The Importance of Following Through

Nearly two weeks ago, an armed teenager walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and killed seventeen people.  Over a month before this massacre took place, the Federal Bureau of Investigation received information from a concerned citizen identifying the killer as dangerous based on the facts that he was armed, had previously exhibited violent behaviors, and was making threatening comments online.  This tip came into the FBI Public Access Line and should have been forwarded to the Miami Field Office for further investigation, but it never was.  The FBI's failure to follow through with protocol, coupled with failures by the Broward County Sheriff's Office, allowed for the loss of many innocent lives.

Obviously, this is an extremely catastrophic and tragic example of the negative consequences that can result from failing to follow through on responsibilities.  Most of the time the results of such failures are not life threatening, especially if you work in a field that does not involve public safety.  Nevertheless, inconsistency in enforcing rules, maintaining standards, or adhering to protocols can be problematic in any industry and can adversely affect your organization's clients, employees, and leadership.

How Lack of Follow Through Hurts Customers

If you have ever been stood up for a date by a friend or romantic interest, or if you have ever felt ripped off after purchasing a product or service that did not turn out quite the way you expected, you understand how failing to follow through can hurt your customers.  And in the end, hurting your clientele will also hurt you.  

If you are providing a good or service to your customers, be clear about what will be provided and when, and then do everything in your power to meet your customers' expectations on time and on budget.  Failing to do so will give you and/or your company a reputation for unreliability and untrustworthiness that will be difficult to recover from quickly, if it is possible to repair your reputation at all.

How Lack of Follow Through Hurts Employees

Customers are not the only people adversely affected by a lack of follow through from leadership.  Employees depend on reliability from their leaders, and failing to provide that reliability can seriously impact company morale.  If the boss does not follow up on directives or breaks promises to team members, employees may feel that it is acceptable to do the same.  They may also feel a bit betrayed and begin thinking that they do not mean much to the organization's leaders.  

All of this is likely to result in dissatisfaction in the work place and a loss of productivity.  As a leader, it is important that you establish a good working relationship with associates and consistently maintain the standards you espouse in order to develop cohesion and unity within the organization, which will make for a more effective work environment.   

How Lack of Follow Through Hurts Leaders

As a leader, others depend on you for guidance and constancy.  If others see that you do not adequately bring these qualities to the organization, they will think that you are not fit to lead and will lose confidence in you.  Oftentimes it is a lack of follow through from the leader that creates this perception.  Indecision can paralyze any endeavor, but it is easy to delay action or reconsider difficult decisions.  Sometimes more information becomes available that prompts us to reassess a situation, and other times we may delay to get more feedback from associates so that they are more involved in the decision-making process.  

Ultimately, though, a decision must be made, and making an informed decision and following through with it will provide you more peace of mind as a leader while simultaneously instilling more confidence in your ability among employees who may equate indecisiveness with weakness. 

As you can see, failing to follow through can have serious ramifications for you as a leader and for all those who are associated with you.  Therefore, it is important that you follow up words with deeds and demonstrate a commitment to maintaining high standards of dependability.  Doing so will inspire those around you and allow your enterprises to thrive.  

Leadership Excellence offers leadership development programs in Cleveland and surrounding areas to help individuals and organizations develop the leadership skills to propel your business to a new level of success. Contact us today to learn more about our leadership consulting services.