Friday, December 11, 2015

Lean Quote: Leadership is Action, Not Position

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Leadership is action, not position.— Donald H. McGannon

Actions speak louder than words! An expression where doing what you say you will do is a greater determinant of behavior and character. People can say anything, but when what they say and do are contrary, it’s easier to judge by what is done instead of by what is said.

For leaders, action is one of the most important traits they can embody.  Taking action means getting things done.  It means seizing the initiative.  It conveys momentum, and energy, and creating something new, something that didn’t exist before.  And this excites followers and others who understand that going towards something is always better than sitting around staring at the wall.

The only cure for inactivity is action. That’s why the first step in creating a successful culture of execution is creating a bias toward action. People who make things happen need to be praised and rewarded. People who don’t should be coached to change, or weeded out. Failure cannot be unduly punished. Unless people feel free to make mistakes, they will not feel free to take bold actions.

People will usually listen to what you say, but they really pay attention to what you do. You can't say one thing and do another if you want to be effective as a leader. What you say is important. However if your actions are different than your words people will assume the actions are what is true.

In the end, taking action is simple.  You do or you don’t.  The hard part comes when we introduce doubt, fear, concern about what others will say (or not say) and the outcome being failure.  If you have a great idea, why not take action?  What will happen if you fail?  You’ll learn from the failure and perhaps, have even more great ideas.  You’ll also be taking action and not just merely talking about it.

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