Improved Leadership. Competitive Advantage.

80% of those who start PhDs never finish. A staggering statistic suggests that a full 50% of all doctoral candidates fail to earn their degree despite finishing all coursework. The stumbling block, of course, is the writing of the dissertation. Those who fail to progress often suffer from a lack of follow-thru. Follow-thru is the ability of an individual, team, or organization to deliver on a project or commitment-regardless of the difficulty. Not surprisingly, this notion of follow-thru is readily apparent in top-performing organizations, while conspicuously absent in lower-tier organizations. When we fail to follow-thru, we are making a statement-a declarative statement about ourselves, and our organizations.

This is what we say about ourselves when we fail to deliver on a commitment. First, it shows that we are easily distracted. Those individuals and organizations that follow-thru tend to be able to focus their attention better and stronger. To be clear, follow-thru doesn't require focus. It requires a steady, continual, and unwavering application of focus. Second, lack of follow-thru highlights a lack of endurance and stamina. About a decade ago, the U.S. Marine Corps added 'endurance' to their core Leadership Principles. One of the reasons is that follow-thru-especially on the difficult, trying, and complex projects, initiatives, or commitments-requires more time. Marine Corps leadership must've understood this unassailable truth-anyone can be committed for a day or two, even a month or two. True follow-thru, however, means extending that horizon to several months, if not years. Third, when an individual or organization fails to follow-thru, we see a lack of courage. When the going gets tough (and it always does), can the leadership team remain resolute in the face of naysayers, cynicism, and negative politicking? When a project gets bogged down, weaker leaders and soft organizations will roll over at the first sign of trouble and pain. Conversely, the very best organizations stay the course and continue to march. Finally, and related to the points above, when we fail to follow-thru, we demonstrate that we lack the will to persevere-the political, internal, and organizational will to drive on. This is quite damning. When followers and other stakeholders observe this lack of will, they lose confidence in the leadership team or organization. This lack of confidence is haunting as it will hinder or stop the next project or initiative before it even gets off the ground. A vicious circle is born. Failing to follow-thru hurts organizational confidence, which makes future projects/commitments less likely to succeed, which further hurts confidence.

Fortunately, follow-thru can be learned. Call Robin Bichy, an ELP founder and principal, at 703.999.5676, to learn more about how our process can build the follow-thru you need to win.