For so many of us—whether CEOs for major corporations, small business owners or solo-preneurs—there’s a fundamental disconnect between knowing what to do and actually doing it.
Calling this the “knowing-doing gap,” Stanford University researchers Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton ask the question: “Why does knowledge of what needs to be done frequently fail to result in action or behavior consistent with that knowledge?”
Have you ever wondered the same thing?
Getting things done requires two critical components: energy and focus. And both are endangered species in the modern workplace.
As a leader, you must build a “bias for action” in yourself and in your organization by developing people who can consistently achieve their objectives.
How do you do this? By making an unconditional commitment to your goals and then leveraging the power of that commitment to overcome any obstacles, whether it’s your own internal doubts or the bureaucracy within your organization. And it’s helping the people on your team learn to do the same.
Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal in their book A Bias for Action identify four key steps that form the basis of successfully taking action:
#1 – Form Your Intention
To work, your goal must appeal to you emotionally and be something you can define concretely enough so you can clearly visualize its success.
#2 – Commit Unconditionally to Your Intention
This is the key step, which the authors liken to “crossing the Rubicon,” Caesar’s irreversible decision that led to his conquest of Rome.
#3 – Protect Your Intention
Once you have made your commitment, you have to protect it from forces both within yourself and your organization – things like distractions, temptations to move in a different direction, self-doubt, and negativity.
#4 – Disengage from Your Intention
Unlike Caesar, your Rubicons aren’t life-and-death affairs. You have to define your “stopping rules,” the point of success—or failure—from which you walk away and take up the next challenge.
The Bottom Line
In short, the process of getting things done in business is pretty much the same as in any other aspect of life: The only things that get done are those that you genuinely believe in, and believe will get done.
Dare the Extraordinary!