The Conflict Between Knowing and Doing

“Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold — but so does a hard-boiled egg..”

~ Unknown

The Conflict Between Knowing and Doing

By Richard L. Daft

Kings, heads of government, and corporate executives have control over thousands of people, and endless resources, but often do not have mastery over themselves.

From a distance, larger-than-life leaders may look firmly in control of their businesses and their personal behavior. What about up close? Personal mastery is a difficult thing. For example, can you think of any politicians in recent years whose personal behavior was revealed as opposite to their espoused values?

Or consider Fortune Magazine’s article a few years ago about why CEO’s fail. The records of thirty-eight ineffective CEO’s revealed that all were good at cognitive stuff – vision, strategy, ideas and the like. Things broke down during execution. The CEO’s behavior did not follow through on their thoughts and words. Action did not follow intention.

Things as simple as sitting too long on decisions, not confronting underperforming subordinates, or not delivering on commitments ended up harming the company. The CEO’s had plausible excuses, but it seemed clear that their actual behavior did not reflect their stated intentions. They seemed to know what to do but were not doing it.

Have you ever had a clear intention and then failed to follow through?

From: Daft, R. L., (2010). The executive and the elephant: a leader’s guide for building inner excellence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.  (p. 5)

Reprinted with permission from the OSU Leadership Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, (614) 292-3114,

Coaching Call to Action

For you and your company to be at peak performance, your intentions and actions must be aligned. What do you do to ensure that you are walking your talk? Share with us in the comments area below.