man in a holeWhat makes a “doer” i.e. someone who gets stuff done? The kind of person you want on your team every time. The kind of person whose team you want to be on.

Fitness, sleep, energy. Pace, delivery, cycle time. Decision making, leadership, success. Fitness, sleep, energy. Pace, delivery, cycle time……

I’ve been thinking about these words and what sequence they fall in, if they are to make a virtuous circle.

And entrepreneurialism and passion, but I’ll save those for another day.

So what makes a “doer”, a leader who gets stuff done?

One can be high energy, decide quickly and deliver nothing. You can work fast and get no output that affects an internal or external customer experience. You can lead by listening intently, but ultimately you demonstrate deaf ears if you get nothing done as a result of listening.

There’s no right answer but here’s a way to think about it:

Fitness: exercise your body ever few days to stimulate the right chemicals round your brain, to give you stamina, to just switch off. Exercise works, even if it’s a walking meeting or two, rather than sitting down all day.

Sleep: Working late can thin your sleep. Early alarms can thin your sleep. Everyone has their own rhythms that work for them. Doing both, can start to show. Would you follow a knackered leader?

Energy: So if you work 60 or 70 hours a week then which part of your week are you going to take back and use for fitness, for sleep and for yourself and your family. Notice how leaders have many interests. Leaders do put family first without guilt. Width, depth. In and out of work. Curiosity needs exercising. Your time is yours to decide on – have you noticed?

So if I have fitness, sleep and energy, I’m at base camp as a leader.

mouse in mazePace can be a subjective thing. Tortoise or hare – which is your style? Do you plan slowly and move quickly, or skip planning and move about a lot, to see where you get? Or assess, build what’s needed and act when all is in place? Do you have sufficient impatience, high and even unreasonable expectations of people and what’s possible? But nothing you wouldn’t do yourself.

Delivery. Easily confused. Easy to test. Who’s your external customer, who’s your internal customer. Did something affect the external customer yet? How much? Of what value to them? Delivery only counts if it gets through to them.


Cycle time
. From the moment you started, how long did it take to affect the external customer? Did they know you were doing it for them?

So if I have pace, delivery that customers feel and short cycle times then I’m in the zone.

delivery cycle time to build empire state project

Decision making. At a personal or a business level. Is it true that any decision is better than no decision?

Many people could do worse than decide poorly. Many businesses have armies of people not making decisions in powerpoint and excel factories. At least getting stuff wrong quickly, leads to learning. So if stuck decide what to test quickly, small scale, low risk but make progress and move towards bigger decisions. Fast.

Many businesses are happy to examine and change processes. But designing high speed decisions in complex businesses is a science many have not discovered. They go undesigned. But it’s a high impact area. Think about it. Leave your processes to people who do the work. Solve the decision problems for them.

Leadership – well if you’ve got all the other words cracked, surely you’ve cracked it? Anything else? Hmmm…..another time, another story.

Success – surely it follows good leadership. Success removes pressure, gives you choices. Time and energy are easier to change. Virtuous circle restarts.

So 9 words to think about in this blog. So where does my title come in “Actions speak louder than ears”. 

If there’s one thing I see in smart leaders it is their ability to hold attention, even spread awe, with their acute listening. Few words used, but those words represent what people have said and not just what that leader thought before they heard those words. And because they really listened they find it hard not to act. Whereas many leaders listen through there own mental model, filtering out anything that doesn’t agree with their point of view. People can sense it, hear it. People experience lack of action. By definition, people have to experience action from “doers”.