“The follow-up factor correlates with improved leadership effectiveness among both U.S. and non-U.S. executives.”
– Marshall Goldsmith and Howard Morgan

Do you consistently follow-up? As a leader this could entail many things. You could follow-up on project tasks, goal achievement, new hires, promoted individuals and delegated assignments.

You can also follow-up with business partners, vendors, and acquaintances from networking groups. And, follow up includes process improvement ideas, cost saving opportunities, and progress against development planning.

In a leadership study of eight major corporations, Marshall Goldsmith and Howard Morgan found that the top rated item by employees for leadership effectiveness was “the ongoing interaction and follow-up with colleagues. Leaders who discussed their own improvement priorities with their co-workers, and then regularly followed up” were also rated highly effective.

All eight companies had the common goal to determine the desired behaviors to ensure leadership effectiveness, and arrived at the same conclusion: leadership interaction and follow-up were essential for success. http://www.marshallgoldsmithlibrary.com/docs/articles/LeaderContactSport.pdf

Another perspective for follow-up is from a marketing and sales approach. How often do you meet someone new, exchange business cards, share business ideas and potential opportunities and then can’t recall their name or link the name to that “new opportunity”?

Keith Ferrazzi recommends following up within twelve to twenty-four hours after you meet someone new. If you meet somebody on a plane, send them an e-mail later that day. If you meet somebody over cocktails, send them an e-mail the next morning. He also provides the following tips for flawless follow-up:

  • Put the name and e-mail address of a new acquaintance in your database and program your calendar to remind you in a month’s time to drop the person another e-mail, just to keep in touch. Remember—and this is critical—your follow up shouldn’t remind them of what they can do for you. It’s about what you might be able to do for them. It’s about giving them a reason to want to follow up.
  • Always express your gratitude.
  • Be sure to include an item of interest from your meeting or conversation—a joke or a shared moment of humor.
  • Reaffirm whatever commitments you both made—going both ways.
  • Be brief and to the point.
  • Always address the thank-you note to the person by name.
  • Use e-mail and snail mail. The combination adds a personalized touch.
  • Timeliness is key. Send them as soon as possible after the meeting or interview. Many people wait until the holidays to say thank you or reach out. Why wait? Your follow-ups will be timelier, more appropriate, and certainly better remembered.
  • Don’t forget to follow up with those who have acted as the go between for you and someone else. Let the original referrer know how the conversation went, and express your appreciation for their help.
  • “Make follow-up a habit. Make it automatic. When you do, the days of struggling to remember people’s names—and of other people struggling to remember yours—will be a thing of the past”.  How effective are you with following up with your colleagues? With new acquaintances? Rate yourself now and make changes today!