Years ago I worked for Jose, a client who received more results from his co-workers than most professionals I have worked with. Jose demonstrated a habit day after day, like a clockwork. This habit helped his team (and him) get one critical outcome at work that leaders like us strive for – progress.
I didn’t know the name of this habit then.
Recently, I read a reporter’s tribute to Paul Ingrassia who served as an executive at Dow Jones. “Paul was one of the rare leaders who cared as much about the success of others as he did about his own,” writes the reporter John D. Stoll. How did Paul do it?
Towards the end of meetings, after the task assignments were complete, Paul would ask his coworkers, “are we going to announce this on Tuesday or Thursday?”
The tribute to Paul Ingrassia reminded me of Jose. Ingrassia’s coworkers remember him for the same habit as I remember Jose for.
The habit Jose displayed with grace in multiple settings is – the presumptive close. I still remember him asking us during a meeting, “we have a customer forum next month. Your deliverable is needed for us to shine in the forum. Can you have the first draft in my inbox, say, Wednesday?” A coworker can propose a different day, but now there is a date on her mind. The anchor date is set now – it is Wednesday.
Next time you are collaborating with different stakeholders, try the presumptive close. It moves people towards a goal; sometimes that’s the most important task of a leader in charge of execution.