Have you ever been in a situation where you saw a leader take a specific action, yet you had no idea "why" or "how" the leader decided to take that specific action? Well, I have too! That's why I decided to study various leaders that I have worked with over 22 years and before long, I started to get insights into why leaders do what they do.

More importantly, I started to understand that what a leader does is much deeper than the specific action he takes. The action is normally tied to an outcome or result that she wants to accomplish, yet it may not make sense when viewing it from a "present" moment perspective. This is why most people are standing around scratching their heads, watching leaders execute, yet they do not understand "why" the leader is doing what she is doing.

I wanted to understand "why," so this article is the 3rd of over 100 leadership insights that I have experienced in my career and that I intend to share with other leaders. This article focuses on leaders taking action.

Taking action means doing something that will take you one step closer to meeting your organization’s objectives and goals. Taking action requires a mindset of completion – getting on with what you need to accomplish…and finishing what you start.

Leaders are all about taking action; in general, they are leaders because they have proven that they can make things happen. Leaders take action in two ways: one way is for the leader to take action himself, however, if the leader frequently chooses this approach, he is not leading at all; a second way calls for the leader to influence others to take action. To be successful at influencing others to take action the leader must set priorities, provide clear guidance, show support for action-oriented followers and inject a sense of urgency.

Leaders are purposeful in what they do, in essence, they thrive on getting things done, but more importantly they focus on getting the right things done. By setting clear priorities, leaders focus their follower’s efforts on what’s most important.

Leaders know that clarity reduces confusion and increases productivity. By issuing clear guidance and instructions, leaders ensure that followers understand exactly what needs to be accomplished in the form of a task (what) and a purpose (why). The leader should never resort to telling followers “how” to execute a given task, leaving that to the followers’ intelligence, resourcefulness, and creative ability to figure out.

In order to foster a bias for action in followers and to encourage an action-oriented environment, the leader must underwrite honest mistakes by followers who pursue positive outcomes and/or results by taking action and the leader must reward followers who adopt an action-oriented mentality.

Finally, the leader can inject a sense of urgency by adding a suspense date and time for task completion. A suspense date and time definitely reinforces the urgent nature of the task. A cautionary note – if a task is not urgent, the leader must never apply artificial or false deadlines; because, in the future, when you really need your followers to execute quickly you will have lost credibility because of your past false alarms and artificial deadlines.

Author's Bio: 

Vernon Myers is the founder of 100 Leadership Insights, a site dedicated to observing, reflecting, gaining insight, and taking action on leadership insights. I am seeking to connect with people who have ideas, insights, and leadership experiences to share.

Vernon is also the author of The Idea Journal visit Get The Idea Journal to find out how to unleash your urge to create.

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