Leaders Take Action

It is always good to plan action. But it is far, far better to take action

When we discuss being deliberate and being disciplined, these are very similar traits. However, when we break them down, it can be determined that they are actually different traits. When we are being disciplined, we are committing to taking action on something that will benefit ourselves, and will benefit others.

When we are being deliberate, we are committing to taking action so that we can achieve a specific goal, or objective.

1. Having A Common Goal

Part of everybody’s role when I worked for the train operating company in Liverpool, was to help improve the performance of the trains when they were in service. That was the philosophy throughout the company, not just for the engineering department where I worked.

In 2008, a new asset management strategy was to be implemented by the engineering director and his team. I wanted to be part of his team so I was one of the first engineers to volunteer. This was an excellent opportunity for me to be very deliberate in the area of my personal growth, so this was my focus.

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If I was to work on myself, and help the team, then I had to make a huge commitment that would require a great amount of discipline. You will learn as you continue to read, the traits that are required when it comes to making this commitment and keeping disciplined.

The team and I were taking on a huge challenge, probably the biggest challenge any of us had faced in our careers so far.

As I was one of the first to volunteer, I was chosen to lead some of the activities that would form part of the asset management strategy. The duration of the strategy was a two year process, so it was a huge commitment from everybody.

2. Making A Commitment

I made the commitment to my engineering director and to the other leaders that I would take action every day. This required me to be deliberate with the specific actions I took, every single day. My leadership skills required improvement so I was reading leadership books, and materials every day.

I still do to this day. I had little experience in asset management, so I read books on asset management strategies. I had to keep disciplined when it came to my reading. I made sure I wouldn’t procrastinate or cut corners in any way. I made the commitment, so I needed to follow through.

When I started leading some of the activities as part of the asset management strategy, the teams knew that I didn’t have a lot of leadership experience. So, they played on that quite a lot to begin with. However, it my job to change how they thought about my abilities.

For me to do that, I had to build trust and build relationships with the team. If I was to build trust then I would have to be deliberate, and know the process inside out. I had to know the activities and what was required better than anyone else.

3. Making Sacrifices

So that’s what I did. I made the sacrifices to learn as much as I could, and become very knowledgeable. I had to know and understand the requirements of the team, so we could work together to achieve the desired results. As a team, that is exactly what we did.

From 2008 to 2009 the asset management team as a whole achieved an improvement in train performance of 40%. We were very proud. We also seen an improvement in our own engineering department’s performance. In the end we achieved great things as a team, and we were recognised for it.

As with most teams, we didn’t just have highly effective leaders. We had low performing leaders too. Can you guess what they focussed most of their energy on? Let’s just say that if we had followed their advice when we started out, then we would not have achieved anything.

In fact the performance of the whole department, including the trains would have decreased. They would constantly be telling me that the asset management strategy was a bad idea. That I didn’t have enough experience to help lead the activities.

They wondered, “Why we needed to change things when we were already “doing ok?” Well, I didn’t want to just do ok, and neither did the rest of the team. We wanted to achieve amazing things, and have an amazing time while doing it.

Thankfully, nobody listened to the low performing leaders, especially the highly effective leaders. Whatever the low performing leaders were trying to sell, nobody was buying from them.

4. Be Deliberate In Taking Action

The team instead decided to take responsibility for what we were trying to achieve, and we all became deliberate in TAKING ACTION to make things happen. The improvement of 40% in performance of the trains in service resonated throughout the whole business.

Our engineering department was growing in performance and we were growing in size because of our achievements.

Unfortunately when a new strategy is being introduced in any business, there always seems to be an “us and them” within the teams. Throughout my career, I have seen this so often. The “us” side of the team are the highly effective leaders, and the “them” side of the team are the low performing leaders.

The high performing leaders are the people who support the new strategy. They want to share the vision, and the mission that the leader has set. The low performing leaders are the people who don’t support the new strategy. They want to do the exact opposite to the leader’s vision and mission.

I have yet to be part of an organisation where everybody within the team are all pulling in the right direction. Maybe you can be the first to make this happen in your organisation.

If there are any process improvements, or new strategies about to be implemented within your organisation, then make sure you are part of it. Volunteer and make the same commitment to lead part of the activities for your team.

When you do that, you are proving to the leaders that you have a positive attitude about the new process improvement. You will also be taking responsibility, and being deliberate by taking action.

When I decided to be part of the asset management strategy I discussed earlier, I could feel my mindset changing. I was a lot more positive, and could feel myself becoming a highly effective leader.

I found it easier to focus on what I and the team were striving to achieve. Before I volunteered, I felt like I was doing the same thing each day and going through the motions. I was not being deliberate, every day. But now, I had a new purpose, and I became a lot more deliberate.

