One of the most common reasons companies stall or plateau is a leadership team that doesn’t follow through on its commitments.
Let me be clear – everyone needs to be responsible for their actions (or inaction). So what I’m about to say isn’t to absolve individuals of their responsibility.
If you as the CEO regularly let the team, or any members of the team, get away with not getting stuff done, then you’re creating a culture where that’s acceptable.
Sure – everyone occasionally misses for some reason. Crises do happen. Fires do start and need putting out.
But if someone on your team is consistently not getting stuff done, consistently lurching from crisis to crisis, always running from one burning building to another raging fire with firehose in hand ….
… then there’s something else at play.
Their own team structure may be wrong. They may have not put the right processes in place to have control. They may not have the right people to be able to delegate to, or they may be bad delegators. Their role may be ill-defined. They could be out of their depth. Or they may simply have their own self-discipline issue.
The point is, though, there’s something going on which is bigger than the last excuse they gave you.
But here’s the nub.
If YOU, as the CEO, don’t call it out (preferably in a one to one), if YOU allow them to continue to get away with it, then the whole leadership team will decay into not getting things done.
And that would be down to you.
You’ll have created a space where it’s comfortable to miss deadlines. Miss commitments.
Those who DO get things done will resent your not dealing with those who don’t. And those who DO get things done will stop because “why get things done when not getting stuff done seems to be OK?”. Or they’ll go somewhere else.
And, sorry to be brutal here, somewhere with higher standards.
Either way, you’ll end up with a team where the norm becomes non-delivery.
I’ve seen CEOs seek a way out with the latest tool, process or book. But although the novelty may get you *some* change at the start, it will quickly yield the same results.
Or, sadder, I’ve seen whole leadership teams lose ambition. Teams don’t go anywhere because everyone, including the CEO, knows that defining anywhere to go is an exercise in futility.
You need to stop collecting mice, and face up to the elephant.
Because the issue’s not the tool. Not the process. Not the latest book.
The issue is a culture where it’s ok to commit to doing something and then not do it.
And even if YOU role model getting your commitments done (and most CEOs / MDs I know do), if your team knows it can throw an excuse at you with no real consequences, then you’ll either end up picking everything up yourself, or you’ll watch the decline.
So deal with it. Have the conversation. Humanely. Nicely. Supportively. But directly. Don’t lose your best people because you’re letting the others get away with it.
P.S. these are the kinds of very real and tough issues we talk about as in our Build on Purpose programme. It starts with a conversation at one of our workshops – for CEOs / MDs of SMEs only. Join me there.
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