The Saying-Doing Gap – How Large is the Gap in Your Organization?


Leadership BSThe problem with leadership is at its core a story of disconnections: the disconnect between what leaders say and what they do.
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time

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We all know about the knowing-doing gap. It is a simple concept, and so very true. We know the things to do, in our own lives, in our work life, in our organizational life. We know the things to do, but we do not do them all, nor do we do them well enough.

This is commonly called the knowing-doing gap.

Maybe there is a second gap: the saying-doing gap.

It’s this: “this is what I say; this is what I actually do.”

Again, from Jeffrey Pfeffer’s book:

About forty years ago, Henry Mintzberg, a business school professor at McGill University, published a book based on his observations of what managers actually do.

Here’s the key line: “observations of what managers actually do.” This is the only thing that reveals the truth: it is what people actually do, not what they say they do.

Let’s imagine that every leader, every manager or supervisor, wore body cameras, capturing every second of every day. You know:

“This life, these workdays, may be monitored for quality purposes.”

I think we would all be just a little apprehensive as we discover all that we actually do, and, equally, all that we are not doing that we should be doing.

But, this much is clear – there would probably be some gap between what we say we do, and what we actually do.

The saying-doing gap. So now we have another gap to close in the modern workplace!

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