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The team and I were becoming a lot more productive, and we started doing things that would save time in our areas of work. When somebody had a new idea, we would embrace it and try it out. If it didn’t work then we would move on, if it did then we would continue with it.

There was no more discarding of ideas before we even tried it out. This made the team and I a lot happier. When we had our team meetings, they became very efficient because everyone knew what everyone else was doing. We were working as highly effective leaders, and the low performing leaders were missing out.

It’s amazing to think what it would be like if everybody in your organisation, and everybody in the organisation’s I’ve worked in previously had the same kind of attitude, and was deliberate. Who knows what we all could achieve?

What if our countries leaders had the same attitudes and ways of thinking? Our world would be in a much better place. Being deliberate is a pretty easy concept in order for us to take action on things. It is up to you to lead your team, and your organisation through this.

So, BE DELIBERATE and TAKE ACTION.

You may not have all the answers, but don’t let that stop you. Make the most of what you have, and don’t give up.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

30 thoughts on “Leaders Take Action

  1. Hey Tom, thanks for sharing this post. As always, I learned a lot from you. Great stuff!

    I like to consider myself an action taker and I like to motivate other people to take action toward their goals, dreams and ambitions. Sometimes, it can be frustrating to see how many people are afraid to take action, or simply are just lazy. Nonetheless, it’s awesome to always move forward and see others who are doing the same.

    I like all your suggestions here, especially the last one, be deliberate in taking action. That is actually the key to achieving results. Sometimes the results can be negative, but at least you took action and got a chance to learn a lesson.

    Thanks again for sharing this post. Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Ivan,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you have learned a lot from this article. I hope you put into action what you have learned.

      I agree that it is very frustrating when we don’t see people taking action on their abilities or goals. Especially when that person is part of your team. Keep taking action and striving towards your goals and dreams.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Hi Tom,
    I had many reflections on my own experiences reading this article. I think back to a situation 14 years ago when I was promoted to lead a number of teams. Prior to that, I had been leading one group of around 100 engineers and technicians all with similar backgrounds to me in audiovisual and TV engineering. Now I was in charge of other areas as well including building maintenance, architectural projects, and now I had around 300 people that I was responsible for. This was a real challenge as I had to win over groups of specialists from other areas and be able to give direction and have that direction accepted. I realized that there were two kinds of leadership approaches that could be adopted. Of course, there are more than two depending on which lens you are looking through. At the time I could see how many managers and leaders were really just caretakers. In fact, there were some parts of the larger organization where toeing the line and being conservative, rigidly maintaining the status quo were positively rewarded. You could see how people who got promoted in those parts of the organization fit that mold. I decided fairly early on that I was not going to fall into that mode.
    But back to the title and main argument of this article – yes. It is better to act than not to act and it is usually better to plan when you act. And if you are not careful planning can look like inaction. What a leader can do, assuming you are leading others who lead and direct teams of others is to make the planning process action in itself. Include targets and deadlines in the planning process. Avoid being wishy-washy about what happens next. This is where leaders have to look ahead and build a vision even when many of the details are still being filled in.
    Thanks for a great article
    Best regards
    Andy

    1. Hi Andy,

      Thank you for your very detailed article as always. Means so much to me that you can take a lot from this article and hopefully take action.

      When you plan your action, make sure you son’t just leave it at that. We must act on our plan and we must keep the plan evolving as we act on it.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. Really great tips man, it is clear from your posts that you have been a leader for some time and that you take action. Most people just talk about taking action and never do. I agree with your heading, it is great to plan for action but far far better to take action. It is amazing how things start to come together when you get into action. The hardest step is the first as they say. Cheers man.

    1. Hi Robb,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy that you found this a great article.

      I completely agree that when we take action, things come together and start to happen.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. Every time I read one of your articles I feel stronger as a person. I learn so much from you! I currently do not lead any teams but I have in the past and I wish I had thought to do some of the things you suggest. I would have made a much better leader. A lot of thought goes in to your articles. I wish I had taken more time to learn and think about things when I was a leader.

    Even though I no longer lead a team I feel like I could now (but in an effective way this time!). I will try to be more deliberate in my choices and actions!

    1. Hi Brianna,

      Thank you for your comment. The fact that you feel stronger when you have read one of my articles really makes me feel stronger and inspired too.

      It’s great that you can reflect on your past experiences as a leader because it is important to know what you did well and what you need to develop. When you take over your next team, you will be in a much better position to and have the passion to do a great job for your team. You will be able to influence them to be their best and build trust with them.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. Tom,
    This is a great post filled with a great deal of useful information.

    Being deliberate in taking action is extremely important in making any business successful. It can’t be stressed enough.

    Making a commitment and being a team player rank very high with we me as well.

    Thank you for sharing your post.

