Every one of us has role models in life; icons whose leadership we ardently admire. These role models hail from different backgrounds no less. They could be politicians, athletes, celebrities, distinguished professionals and so on. Regardless of who they are, chances are we look up to them for one fundamental reason, they get things done. They exemplify success. They show us what it looks like when someone actually sets their mind to accomplish something ambitious, and actually realizes their goals to completion.
There’s a simple expression for this quality in a leader. It’s called follow-through. Leadership devoid of follow-through is nothing but an exercise in wishful thinking. Any person who aspires to become an effective leader must possess the basic initiative to tangibly execute their plans for success. This may sound easy enough, but the sad truth is that not everyone practices meaningful follow-through in their approach to life. In fact, arguably every last person knows what it feels like to grapple with the problems of procrastination, hesitation, and second-guess after second-guess. If you are looking for ways to strengthen your resolve and become the type of leader who finishes what they start, here are six foolproof strategies to inform your thought-process.
- Accept Uncertainty as a Part of Life:
Fear of the unknown is one of the most paralyzing emotions in existence. If this fear doesn’t discourage people to the point of inaction, it intimidates them into over-thinking in the name of preparing for the worst. It is an absolute fact, especially when it comes to business, that it’s impossible to make a rewarding decision without assuming some risk. Living to avoid uncertainty only intensifies ambivalence. Learning to accept and adapt to it as a part of life on the other hand, emotionally immunizes oneself against fear of the unknown.
- Give yourself a Deadline:
When used reasonably, deadlines are actually profound behavioral motivators. Consider filing taxes for example. Every year, the IRS sets a strict deadline for the public to file returns. Even though they may procrastinate, the majority of people scramble to meet this target within time, so much so that accounting professionals count on tax season as a guaranteed period of income. Even if it’s an unofficial one, setting a deadline for desired tasks provokes initiative and commitment. It reminds leaders not only to make the most of their time, but also to be accountable for how they use it.
Making plans is easy. Sometimes it’s even fun to brainstorm and come up with idea after idea on how to solve a given problem. However, all the elaborate plans in the world can never accomplish anything without the conclusive will to act on them. Strong leaders recognize that there is a time to plan, and there is a time to act. When the time to act arrives, reluctance and indecision frustrate progress instead of enabling it. The best way to actually gain anything from a decision is to intentionally go through with it in the first place.
There’s nothing wrong with thinking big. After all big dreams can eventually translate into big success. However, understanding what limitations are insurmountable is in imperative component of level-headed leadership. Strong leaders know how to draw the line between pushing the limits of their potential and biting off more than they can chew. Setting realistic targets is important because it creates the opportunity to accomplish small victories that inspire exponential achievement.
- Take Things One Step at a Time:
There is an ancient Chinese proverb that offers indispensable advice when it comes to leadership, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” When it comes to completing elaborate tasks, thinking about things in the big picture tends to overwhelm – especially when the stakes are high. It’s good to understand the requirements for success but rather than being the type of leader who tries to get everything done all at once, focus on one task at a time, one day at time. Being moderate is the key to consistency and endurance.
Regardless of how well or how poorly a project evolves, always remember that it’s not over until it’s over. Don’t quit until the job is done, and don’t celebrate until the job is done either. Completion is the single most inherent ingredient of follow-through. A strong leader should always exercise the discipline necessary to disregard all distractions and pursue their plans to a logical conclusion. Interrupting progress without just cause creates a window for doubt or hubris to disrupt any hard work that has already transpired.
Follow-through is all about balance. It’s about figuring out exactly how much to plan, and exactly when to take bold action. It’s about being able to push limits or expectations without settling for less or selling oneself short. Most importantly, it’s about having the commitment and discipline necessary to facilitate closure. Check out more of RISE Programs’ Blogs for helpful advice on leadership, and remember to spread the word by sharing this post.