Ain’t What You Do

‘It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it
And that’s what gets results….

It ain’t what you do it’s the time that you do it
And that’s what gets results’

Old pop song

Those are the words of an old song, that has been covered many times. They came to my mind the other day as a reminder of a deeper wisdom. Doing the right thing isn’t enough, it has to be done in the right way too. This is true in many environments but I was thinking about corporate culture at the time.

There are two complimentary elements to this idea. Firstly, as a leader you have to do things in the way you want things done. We are all familiar with the almost clichéd piece of wisdom “Walk the Talk”. However, if you say one thing and do another people always believe what you do! We are virtually hardwired to respond this way. We only take around 7% of the meaning from a person’s words, the rest comes from what they are doing. Also, people need to understand how to ‘do’ the new behaviour so you have to model it. There is another component of this thought; if you introduce a system which, say, is meant to look after people in a way that disregards their interests or feelings, you have already lost before you have begun!

Stephen Covey said, “The way you spend your time is a result of the way you see your time and the way you really see your priorities” and people understand this!

Organisations as well as people have ‘body’ language. People are adept in reading this; it is what they talk about by the coffee machine and notice board. This apparent gap between words & deeds is often why they are so cynical.

“Culture of the mind must be subservient to the heart” Mahatma Gandhi

The way we do something speaks to what is important to us, to what is in our hearts. So we need to make sure that our intent is the right one and that we communicate it in the right way; that we do so congruently.

Like the song says, timing is also crucial. Doing the right thing, in the right way at the wrong time still leaves you with a problem! You have to act soon enough to make a difference, but not so soon that people can’t see the problem you are trying to solve. You have to act when the organisation has the energy, will and resources to act. If you wait in order to make sure that you make the ‘right’ decision, you may well have left it too late. As a leader you need to have a finger on the corporate pulse and move in harmony with that rhythm.

If you are tempted to hum along to this catchy little tune “It ain’t what you do it is the way that you do it, it ain’t what you do…”

Think about how much of this applies to you today, are you acting congruently?


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