Knowing versus Doing - Execution In The Workplace

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Have you ever worked with someone who always seemed to have the answers; who always seemed to know what should be done; who could always quote the experts view on a certain situation, but for some reason, just couldn't perform as expected?

Working with a client last month I was struck by the fact that my client was already very knowledgeable about the issue that we were discussing. As we talked through the situation it was clear to me that my client was well read on this subject. He also recounted for me several situations where his peers had similar issues and exactly how they were handled.

While many of my clients are either new in management, or have recently been promoted to a new, more challenging position, that was not the case with this individual. This was a seasoned leader; an experienced executive who had been in his current role for several years.

He knew what to do.

He knew why he had to do it.

He knew what would happen if he did not act.

Yet here we were discussing a fairly routine issue that he should have handled without a second thought. He was not struggling with what he needed to do. Rather he was struggling with actually doing it.

He had a fear of the results of his actions.

He had a fear of confrontation.

He had a fear of action and struggled to do what he knew he needed to do.

Even more surprising was that he did not immediately recognize the struggle.

During our first discussion of this issue, we talked about what the situation was and how it should best be handled. We agreed on the action steps and the timeframes for action. Several weeks later the same topic came up again and I was surprised to find that he had not taken the actions agreed upon. In fact, he was very interested in discussing the theories around what should be done and the expected results. You could see and hear that the discussion energized him and that he was proud of his knowledge and his ability to understand and articulate the concepts.

But he could not, or would not act.

A leader who does not take action is like a guard dog that growls but won't bite. The growl may fool the burglar for a while, but eventually he will just ignore the dog.

It should come as no surprise that there is a big difference between understanding what to do and actually doing it. Whether it be in life, sports, or business we often know the right thing to do and how it must be done. But actually doing it can be a different thing altogether.

Especially when what has to be done is unpleasant.

Good managers and leaders know that doing unpleasant things, and making unpopular decisions are a part of their responsibility. The difference between successful and unsuccessful leaders lies not in knowing what to do, but in doing the right thing at the right time.

If you find that you know what needs to be done, but struggle with actually doing it, then it may be time for a good hard look in the mirror. It's not enough to know what must be done if you don't take action.

Knowledge without action is empty leadership. You may be able to fool yourself, but you won't be able to fool the people who are looking to you for hope and direction.

Dave Meyer (Coach Dave) is a Business and Leadership Coach who believes that "Great Teams Are Built On The Foundation Of Great Leadership. And Great Leadership Is Built On the Foundation of Great Trust."

With over 25 years of successful leadership experience, Coach Dave provides his clients with practical, time tested advice on how to build aand lead a team that produces consisnte, outstanding results.

Certified by the Coach Training Alliance, and the Institute For Motivational Living, Coach Dave is an expert in providing leaders with tools they need to succeed in life and in business.

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