Many otherwise articulate people seem to have great difficulty in spitting these words out. They hem and haw. They stutter. They may get something close out, but they have a hard time slowly and deliberately saying these ten simple words.
I have always believed that you are more likely to accomplish big goals if you declare them publicly. My rationale has been that this creates the accountability you need to follow-through. But now I am not so sure.
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Derek Sivers makes a compelling case against going public with your goals in his short talk at the 2010 Ted Conference. (The talk is only a little over three minutes long.) His basic premise is this: telling someone your goals makes them less likely to happen.
What goes wrong? In surveys and focus groups with thousands of executives, researchers at Indiana University’s Kelly School of Business identified some common reasons why new leaders can run off the rails. Some of the top derailers are:
It has been helpful to identify the components of this cycle, so I am not so surprised when they occur. So far, I have identified ten stages I go through in preparing to speak. (This assumes that I have never delivered this exact speech before.)
Recently, one of my mentees was planning a special event. Last week, he was surprised to discover that someone on his planning team had completed a project that he didn’t really authorize. He was clearly frustrated, because he felt the other person had taken more initiative that he was given.
After listening to him describe the situation, I finally said, “The fault is not with your team member’s action. The problem is that you didn’t make your expectations clear when you delegated this task.” I then asked him if he had ever heard of the five levels of delegation. He said, “no,” and then I shared them with him.
I’m a husband to one woman, father of five more, and grandfather to three more (little) women. We also have a number of women in strategic positions at Thomas Nelson, with whom I work on a regular basis. Suffice it to say, I spend a lot of time in the company of women.
Here’s something I’ve learned from all that experience: women are different. Earth-shattering, I know. But when it comes to motivating the women in your organization, it’s important to be mindful of that difference. What works for a man doesn’t always work for a woman.
Richard L. Daft is a professor at the Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University, where he specializes in the study and teaching of leadership. I had the privilege of meeting Dick several years ago, when he invited me to speak to one of his classes on “Culture as a Leadership Tool.”
I’ve never been to the Orange Conference, but I am excited to go this coming spring. I heard Reggie Joiner speak at the Catalyst Conference last year, and, frankly, that was enough. (He was awesome!) It is scheduled for April 27–29, 2011. Registration opens on October 5th.