“Belling the Cat,” a tale from the ancient Greek fabulist Aesop, points to the timeless dilemma of knowing versus doing. The story describes a counsel of mice trying to figure out how to deal with “the sly and treacherous manner” that the cat sneaks up on mice and kills them. A young mouse proposed putting a bell on the cat so all mice could hear it approach. Everyone applauded this solution (imagine the sound of little mouse paws clapping). Then came the big question; “who is to bell the cat.”
Many individual behavior changes or implementation plans aren’t as impossible as mice belling the cat. But as the German writer and statesman, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, pointed out, “knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
Knowing what we need to do, no matter how brilliant the flashes of insight or the urgency to improve, does not mean we are able to make the change. We know the way to higher profits is to increase revenues while decreasing costs, the way to decrease errors is to do it right the first time, or the cure for insomnia is to get more sleep. But none of those insights show us how to do it or build the habits that sustain the change.
Execution and follow through is the key to how extraordinary leaders get things done. We need to convert leadership theory to action and strategy to implementation. It’s transforming why to how and converting what to when.
Execution is the only way for a leader, team, or organization to succeed. But there’s a world of difference between knowing and doing. Understanding the road to be travelled is not the journey, it’s the preparation. The ultimate key to results isn’t what we know about increasing our effectiveness, but what we’re doing about it?
Zenger Folkman research shows that execution is an essential and distinguishing characteristic of top performing leaders. Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman provide a 35 minute webinar reporting on their latest research showing:
- The relationship between execution and a clear strategy
- Ways to develop your ability to execute well
- 3 clusters of researched companion behaviors
- Some faulty assumptions
- The key to successful execution
Click on Execution – The KEY to How Leaders Get Things Done to watch the webinar now.
Another bit of advice sometimes attributed to Aesop — among others — states “when all is said and done, a lot more is said than done.”