Overcoming the 6 Mistakes of Inaction
Smart mistakes happen when you take action, fail, learn, and adapt. Dumb mistakes happen when you don’t try at all.
Weak leaders over-prepare and under-execute.
6 Mistakes of inaction:
- Not declaring what you want in simple, observable behaviors with tangible results.
- Withholding feedback.
- Neglecting the emotional state of the team.
- Ignoring the passions of talented team members.
- Overlooking self-development.
Overcoming dumb mistakes:
The cure for dumb mistakes is
demanding results from yourself and others.
- Define and declare expectations. If it can’t be seen it’s not a result. Say what you want!
- Evaluate progress frequently and brutally. Mediocrity and apathy prevail until someone courageously calls it out.
- Recalibrate and begin again. The path to success begins with beginning again.
15 questions that overcome dumb mistakes:
- What observable results are we shooting to achieve? Define results with others, not in isolation.
- Who can best deliver the results we want?
- What strategies and methods best deliver results?
- What does accountability look like? Real accountability is voluntary, never coerced.
- What will be different when we achieve the results we want?
- How will results be measured?
- When should results be observed?
- How far have we come?
- How far do we need to go this week, month, or quarter?
- Who should we honor, praise, or reward?
- How can the performance of top performers be improved?
- Where can under-performers be developed or reassigned?
- What role does leadership play in delivering results?
- What skills and behaviors best take us where we want to go?
- What’s important now?
Wisdom is the result of taking action, learning, and adapting. But, words without action make you dumb. Pull the trigger more. 70% to 80% ready is ready enough.
Warning: High profile initiatives require greater preparation and certainty.
Facebook fans fill in: “The biggest mistakes leaders make include _____.”
What are the mistakes of neglect and inaction?
How can leaders overcome the problem of “dumb” mistakes?
Powerful questions. I find inaction often comes from fear. The team has great ideas they talk themselves out of because they’re too edgy. They wait for the boss to tell them what to do instead. Poor choice all around.
Thanks Karin. I’m afraid you are right. Leadership takes courage. I’ll add, that the way we respond to failure is an important aspect of instilling courage into others.
Agree Karin. Steve Jobs talked one about how we often never see those amazing concept cars come to fruition b/c the leadership hears so many excuses from PM, or Engineering, or QA as to why it won’t be successful or can’t be done. Jobs refused to take no for an answer when an Engineer at Apple pitched the idea of a touch wheel for the iPod and almost everyone else said it would be too expensive or could not be done. He made them believe they had the talent and ability to get it done and then he gave them the backing to see it through with enough time, money, and attention to quality. Many talked about how he had a ‘reality distortion field’ such that while he was in the room with you, you really believed it could be done.
I think inaction is also not making decision. And when people do not make decision when situations demand it, then it is the mistake and it inaction. Many times we procrastinate in making decision thinking that it will be over, or it may not affect, but those who sense the gravity of situation either make or not make decision. Those making decision learn but those not making decision suffer. Unfortunately, second category of people blame others for their failures and suffering. First category of people, even if they fail, do not blame anyone. In fact they learn not to make mistake again and develop confidence.
One of the reason why we neglect is our overestimation of our thinking and underestimating of external factors. Wise people never underestimate the power of external forces. They in fact analyze it wisely and then take action. Whereas those who either in-act or make decision in haste, land into problems.
So, leaders can overcome mistakes of inaction by analysis of external and internal factor influencing decision making and then should act.
Thanks Ajay. YOu added an important mistake of inaction, not deciding. We could go so far as to say that a poor decision that can be adjusted is better than no decision.
Great post today Dan.
For me the greatest problem of inaction is contempt prior to investigation. If my mind is not open nothing else matters.
A while back I shared 70% of employees felt no one at work cared about them….Gallup
Now Harris says it is now 74%. Their poll even goes so far to say 25% hate their jobs.
So my question is as Leaders what is it costing us not taking any action to understand this and do something about it?
If Tom Brady completed 26% of his passes what would Coach Hoodie do? If he did nothing what would the owner Kraft do?
Why does it seem Leaders with a 26% success rate have no interest in owning their results and doing something about it?
For me this seems to be a mistake of inaction.
SP back to now
Thanks Scott. An open mind is unusual for sure.
One of the places an open mind is most important is after you think you’ve found a solution. Too often our minds close because we think we have it figured out.
“Mediocrity and apathy prevail until someone courageously calls it out.” So true!
As a university student back in the 80’s, I was aghast on how many your people were comfortable with “going with the flow” … just doing the minimum effort to get them through and being satisfied with mediocrity. Just think of it, if EVERYBODY was comfortable with mediocre society and innovation would stagnate. People play it safe to protect themselves and their interests. But if you do not push the envelope and challenge yourself and the accepted “norms” of society then that society is doomed to stagnation and myopic thinking.
Whenever, I find myself falling into mediocrity, I set new goals and re-asses my path in private and career life. Often I will take the rockier path if I know the reward will be better at the end versus the smoother path. Long term thinking is very valuable and a skill that is often thrown away to people who embrace mediocrity and apathy.
Michael I find for me it is all about the story I am telling myself.
I believe we all communicate with ourselves best and mostly through stories.
Not just me saying it, google learning through storytelling.
So what is the story I tell myself not to act? To settle, to stick my head in the sand and do nothing or repeat what continues the same crummy results? Why, cause it is comfortable, familiar? Straight up denial? What?
I am courageously saying 26% is WAY below mediocrity. What am I going to do about it NOW? I won’t ask you what you are going to do about it, that is for you to decide to ask yourself or not.
I would dearly love to hear from others who consider themselves Leaders the story they tell themselves 26% is just grand. Just curious.
What exactly does that story sound like?
Take care, never settle, better is available, ONE example maybe you have one or even a better one, ONE Example, Truly Human Leadership……Barry Wehmiller ……20 million to 1.5 Billion a year……72% EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION…..15% annual dividend to stockholders. If you have a better example of a Leadership model with similar or better results………..share away. Lets just do something besides shouting out strategies that give us a 26% rate of success.
If I was a Doctor and I killed 74% of the patients who came to see me would you book an appointment to let me treat you?
Thanks Michael. Your idea of challenging mediocrity by establishing new goals is elegant. 🙂
Your posts for the past two days have been perfectly timed as we wind down activities and gear up for 2014. Thank you!
Wow. Point 4 is gold. “What does accountability look like? Real accountability is voluntary, never coerced.” I may have to perform a viewpoint reset on this, but I think you are right. Thanks, Dan.
Thank you. I have been meditating down this lines and this really helped clarify some thoughts for me.
It is such a shame to waste the talent of gifted people in this way!
Thanks Dan, great list! I really like the statement “Pull the trigger more. 70% to 80% ready is ready enough.” – with of course the caution appended 🙂 – As a perfectionist, I have to remind myself constantly that it’s not about perfection, it’s about success!
dumb mistakes happen when a plan is made that is not flexible enough to weaather the winds of change
Wonderful! A wise man once told me, “Action creates action.” And I believe the sum of inaction is 0. Sometimes the best way to learn is to just go for it. Be brave, Be BOLD!