    1. Hi Barbara,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m pleased that you found this article valuable.

      I agree that being deliberate is extremely important in making business successful.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Hey Tom,

    There’s something that struck me while I was reading, and it is something that I have seen time-and-time again with low performing leaders.

    It’s the attitude of “We’re doing OKAY, so is there really any need to change anything?”

    In fact, I found over the years that most ineffective leaders were resistant to change, and therefore failed to take positive action.

    I’ll even go as far to say that many of these low performing leaders put so much time and effort into not taking action and moaning about the changes that were afoot.

    If they had just used 50% of this “negative energy” to actually just take action on whatever changes the company was looking to make, well let’s just say they would’ve probably been a lot happier and more successful.

    I love your idea of continually reading in order to become more knowledge about leadership and propel yourself forward.

    This is definitely something that I have done throughout my management career.

    As far as I’m concerned, you’re never the finished article, so it’s important to “take action” on a daily basis in improving and refining your own skills.

    Thanks for a great read as always Tom.

    Partha

    1. Hi Partha,

      Thank you for your detailed comment as always. I’m glad that this article has resonated with you.

      I agree that a lot of low performing leaders don’t want to change anything if things are going OK. The first reason for that is because of the threat they feel if people start to develop, and could maybe take over their job. This wouldn’t happen but they still feel the threat. The other reason for that is because change takes hard work. Low performing leaders do not want to put in the hard work.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. I consider myself an action taker. I always do what I say, it is one of my principles. I can relate when you write that between effective and ineffective employees and leaders there is an “us” and “them” division. We have that at work as well, a little.
    I like how you worked with your teams, and how a new idea would be embraced and tried out. I feel valued at work and my ideas are listened to and taken into consideration. Our boss often asks for our opinion and participation. I see him as an action taker as well, but sometimes he finds his hands tied because he has other superiors to report to and they may not always agree with his or our proposals. How can you be an action taker when the obstacle to take action is upper management?

    1. Hi Christine,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that this article resonated with you.

      I would consider you an action taker too having got to know you over this time. When it comes to upper management, it is up to you to lead and influence them. If you want to learn how to do that then please get in touch.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. I really enjoyed this post Tom, and admire the way you’ve helped your team members achieve success. It’s important to encourage others within a team and bring out the best in them. Though I’m not part of a management team, I’m very self-motivated and always take action on my goals and plans

    1. Hi Kathy,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you enjoyed this article, means a lot to me.

      It’s great to hear that you are self-motivated and take action. Even though you are not part of a management team, you can still lead and put into practice the leadership principles that I share.

      Keep returning, keep leading and keep engaging.

      All the best,

      Tom

  9. Hey Tom, another great post my friend.

    I always learn something from your detailed posts and can see you are very passionate in the leadership roles that you have undertaken in your career.

    Its a shame there aren’t many more out there who are prepared to go that extra mile.

    Instead what you find are people in leadership positions who are just going through the motions and happy by just doing enough.

    I think what you see are people in jobs that they don’t really like and this always shows through, with yourself, I can see you are very dedicated.

    For many leaders, it’s so much easier to just do enough!

    Keep them coming and thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Mick,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found this a great article.

      It is a shame that there aren’t more leaders out there who are willing to go that extra mile for their people. That is what I am trying to influence and I want to help leaders embrace that side of leadership.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  10. Hi Tom, in internet marketing circles, the phrase “be consistent in what you do” is frequently tossed around. But it’s just discipline by another name.

    Setting business or personal goals is great and a deliberate or conscious decision, but they’re pipe dreams unless you have the discipline to do the work to reach those goals.

    That’s why great athletes achieve such impressive results. They’re willing to sacrifice to reach their goals.

    Most of us, however, aren’t in that boat. We want easy street, to do as little work as possible to get by.

    Sacrifice and discipline are just too hard. It’s why most people don’t succeed at losing weight and keeping it off. Or why online entrepreneurs see their nascent businesses fail.

    I took early retirement from working for other people partly because good leaders were few and far between. People became managers because they were on the corporate ladder and it was time for them to move one rung up. It had nothing to do with ability.

    They frequently got no managerial training and had to wing it. They would make decisions without consulting their staff and then blame the staff when the deadlines they had agreed with clients proved to be unrealistic and unmet.

    The best manager I ever had wasn’t a manager. He was a software guy who was landed in the role when the manager that had been hired got cold feet and resigned.

    He understood us software guys and how to address the issues we raised. We worked as a truly coordinated team and pulled off a small miracle, all because we had that one good, natural, leader.

    He’s the only manager who had short daily morning meetings where we went over what had gone well the day before, what hadn’t and what was needed to address those issue, and didn’t waste time holding long, boring, time-wasting meetings.

