This is a review of a book every manager should have in their coaching arsenal.
Laurence Haughton talks about why he wrote his book much better than I can in this snippet that he had written for a guest author post on 800-Ceo-Read:
It’s Not What You Say” It’s What You Do was inspired by two facts:
One: Only a handful of serious performance problems in business are due to external issues like a recession, oil embargo, change in industry regulations or any other outside, uncontrollable event. 83 percent of all the stalls in sales and profits are caused by “internal, controllable factors.”
Two: Companies invest tens of thousands of strategy days every year looking for evidence of these internal factors and then dreaming up a fix. But their organizations will fail to follow through on their initiatives half of the time.
I decided if I could figure out what obstacles are keeping organizations from consistently following through I could help all companies avoid the internal, controllable issues that cause businesses to stall.
4,000 pages of research and 18 months of in-field observations later I had landed on four major reasons why organizations fail to follow though and 13 specific fixes that help managers make sure what’s expected gets done (the definition of following through from a leaders’ perspective).
I’m a very trusting reader – probably too trusting, and that formidable research Haughton offers up in his book did stall me somewhat from really getting into it in the beginning, for I am usually so eager for whatever an author has to say I don’t have to be convinced. However, it turned out to be a case of my own focus and relevance to everything else in my world at the time. I should have started in the middle, for I devoured the second half of the book in one sitting. Then I went back and read the beginning again and loved it (especially the sections called Read Between the Lines, and Find a Champion).
I promise you this: If you are a manager or leader, you’ll get a lot of answers to your own What’s in it for me? questions by reading Laurence’s book. You see, the reasons which “cause businesses to stall” and “why organizations fail to follow though” are about us: WE cause the stalls when we don’t follow up.
Case in point: Just this week, I sat with a leadership team who asked for my coaching in setting up some leadership training using their own talent within the company (and they have a wealth of it).
The key frustration they had was that they wanted answers on how to coach other managers to “take ownership.” Well, following through is the critical second part of ownership (the first part is committing to your decision to do it).
Turns out, there is a lot to that following through part: It’s easier said than done.
The gift Laurence Haughton has given all of us, is that he’s broken it down into such a great how to. He tackles follow through just as he promises, and in doing so, he coaches us to better effectiveness in a lot of sound management practice and forward-thinking leadership which is cognizant of the challenges.
For me, some of the best parts of this book were the profiles of great management and leadership Haughton offers up. As you know, I talk about strengths management a lot. I am now on my third reading, and in this third, specifically targeted reading, I am doing my own study on what the characteristics of these people profiled are besides their exceptional follow-through. This time, reading It’s Not What You Say” It’s What You Do is more practice for me in identifying the strengths of winners.
This is the short synopsis of the book:
Haughton talks about 4 Building Blocks.
To make sure that what’s expected actually gets done a manager must:
[Graphics are from Haughton’s website: http://www.laurencehaughton.com ]
Each one of these building blocks consist of three or four chapters, and Haughton has packed a goldmine in his book’s 238 pages: It’s Not What You Say” It’s What You Do is one of those books for me that is thoroughly marked up and annotated — I even added to his index!
If you are a manager, this is a book to study. Keep the book close by, for you can use the Table of Contents to jump to the right place just when you need it to breathe a fresh perspective into some follow-through problem you’re wrestling with, or to help you get on the right track with setting better habits for yourself.
Personally, I’m having a lot of fun reaching for it right now, because it connects so perfectly with the Language of Intention theme I have set for Talking Story in 2006.
Haughton introduces a wealth of vocabulary for managers which isn’t necessarily new, but may be new to them. As a coach, I find that situations become much more recognizable for us as lessons-learned when we can name them. Haughton is very effective in bringing badly needed attention to our challenges by giving us identifiable language to use. In It’s Not What You Say” It’s What You Do you’ll find references to lean versus mean, skunking, and you’ll begin to hold champions in the highest regard. Even something as mundane sounding as sunk costs takes on a bit more meaning as a trap snaring us against letting go when we need to.
Trust me, you are sure to hear more about the Language of Intention as connected to thoughts that this book has whipped into new energy for me. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, be sure you come back tomorrow for my interview with Laurence Haughton.
Between now and then, visit his website, especially if you don’t have a copy of the book for yourself yet: Haughton has given you a lot of appetizers there!
Postscript: If you are an author, Haughton’s website is an exceptional model to check out.