Conducting Transformation: Getting Things Done

Make things as simple as possible…but no simpler. – Albert Einstein

ACCOMPLISHMENTHugh’s simple definition of a leader –

A leader is:

  • A person who gets things done
  • A person who knows how things get done
  • A person who influences others

I use this leader description whenever I give keynotes, or lead workshops or planning sessions for organizations. People want to create a complex definition of leadership. Complex and detailed descriptions are prolific all over the Internet. As far as I’m concerned, that’s way too much information. Give me a simple concept and I can execute it.

In organizations, people are not clear about who’s a leader. They don’t know whose responsibility it is to get things done, so they wait for the anointed leader to provide directions or the answer needed to move forward. And leaders certainly don’t provide a positive influence on others in the system, because they are not functioning as leaders. They don’t get things done. They are merely clocking in time for a paycheck.

I’ve worked up 3 posts – one on each of the descriptions above.

So…getting things done is leadership, eh? Yes, it is. Leaders are people who get things done. It seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not.

I work with so many people who can’t get everything accomplished that’s on their minds, their “to-do” lists, and in their creative beings. They just don’t know how. In organizations, people who don’t perceive themselves as leaders (they don’t have a title, or don’t feel that they have permission, or there’s no benefit in taking the initiative), that they don’t perform at a very high standard.

These are all results of the visionary leader, the organization’s top leader, not providing clarity. Clarity comes in several forms: structural, tactical, relational, and functional, to name a few.

Rather than delving into those themes in this post, I’m going to move forward with clarity in terms of role, responsibility, and plan. If the leader does not have a written overall plan, which I find to be true in way too many instances, there is no context for defining ways for everyone to function at a high level. Therefore, getting things done by the visionary, organizational leader is the key to others getting things done. The leader sets the pace for the team.

Clarity, here, means an overall strategic plan, with action plans for each member of the organization.

The other dynamic for getting things done is that the leader sets the example for this. It’s not about talk. It’s about action and results. Rather than being guilty of perfection paralysis in continuing to perfect a plan, test a plan, or consider options, rather than executing what is possible, this is sending a message to others that it’s ok to wait for action.

Getting things done is my benchmark for top-level leadership. There’s no substitute for accomplishment.

Promise and deliver. The leader is responsible for cultural formation.

How will you change yourself to get important things done?


Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership Strategist

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Hugh Ballou (Author)