Leadership Is A Contact Sport step 8 of 8: Follow Up!
By Marshall Goldsmith
What is the most important thing you can do if you really want to change? It’s follow-up. Follow-up is the #1 difference maker in the whole change process. Here’s why.
- Follow-up is how you measure your progress.
- Follow-up is how you remind people that you’re making an effort to change, and that they are helping you.
- Follow-up is how your efforts eventually get imprinted on your colleagues’ minds.
- Follow-up is how you erase your coworkers’ skepticism that you can change.
- Follow-up is how you acknowledge to yourself and to others that getting better is an ongoing process, not a temporary religious conversion.
And, more than anything else, follow-up makes you change. It gives you the momentum, even the courage, to go beyond understanding what you need to do to change and actually do it, because in engaging in the follow-up process, we are changing. That’s all great you say, but why does follow-up work? First a confession: I didn’t start out knowing the importance of follow-up. Many years ago, a VP participant of a training session I facilitated asked me the perfectly reasonable question, “Does anyone who goes to one of these leadership development programs ever really change?” I thought about it. Then answered sheepishly, “I don’t know.” I had worked with some of the best companies in the world and no one had ever asked me this question. Worse still, until that moment, this question had never crossed my mind!From that moment, I set out to discover the answer to the question: “Does anyone ever really change?” I’m excited to report that many years later I outlined the complete methodology, statistical results, companies involved, and my conclusions about follow-up in an article entitled, “Leadership Is a Contact Sport” written with Howard Morgan and published in Strategy+Business, Fall 2004. Ten years later, we expanded this study to 248,000 respondents from 31 different companies from around the world. And the conclusion is the same: follow-up is the key to successful behavioral change.