The Fortune – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: September 15, 2018

There is truth in the old adage, “the fortune is in the follow-up.”

It does not matter whether we are talking about closing a sale, delivering on a product launch, building a strong team, or strengthening an important relationship, it is in the follow-up where we find the fortune.

We have probably all had the experience of a rush of motivation and positive energy after a great initial encounter:
• A great first meeting with a potential new client
• A motivating speech at some business gathering
• A great “day one” launch for an important product

The reality is that many times when the initial motivation fades, instead of reaping a fortune in the follow-up, we weaken our influence as a leader due to lack of follow-up. If we all do an honest self-assessment across important events in our professional journey, I am sure we can find a few teachable moments where we failed to build a fortune due to lack of follow-up.

As we look to build and sustain a healthy, highly effective business, executive leaders and top talent need to maintain the discipline of ensuring effective follow-up. Leaders need to consistently reinforce execution of “next steps” after a great initial event to support the long-term health of the company.

Here are just a few thoughts to encourage executive leaders and top talent to build a fortune in the follow-up:

  1. Accept the reality that having a meaningful impact on any endeavor is contained in the follow-up, not in the start.
  2. Consistently set the example in the small, routine next steps that occur with everyday one on one interactions with team members. The daily discipline to demonstrate a respect for following up on small things will set the appropriate expectation for the really big events.
  3. Any follow-up is better than no follow-up. Taking smaller steps at a slower pace will still produce a meaningful impact and set a solid example.
  4. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and intentions, we will all still have a few experiences in the future where we will miss out on a fortune due to lack of follow-up. We should not be dismayed. We should be quick to acknowledge the shortfall directly with those we impacted and just keep climbing back into the ring to try again.
  5. Given the reality of #4 above, when those we lead once in a while fail to follow-up, we should clearly acknowledge it, but also demonstrate some understanding. We would appreciate the same treatment when we inevitably fall short sometime down the road. No one is perfect, but we should not let failing to follow-up become an acceptable habit.

Maintaining the discipline to simply make timely progress on follow-up items is one of the frequently over looked characteristics of effective executive leaders and top talent.

What if I were to ask you, “What is the most difficult leadership challenge you are facing today?” What would you say? Here are a few resources to help:

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    David Esposito