As I listen to what leaders say and then watch what they actually do, I’m interested in the delta: how ambitious is what they say against the capability and commitment of their team to actually do?
Does the team understand where leaders are steering the ship or is the whole thing misaligned? How strong is the level of organisational trust to follow the course?
My clients are held to account each quarter for delivery on their highest priorities. We all acknowledge that ‘everything’ won’t get done, but we do need to be accountable for that handful of things that, as a team, we’re committed to doing. Accountability works; over the years, the average saying/doing ratio for my clients is around 75 per cent – i.e. when held accountable, 75 per cent of what they said they would do, actually gets done.
Of course, there will always be misses. Perhaps an M&A opportunity popped up and resources were re-allocated; it could be an unexpected staff illness; or, more often, a simple miscalculation of what was involved shifted the needle on a priority or two. Happily, the experience of setting goals, measures and commitments improves through iteration, and the best teams actually grow to challenge each other to deliver on their most important priorities.
The point is, if we know where we are on the roadmap, we can make sensible decisions on what to do next, mean what we say and make it happen. Those without a plan at all (and no accountability in place) will simply hop reactively from one idea to another and, before too long; business becomes all talk and no action.