Use of A then B An Effective Leadership Tool


#Leadership #Selfdevelopment #Delegation #Executivesuccess #Personneldevelopment


When it comes to leading well, I really like simple. It can be a powerful self development aid to keep things simple. By simple I mean to the point, dead easy to understand, no confusion and complete, no hanging questions. To dry and put away the dishes is a perfect example of A then B. The A is dry the dishes and the B is put them away. Easy. When the Leader is delegating using ” A then B” those being led are most likely to get it right.

Notice that it is A then B, not A or B, not A and B, not A anything B, and not if A then B, just A then B. Do A first. When complete, then, do B. It is like put on pants first, then put on shoes. Use appropriate combinations of A then B to suit the situation and the person being directed. Mow the lawn, then sweep the sidewalk. Sell 23 cars, then order the first load of new models. Obtain city approval to build the skyscraper, then start construction. Not rocket science and yet can really make things go smoothly. Imagine some of the possible ramifications of not having city approval and starting to build, for example.

I use A then B to keep me accountable to myself. Post one article on LinkedIn, then go to Starbucks. It can take some extra levels of personal discipline to get me to Starbucks, but I have this agreement with myself and I honor it. Nobody even knows, except you now do. In the same way that ‘appropriateness’ can make or break a successful outcome in interacting with a colleague, I can over or under promise (as I might over or under request from an employee) and tip success over instead of accelerating it. If the article is to be 3000 words and has not been started yet, Starbucks is unlikely for today. That is not motivating me. If the article is to be blog size, say 600 words, I can taste my latte already. Unless… I have not yet settled on a topic I believe I know enough about in order to produce a useful piece. So here we have a part of the internal conversation about specifics that I am well advised to have and settle. A then B is all that was needed to get it going.

A then B is simple, except when it is not. Defining A in a manner that the person (me sometimes) who is to do it clearly understands it, is vital. If we are talking pants and shoes, chances are the result we want is on the way. Clean your room, then go out to play, is not in the same league as, clean up your reputation, then run for Mayor.

This idea is the seed of a dozen, dozen conversations. There are many times when the basic idea can do wonders to bring clarity, accountability and results. It would be too easy to offer examples of where A then B does little to add and could subtract (if for instance used in a way that one could validly claim micro-management).

Here is a take away for you. Think about one possibility where A then B might be quite effective (this is your A) and then try it (your B). Have fun.

Joseph Seiler MCC