More Cattle and Less Hat: The Importance of Delivering on Your Commitments

“The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.” Confucius (551B.C. – 479B.C.), Chinese philosopher

The first ninety days of any significant organization change are pivotal on many levels. For instance, what people say and do are watched with a fine lens. And, there is little worse than a new colleague speaking a big game and then delivering little to nothing. In the South [the southern United States], we call that ‘All Hat and No Cattle.’ One of my favorite sayings.

You are working to establish new relationships, and what you do now is quite important in establishing future success. I find that it is true – you rarely get a second chance to make a good first impression. If you say you are going to do something – especially in those first ninety days when people are still figuring out the new world – then do it! Of course, things do come up; if so, then follow up and explain to your colleagues why you could not deliver on your commitments.

How would your new colleagues describe your and your team’s partnering efforts with them? Would they think your interests were their interests? Would they feel like you’re genuinely trying to save them money or time (or make them money, help them to look good or to feel good), or just talking a good story?

Demonstrate a commitment to your business relationship with them by delivering on your promises. Here are some ideas to get started on being more action-oriented in your change efforts:

  • Provide information that helps address your colleagues’ needs. Do this on a regular and frequent basis [weekly if not daily], especially while you are still in the initial relationship establishment stage.
  • Establish mutual long-term goals with your primary contacts, and work continually to help them achieve their goals where your expertise is a fit.
  • Orchestrate efforts among various groups at your company to help each serve your colleagues and new customers better. Anticipate needs and solve them before they become problems.
  • Conduct educational seminars, or any opportunity to help others learn.

I think Confucius would agree with me in suggesting that you put some more cattle and less hat into your next organizational [or team, or industry] change. I can confirm that the rewards are fantastic. Big words are for the transactional. Big actions are for the relational. So get those big actions in gear to have even more success in establishing relationships to sustain successful change!

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Sandra Schwan

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