bad for both parties.
I don’t want this to happen in my parenting. I don’t want to give her more than what she needs; I don’t want to allow her to do things she should not be allowed to do; and most of all, I don’t want to take away her independence by spoiling her. I know the work will be cut out for me, because I am already getting the smiles and she is starting to bat her eyes. What she will have wrapped around her finger is my love – this part is true.
Now……I am sure many of you are sending me direct emails/text messages to bet against me/my ignorance, and I agree that the odds are in your favor. There is no hiding the fact that I remain an amateur in regards to parenting. However, I am going to fight a good fight because I believe I owe it to her. I owe her everything I can do to make sure she is prepared to take care of herself and be a productive member of society.
The jury will be out for quite a while on her having me wrapped around her finger:)
When we are approached for our opinion about an issue, whether consciously or not, the person is usually asking for vindication. This is a fair assumption for leaders to make, and the advice we provide has a big impact on them, the situation, and us.
The best thing we can do as leaders is affirm what is the right thing to do, rather than vindicating them from what they already know is right. It is easy to feel like we should please them by giving the “ok” on what they would “like to do”, but that is not our job as leaders. If we take that direction, the issue will become perpetually worse, and we are stunting the growth of everyone around us – not to mention causing many other internal issues by not doing what everyone knows is the right thing to do.
Next time someone asks what you think they should do, start off by asking them what they think the right thing to do is. The majority of time they already have it pegged, and the right thing for us to do is to help them by confirming their own judgement.