A big issue which is constantly in the minds of leaders is that there seems to be a vast amount of talk and discussion, meetings of every sort and interminable correspondences on email with everyone copied but in the end, nothing seems to have been accomplished.
All very frustrating and there needs to be a significant change in culture to make things happen.
When meetings become merely an exchange of reports on everyone’s personal position then some action needs to be taken to sort it out. The amount of wasted time and hence cost can be monitored and I would guess would shock most people.
Add to that all the other wasted effort and we can see how the concept of LEAN thinking became so popular.
Wise business sages have always advocated approaches like customer focus, stakeholder focus, people first and many other but I want to put forward a new one and that is ACTION FOCUS.
It is self evident that talking and discussing within the top team is essential but I will always remember the instruction from Jim Slater, Chairman of Slater Walker and my business hero when he insisted that the minutes of all meetings at both Board level and below must include a statement of the action required, the person responsible and the date for completion.
Woe betide anyone who was tasked with taking some action and had to report at the next meeting that it hadn’t been done. All sorts of excuses like, “I didn’t have the time”, or “If you want me to do that then something else will suffer” and so on, were heard and dismissed peremptorily.
The key is that until action is taken and visibly, then all the talking in the world won’t achieve anything. Just ask delegates to climate change conferences.
Moreover, there is a strong case for making sure that the message has got through particularly at management level and we all know that a nod from the recipient doesn’t necessarily imply agreement or even understanding.
So a good idea when saying that something needs to be done, is to demonstrate rather than just saying what is needed, and then to ensure that the task is repeatable. The military are very good at this with small arms training as an example.
Finally, don’t just make promises which will are remembered more in the failure to come up with the goods rather than successful fulfilment. It is incumbent on the leader to engender trust in the team and that can only be successfully accomplished by proving rather than mere promising. Not easy, but who ever said that the position of leader was easy?
All in all:
Don’t just talk: ACT
Don’t just say: DEMONSTRATE
Don’t just promise: PROVE
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