Some years ago when I started my career in medical sales, my mother gave me the most helpful piece of advice. She was one of the pioneer women who blazed the trail for women like me when she left nursing to sell surgical supplies. When I started my career, I was calling on many of her prior customers. She was incredibly successful, and her customers liked her very much. During my growing up years, she had also shared stories about me with those customers. They then had a preconceived idea of who I was and how I might show up in this profession. Thanks, Mom!
The advice my mother gave me seemed elementary. As I quickly learned, few of my competitors either knew this secret to success or were weak in its implementation. What was this golden nugget? She taught me that no matter what, always follow-through. If I did nothing else, follow-through was paramount. It would define my credibility and success with my customers and in life.
What are you teaching people about how they can count on you?
We have all met plenty of people who seem to commit to things with no intention of ever following through. If you were taught to take people at their word, then this experience can create a lot of disappointment. How does that type of experience influence how you view people? What are you teaching people about how they can count on you?
The practice of committing to do something then not following through has an enormous impact on your credibility and relationships. It may not happen initially, but with repeated failures of not following through people begin to doubt you, your sincerity, your trustworthiness, and most importantly your reliability. Those of you who play sports know the importance of this skill. If you are a leader or aspire to be a leader, failing in this area will undermine your success. People rarely engage those who are not reliable in leadership opportunities. It also negatively impacts your relationships both professionally and personally.
How do you avoid this pitfall?
Start to observe how often you commit to doing something without even thinking about it. Do you make commitments because you think that it is expected of you? Because you are trying to make yourself look good? Or is it just a habit because it sounds good at the time? You may be surprised to learn how often you tell someone you are going to do something.
Next, assess how well you are doing at following through. Are tasks such as sending follow-up emails, making a phone call, or completing a task on a project that you are working on with others who are depending on you getting ignored? You cannot change something that you do not acknowledge is an issue for you.
Finally, make notes of what you commit to doing and set aside time to complete those commitments. There are any number of apps and calendar reminders you can use to keep yourself on task and not let those commitments fall through the cracks.
You will strengthen your credibility and your relationships if you master the simple skill of following through.
If you are not meeting the mark in this area, do not beat yourself up. Stop making excuses, accept responsibility and start doing better. We are all human, and things happen. If you drop the ball hold yourself accountable, make the necessary amends in a genuine way and follow-through. Do not get lost in self-flagellation. That means nothing if you do not start to show improvement. People are more likely to give you a second chance if they see you trying to get better and you demonstrate that with some consistency. You will be much more successful as a leader and in your relationships if you master the simple skill of following through. Here’s to your success! Contact us if you want to improve in this area.
Sue Kenfield specializes in transforming complex human dynamics within organizations, communities and with individuals. We empower people and organizations to maximize their success by improving leadership, communication, and emotional/behavioral intelligence skills. We elevate performance, minimize turnover and improve the bottom line through our behavioral intelligence consulting, leadership and team development, conflict management, and executive coaching programs. Sue Kenfield is also available as a speaker on the topics listed above. Contact us to learn more.