    By contrast, in another company, great fanfare was made of the new software manager that senior management parachuted in to coordinate us all.

    Except he didn’t. I didn’t see him for 6 months until he called everyone on our team into the meeting room to give us all a dressing down for not meeting a deadline.

    This despite the fact that problems on the project had been flagged months earlier.

    He started demanding that the team work 12 hour days and weekends (no overtime to be paid) to fix the problem.

    I wasn’t having any of it. I asked a simple question: “So where have you been for the last 6 months?”

    Needless to say, he didn’t take that very well. His sort never do.

    Both of us left the company soon after, me voluntarily, him apparently not.

    It was that kind of BS that made me quit working (and I saw a lot of it in my career), even though at that stage I was running my own company and leasing out my services as a software contractor.

    So, today, I work full time from home, but I’ve been doing it for 17 years now. I’m an affiliate marketer and still enjoy what I do. I have made sacrifices for this solitary lifestyle but I’ve gained more than I’ve lost.

    I continue to set goals but I do struggle from time to time with being disciplined and consistent.

    1. Hi Gary,

      Thank you for your very detailed article. I am pleased that this article has made you reflect on your past career and the leaders you worked with.

      There will be many people who read this article who will see your comment, and some of them will be in the same boat as you. I am getting the impression that you didn’t like working with the leaders in your past role. They are the type of leaders that I want to help so they can strive towards becomeing a highly effective leader. I want to help these leaders put their people first.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  11. Hi. I love the idea of being deliberate about taking action. I tend to procrastinate. But when I get started, there’s no stopping. I find if I don’t have a goal, it’s easier to procrastinate. And even if I have a goal, I need a clear plan of action, otherwise, I stay immobilized. Thanks for your article.

    1. Hi Shalisha,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found this article valuable.

      I appreciate your honesty because I used to be a person who procrastinated a lot. Procrastination still creeps in from time to time. But, that is OK as long as we notice it and address it. A lot of people procrastinate so much that they don’t realise they do it. So it is good that you notice it and you now know to take action.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  12. Hi Tom!
    Thanks for this great post – as always you motivate and inspire me!
    I like your approach being deliberate in taking actions to improve the results of the team. I haven’t been a leader, but I have observed many bosses in my career and I know how disappointing it is, when your boss doesn’t like to develop any new strategies because he or she is satisfied with “doing OK”.
    And I like the point to make a sacrifice as well, because we need to spend a lot of time to educate ouselfs to become a good leader.
    I’m trying to be an action taker in my goals, although sometimes it is not easy, because we all afraid to face something completely new.
    I have enjoyed reading your post, thanks for sharing it again!
    Alex

    1. Hi Alex,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that this article has inspired you.

      Being deliberate when taking action is so important. A lot of people talk about taking action, but they never actually get round to taking the action because they are not deliberate. They are the people who make plans and stick them in the drawer. But, you know better and that you need to act on your plan.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  13. Great Article! I’m glad I came across it. I like how you explained the sacrificing something. Sacrificing shows true passion and dedication and puts you on the path of truly earning your results.

    Great takeaways in this article. I look forward to more!
    Jamie L.

    1. Hi Jamie,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you found this a great article.

      You are right, sacrificing does show true passion if you are willing to give up things that you love doing to pursue your dream and help your people through leadership.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  14. Hi Tom,

    This is a great post for anyone who is needing advice in their leadership roles. Even those of us who don’t manage a team, but manage ourselves and our time. It’s all fantastic advice and lessons.

    I commend you for sticking with reading leadership books everyday! I tried reading through one in my last job where I was a building manager and I just couldn’t get through it!

    I really love at the end of your article that you shared how you and your team embraced each others ideas. Whether they worked out or not, you tried them. That’s so important in a workplace. It boosts creativity, which boosts morale and overall, creates a more successful team and work environment where everyone feels safe to speak out. More people in leadership positions need to read your post!

    1. Hi Haley,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found this a great article, means a lot to me.

      Reading leadership books at the beginning, I thought would be boring. But, as I started reading them I found them so inspiring. It is after reading these books that I decided to start writing myself. I love sharing my leadership stories, especially when they help people like yourself.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  15. Thank you for this great article on Leaders Take Action. I was especially impacted by the section on making a commitment. It’s important when someone makes a commitment that they follow through. I think people that make a commitment and are consistent in the actions can be a successful leader. I’ve taught my daughters to make a commitment and stick to it. No quitters allowed!
    Thanks again and best wishes!!

    1. Hi Alyse,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s my pleasure to share this article and I am so pleased that you found it valuable.

      You are right, when we make a commitment, it is so important that we follow through on that commitment. That is when we are leading by example and start to inspire others. If we don’t follow through on our commitments then our relationships will weaken and our trust will decrease.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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