The Five Whys of Follow-Up

temppicture1When General Dwight D. Eisenhower was first elected President in 1952, then President Harry S. Truman remarked:

He’ll sit here, and he’ll say, Do this! Do that! And nothing will happen.  Poor Ike [nickname for Eisenhower].  It won’t be a bit like the Army.  He’ll find it very frustrating.

As leaders, we have all encountered the same frustration.  We clearly ask someone to do something.  And it does not get done.

As all experienced leaders have come to realize, nothing happens in business without (first) clear direction and (second) relentless follow up.

You should never aspire to be a manager or an executive if you don’t do follow-up.  You won’t be happy, and you won’t do a good job, because that’s what leaders do most of the time.  Martin Zwilling

Below I offer the five key reasons why following up is an essential and daily leadership skill.

  1. Following up is how we can verify that what needs to get done is getting done.  As former President Ronald Reagan said:

Trust but verify

  1. Following up creates accountability with the team as they know that someone is checking up to ensure that they do what they say.  As former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner writes:

People respect what you inspect not what you expect.

  1. Following up gives you the opportunity to help solve a problem or break down a barrier for your team that is preventing work from being done.


  1. Following up gives you an opportunity to assess and develop your team and to compliment them for their good work and getting it done.

People don’t get better without follow up.  So let’s get better at following up with our people.  Marshall Goldsmith

  1. Following up serves as a reminder to your team to complete a task that they may have forgotten about or considered a lower priority.


To summarize, I quote a famous entrepreneur who once said:

The fortune is in the follow-up.



About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
This entry was posted in Improve / Turnaround, Perform / Execution, Team / People and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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