How to Bridge the Gap Between Talk and Action
Lousy teams drain energy, creativity, and resolve.
Mediocre teams kill things slowly. Better to work alone than die a lingering death on a gasping team.
Successful leaders move through talk to action.
Few groups are more pathetic than disconnected teams who over-see and under-do.
- Work behind closed doors, sitting at big tables.
- Talk themselves out of taking action.
- Drum up imagined problems.
- Create confusing processes.
- Deliver fantasy results that hinder real progress.
Bonus: Don’t trust each other and aren’t trusted by others.
Lousy teams double the time and triple the effort of getting things done.
Ask your team, “What are we doing?” When their response is, “Talking about xyz,”, you’re dying.
Successful leaders move teams through the illusion that talking is doing.
Successful teams make decisions that impact behaviors and produce visible results.
Real work begins when meetings end.
Successful teams produce tangible results that express organizational mission.
- Have clear goals.
- Make choices that impact behaviors and deliver visible results. “What are we doing,” connects to doing – not just talking – on successful teams.
- End ineffective behaviors.
- Evaluate progress and set new milestones.
- Honor and leverage each other’s strengths.
- Hold each other accountable.
- Deal with problems with candor, transparency, and kindness.
Bonus: Successful teams work on the way they work together.
Your team needs life support if the only time you talk about your work is in team meetings.
Teams that actually do things communicate regularly about their projects outside team meetings.
Don’t tell me what you’re talking about or hoping to do in the future. Tell me what you’re doing now.
What are the keys to bridging the gap between talking and doing?
Read suggestions on developing high performance teams from Facebook fans. Add your insights there as well.
My favorite line today? “Real work begins when meetings end.” Yes! Spare me the endless meetings with redundant rhetoric. Let’s get busy and communicate and adjust as we act.
Thanks Dauna. Yes! Most meetings could be much shorter. It seems like long meetings are more likely to prevent action than short.
Meetings are only what we make them! They can serve a purpose, short and to the point is nice, does not happen often enough! I’m with Dauna on this one as well.
Thanks Tim. I think we need more training on running great meetings. Even the idea that we are moving THROUGH talk to action feels a little revolutionary when I think back on meetings I’ve attended in the past.
The old Elvis song lyric “A lot of less talk and a little more action” comes to mind. 🙂
Problems start with the gap. When leaders do not meet what they promise, it creates gap. When they do not follow what is expected. This gap is the sign of ineffective leadership. Manipulators create gap deliberately to satisfy their objectives. They do not make effort to bridge the gap. Leaders believe in bridging the gap. When they minimize the gap, they show their effectiveness. This is the case of integrity.
Leaders with integrity bridge the gap.
Ineffective behavior is the product of gap. When manipulator intend to fulfill their goal, they also create followers. They also follow the same ideology. Since intention is bad, behavior has to be ineffective. Holding people accountable is good idea. When you make people accountable, it creates fear among them. They become uncomfortable. They start analyzing their actions and behavior against expected outcomes.
The key to bridge gap between talking and doing is evidence.When people talk much, it is better to ask evidence about their work. Leaders should create habit of showing evidences before talking. This can be helpful to discourage blabbermouth and to encourage integrity.
Thanks Ajay. “EVIDENCE” nailed it. I’ve seen people blab on and on but really it’s just hot air.
Defining what evidence looks like before taking action is one powerful way to move through talk to action.
Great topic Dan!
I can’t really speak for an entire team at the moment, however, I can contribute on an individual level.
Last month I took what was called a 30 day PUSH challenge (it was also free). It was all about setting real goals and then a systematic way of selecting the TOP goals that are called your PUSH goals that would actually made all of the other goals on your list possible! Once those push goals are identified, when you start making your to-do lists each day, at least 2 or 3 of your daily tasks MUST be in alignment with your Push goals. Then once a week, WITHOUT looking back at your previous weeks list of goals, you IMAGINE your top 10 ultimate goals….AGAIN.
What this does is basically ensures your BIG goals are REALLY the most important and the one’s that aren’t as important as you thought, will eventually drop off your list.
Of course, I’m leaving a lot of details out yet what this did for me was moved me from intangible dreams and visions to ACTION. I committed to this every day for 30 days and accomplished MORE then I have in many ways all year so far! I even painted several walls in my place, totally reorganized, etc! Not so much on my blog or other ‘dreams’ yet because they weren’t urgently at the top of my list…yet! But I can tell you this, I was in ACTION mode for that entire time and it felt GOOD making a dent in those areas….
Unless we make a conscious effort to identify and plan to tackle those tasks that are aligned to our goals each and every day…it won’t happen.
This may be about an individual, but this could be applied to teams as well.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Samantha. Thanks for sharing your journey. What I take from it is focus on what’s important. I must say that trivialities dominate until we make concerted efforts to do what matters. It seems odd, but what matters less often comes before what matters more.
Exactly! Focus on what’s important. Although I have to say some days it can seem like there are so MANY things that are important that I have been overwhelmed in deciding which is most important at times!
Also, once upon a time I used to live by to-do lists to the point where it felt like I was enslaved to it. Meaning, I didn’t really feel like I was able to ‘walk in the spirit’ when those divine appts arose in life if it interfered with MY ever so mighty and important ‘to do’ list. So in a fit of ‘rebellion’, I stopped doing it.
Well, all’s I managed to do with that was throw the baby out with the bath water! In refusing to keep ANY to do list, too many things competed for my time and then I don’t get ANY of the most important stuff done on a regular basis until they reach HAVE TO RIGHT NOW priority! haha
So it’s a constant learning curve for me in learning to juggle seasons, vacillating between being anally ‘organized’ and spontaneous so I can breathe, and seasons where I’ve just needed to ‘recover’ from too much stuff hitting all at once in life.
For myself, I find I need SOME structure (to-do lists)…just enough to keep me moving FORWARD…yet with enough breathing room for real life and spontaneity and those ‘divine appts’ that it’s impossible to plan for. i.e. a person in legitimate need etc.
We’re never done learning Dan! : )
Thanks Samantha. I think a big part of the processes is the courage to say NO to good things.
From a leadership point of view, choosing one or two top priorities is really tough when there are so many things to do.
We hate to miss out on anything. 🙂
“..if we don’t execute, we’ll be executed..”
a saying a boss of mine and I used to share 🙂
Thanks Ken. Scary! 🙂
I think in our next church board meeting, I’m going to title the committee reports section, “What are we DOING?” As always – a great post!
Thanks Vicki. Good call! Watch out for the folks who love to talk about what they hope to do. 😉
“Tell me what you’re doing now.” good question from a leader.
Thanks Seeker. I think that question could take most leaders and organizations to new levels if taken seriously.
If.. that will be a new post for you.
Better to work alone than die a lingering death on a gasping team. I hear you on this one Dan!
Thanks Diana. It looks like we share a disdain for wasting time on teams that spin their wheels. It’s amazing how much time I’ve wasted. Sadly, when I think back, I realize I was leading many of those teams. If mistakes make us wise, I’m a genius. 😉
haha it’s good to have a sense of humour Dan!
Thanks for the post…Execution, that is, delivering results can be so difficult to achieve. I found The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Covey, McChesney and Huling an excellent and practical guide to getting things done. Does anyone have any other book or blog recommendations?
Thanks John. I have the book you mention. Looks like I better read it. Cheers.
action is good, but planned action is even better
Thanks Bill. Makes sense to me.
Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, (Bruce Tuckman’s 1965 team-development model) it takes time and effort to get the team to gel, if ever it does.