Taking action means doing something that will take you one step closer to meeting your organization’s objectives and goals. Taking action requires a mindset of completion – getting on with what you need to accomplish…and finishing what you start.
Leaders are all about taking action; in general, they are leaders because they have proven that they can make things happen. Leaders take action in two ways: one way is for the leader to take action himself, however, if the leader frequently chooses this approach, he is not leading at all; a second way calls for the leader to influence others to take action. To be successful at influencing others to take action the leader must set priorities, provide clear guidance, show support for action-oriented followers and inject a sense of urgency.
Leaders are purposeful in what they do, in essence, they thrive on getting things done, but more importantly they focus on getting the right things done. By setting clear priorities, leaders focus their follower’s efforts on what’s most important.
Leaders know that clarity reduces confusion and increases productivity. By issuing clear guidance and instructions, leaders ensure that followers understand exactly what needs to be accomplished in the form of a task (what) and a purpose (why). The leader should never resort to telling followers “how” to execute a given task, leaving that to the followers’ intelligence, resourcefulness, and creative ability to figure out.
In order to foster a bias for action in followers and to encourage an action-oriented environment, the leader must underwrite honest mistakes by followers who pursue positive outcomes and/or results by taking action and the leader must reward followers who adopt an action-oriented mentality.
Finally, the leader can inject a sense of urgency by adding a suspense date and time for task completion. A suspense date and time definitely reinforces the urgent nature of the task. A cautionary note – if a task is not urgent, the leader must never apply artificial or false deadlines; because, in the future, when you really need your followers to execute quickly, you will have lost credibility because of past false alarms and artificial deadlines.