I once heard it said that when all is said and done, a lot more is said than done. People who actually follow through with what they say they will do are worth their weight in gold. There are reasons why some people don’t follow through and you might very well be one of them. Dan Rockwell share 4 reasons people don’t follow through and how to resolve the problem.

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

A person who doesn’t follow through is worse than having no one at all.

How to resolve 4 reasons people don’t follow through:

#1. No follow up results in no follow through.

I had a boss who assigned tasks, but didn’t follow up. Often she never brought it up again. I learned to wait for her to ask a second time. 

I’m not proud of my no-follow-through strategy. I excused myself because I didn’t want to waste my time doing things that didn’t matter.

Follow up.

#2. Confusion leads to paralysis. A squirrel that can’t decide gets run over. What’s clear to you may be confusing to others.

10 steps to clarity:

  1. Model the behaviors you expect from others. Watch me.
  2. Debrief. What did you see?
  3. Try with me.
  4. What did you learn?
  5. Try on your own. Establish where, when, and how.
  6. Debrief.
  7. Release, but follow up frequently.
  8. What’s working? What could be better?
  9. Relax oversight as confidence grows.
  10. Teach newly learned skills to others.


#3. Intimidation drains power. The result of intimidation is dependence. Pressuring timid people increases apprehension – apprehension creates dependence. 

5 reasons you intimidate, but don’t know it:

  1. You think you’re smiling, but you’re frowning.
  2. Your quick mind makes others play catch-up.
  3. You always think about problems.
  4. You talk loud and violate people’s space.
  5. You hoard knowledge and keep others in the dark.

It feels safer to do the wrong thing than to get clarity from a scary boss.

4 ways to soften intimidation:

  1. Show up when things are going right.
  2. Share things you learned from failure.
  3. Tell your face you’re happy.
  4. When people fail, ask, “What did you learn? What will you do differently next time?”


#4. Absence of priority. A person with ten priorities follows through on the urgent, not the important.


How might leaders develop follow through in others?