“Don’t Make Excuses…

No-More-Excuses1

…Make Changes.”

I came across this quote in a recent book I was reading called “Hacking Leadership” by Mike Myatt. It is mentioned in the context of hacking the status quo and it struck me how straightforward a statement it is yet so telling and powerful in its underlying message. It also got me thinking about how many leaders get derailed with excuses rather than making the changes necessary for their businesses. Just as troubling are the leaders who accept excuses from their teams when changes are not effectively executed.

By most definitions, excuses are used to deflect accountability. They are typically not factual or logical and may be only remotely related to the actual issue (who hasn’t heard “my dog ate it”!). Excuses don’t exist in nature and are created by humans to rationalize their own accountability gaps. There is no greater environment for accountability to falter than during times of change. Change is risky and, unfortunately, most of humanity is looking for stability, not change, in their lives.

So how does a leader see through the excuses from themselves or their teams and stay focused on the goal? From my own experience, I submit there are at least three ways to keep the excuses from interfering with the goal. By way of example, let’s use a typical situation where there are not enough resources on hand to complete a project by its original due date.

  • Stay on the Facts of the situation. If we settle for statements like “There are no resources available, so we can’t finish the project on time.” as a factual statement without probing further, then we are allowing excuses to impede progress. General statements can be quickly validated and verified by asking about exact quantities or conversations to ensure correct actions were at least attempted.
  • Listen for First-Person engagement. A statement like, “There are no resources available, so we can’t finish the project on time.” is missing any discussion of what the speaker did personally to resolve the shortage. Ask specific questions of what the person did to verify or validate the shortage through their own personal engagement. Hold them accountable sans excuses.
  • Focus on the Goal. Allowing a statement like, “There are no resources available, so we can’t finish the project on time.” to land without redirecting to alternatives to accomplish the goal, is irresponsible. People often get hung up on the obstacles and they forget to ask about, or consider, alternatives. Focusing the discussion on the goal versus the obstacle generally yields an alternative to overcome these obstacles.

Change is constant, and so is the opportunity for excuses to permeate our daily leadership. Recognizing how to effectively communicate through the excuses generates the desired results necessary for sustainable success!

What excuses are holding your change efforts back?

Lead Well!

“I’m a much different Athlete…
No More Excuses

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Comments 2

Guest - Devon on Thursday, 24 July 2014 09:00

Great article. I've seen people take obsticals and make changes and be successful. All while others are telling them that they have excuses for not being successful. Interesting.

Great article. I've seen people take obsticals and make changes and be successful. All while others are telling them that they have excuses for not being successful. Interesting.
Guest - RLochner on Thursday, 24 July 2014 11:22

Devon,

Thank you for your comment! What i find is the the ones who make changes are typically leading the ones making excuses for why they can's be successful.

Thanks again and trust the year is going well for you thus far!
Rick

Devon, Thank you for your comment! What i find is the the ones who make changes are typically leading the ones making excuses for why they can's be successful. Thanks again and trust the year is going well for you thus far! Rick
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