Firepower: Follow-Through

Published by Christy Reed on

Firepower: Follow-Through

Phil Connor

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Growing up, I was singularly focused on one sport. Baseball was my passion. I spent the fall of 1986 listening to the playoffs and World Series on the radio so I could document the game on scorekeeping sheets (which is not very common today). Baseball is a combination of action and strategy. In professional leagues, teams play 162 games each season, which requires tenacity, flexibility, and endurance. Whether it’s warming up on the field before a game or stretching and icing down after the game has been played, the great teams know the importance of the fundamentals. By knowing the fundamentals, players can be prepared mentally and physically for what they will encounter in games. One fundamental in baseball is throwing with proper technique. This requires follow-through to reduce the risk of injury and increase the accuracy of the throw. Similarly, follow-through is important in our business and personal lives to ensure we maintain effectiveness and deliver the results our customers expect.

Great teams know the importance of the fundamentals.

Follow-through means doing what we say we will do. It also means communicating if and when things change, especially when others depend on us. It’s about reliability. Merriam-Webster explains that the verb form of “follow through” means “to press on in an activity or process, especially to a conclusion.” The definition of the verb form of “follow up,” on the other hand, is “to pursue in an effort to take further action.” There is a subtle but meaningful difference between the two. Follow-up is simply a step in the process of getting to the next stage. Follow-through is about accomplishing a task and creating closure. Both are critically important and powerful when executed well and consistently.

Follow-through is a critical aspect of leadership success. As Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan state in Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done, “Follow-through is the cornerstone of execution, and every leader who’s good at executing follows through religiously. Following through ensures that people are doing the things they committed to do according to the agreed timetable.”

With all of that in mind, let’s examine some simple ways we can ensure that we follow through well.

  • Find Coaches: We should commit to understanding the fundamentals of our trade and find coaches or mentors who can help and guide us.
  • Create Goals: We should establish goals and measure progress.
  • Show Courage: We should experiment and fail fast, which means we must be willing to take risks.
  • Ask Questions: We should be curious.
  • Express Gratitude: We should show appreciation to those who help us, realize that no one can accomplish great things alone, and send thank-you notes as needed.
  • Communicate Better: We should focus on listening to understand.
  • Build Networks: We should remember that the more people we know, the more people we can help—and the more they can help us.

The significance of follow-through is not just about what we do but how we do it. After we set goals for ourselves, we need to outline our plan on how we will achieve them. Next, we need to document the specific steps we need to take. With each step, we should also note what needs to be accomplished, by whom and by when. Being organized is critical to this planning phase of being effective and consistent. Not being organized is an unfortunate form of self-sabotage that we can avoid. If we struggle with organization, there are many resources available to help us arrange our work.

The significance of follow-through is not just about what we do but how we do it.

This article is brought to you by Associated Energy Systems.

Following through often produces powerful and transformative results. More specifically, we feel satisfied when we know that we did our part to accomplish a task, which leads to greater trust from those who rely on us. We also experience increased levels of self-respect and self-confidence. What’s more, we get more meaning out of life because we receive positive feedback about following through. And finally, we usually earn more business!

An indicator that we are not achieving in this area (and that there is a lack of follow-through) is when sales are not keeping pace with the leads generated. When we fail to follow through and actively market or sell to our leads, we essentially lose sales revenue. We need to implement good tracking mechanisms and maintain discipline to follow through on every conversation we have with customers to ensure they have all the information they need to make buying decisions. We only know this is true when we have their orders.

Following through after the sale is also important and makes great financial sense. Getting business from new customers is significantly more expensive than securing additional sales from current customers. The value of happy customers is not just that they may come back and purchase again, but that they also become evangelists for our businesses, telling their friends and family how wonderful their experiences have been. We should all have a plan on how we follow through with past customers to ensure their experiences were positive—that’s just smart business. 

Of course, something is better than nothing, and follow-through does not need to be an all-or-nothing process. Consistent and frequent follow-through is valuable, and even a slight improvement will yield positive results. Perhaps this week we can review how we follow through in different aspects of our business and personal life. Let’s outline how we follow through and maybe note how we can improve. That extra sale or hug from a loved one is right around the corner.

Let me know how you are doing and what you think of this month’s column. Thanks for reading—and have a prosperous month!

Phil Connor

Phil Connor

Phil is always working with his team at Ignition Labratory to find new ways to spread the fire. If you found Phil's column impactful, or if you'd like to have him speak at an upcoming event, contact him at

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