Deadlines and Dinosaurs: Leading Accountability

Why do professional, smart, highly motivated, ambitious people need other people for accountability?
 
Because we do.
 
Our Paleolithic, survival-motivated, dinosaur brains tell us that life is short, so enjoy today. Don’t do anything difficult right now because you might need that energy to escape the dangerous wooly mammoth that is chasing you. Conserve your energy. Why stand up when you can sit? Why sit when you can lie down? Take it easy. Whatever you need to do can probably be done tomorrow.
 
Lots of people apply this to their daily lives all too frequently.
 
This is why college students write papers the night before they are due. This is why we plan work a week out, and then scramble to finish it right before the meeting with the boss. This is why we delay doing our taxes until April 15th. This is why children have a bedtime.
People work to deadlines.
 
Most people need deadlines to help them prioritize what they need to get done, and what they need to get done first or now.
 
So give your people some deadlines!
 
Most people actually LIKE deadlines because we know we will accomplish what we need to do by that time. This gives us the sense of accomplishment and achievement, and makes us feel proud of ourselves. I know people who LOVE making lists so they can cross things off the list.
 
Few people like the idea of more and more projects piling up with no end in sight. We need to know there is an end. Deadlines give us that end and ensure we complete what we need to do.
 
As a leader, you are not being mean by giving your people deadlines. You are helping them prioritize. You are giving them an end. You are giving them an opportunity to cross something off their list.
 
Creating a series of milestones for a big project is not micromanaging. It is breaking things down to managing goals which can be done as a series of achievement.
 
Being a leader means understanding how humans process information and managing that in the workplace.
 
Now go adjust your own dinosaur brain and get something done.

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