Understanding the Say-Do Gap

Understanding the Say-Do Gap


Today, we’re looking at ways to get better. One of the most important ways we get better is how we operate in our relationships. Have you had an experience where someone says something that they’re going to do and then they don’t do it? That it’s what I call the Say-Do Gap and it has a big impact on your ability to lead and your team’s ability to function.

So, the Say-Do gap is the gap between what you say in what you do. The greater that gap, the less the trust, the less the trust – if it’s an organization or a company or even your own family – the less the trust, the longer it takes to do anything. And the longer it takes to do something, the more costs you. 

Costs could be emotional, physical, or financial, but the costs can be wide and can be very deep.

Steven Covey in his book entitled The Speed of Trust says that everything operates at the speed of trust. I want to go with you for just a few minutes to look at the model that he lays out. He says that trust is based on two basic things: one is our competence and the other is our character or in his order it’s a character and competence. 

For character, he breaks it into two smaller pieces:

Integrity – that’s what we tend to think of when we think of trust. Do I trust this guy? Is he a liar or a cheater? Is he trustworthy? We usually look at the integrity part of that and it’s pretty clear to us what we mean by that and so
that’s where we usually stop when we say “Do I trust…?” “Why do I trust…?” or “I don’t trust…” or “He’s a good guy but there is something about him I don’t trust.”

A big piece of that, Covey would say, is the intent. So you maybe a good guy, you tell the truth, you never cheat, you never lie, you never steal, but you have a suspect motive. “I don’t trust him because I think he’s just using me” or “I think he’s trying to you know, do something so he’ll get all my money”, or “he is just trying to use me so he can move up the ladder.” It’s hard to identify but this paradigm gives us a filter to look at as the intent.

And by the way, all of these things are good for ourselves to look at for ourselves. What is my motive? What is my intent? 

So on the one side you see the character and the two pieces are the intent and the integrity. Now, you can
have good intent and you can have integrity, but you could still find that you don’t trust somebody. For example, in
his case he talks about that second piece being competence.

Competence – in competence there’s two pieces: one is a capability. I would trust perhaps my 16 year old neighbor girl with taking care of my kids as a babysitter because she’s capable, but if I asked her to do brain surgery it probably isn’t gonna happen. I don’t trust her to do that level of task. No one would say you don’t trust her. Why? Not because she doesn’t have integrity integrity or bad motives. No, she’s not capable.

So in our organization or in a family, it may be the father says to the son I don’t trust you with the car not because you’re a bad person or because you’re intent is wrong, but you don’t know how to drive and so therefore you’re not capable. So competence affects your trust.

The second piece of competence is results you may have. You may have great intent, you may have great integrity, and you may be totally capable, but if you don’t bring the results that you need to you say you can, that affects trust. For example, I could tell my wife I’m going to be home at 10 minutes after 7:00. But I don’t get home at 10 minutes after 7:00. So after a while, she says “I don’t trust you”. Well she you doesn’t trust is that I will actually do what I say.

It doesn’t matter that I’m a good person, do I mean well, am I capable, am I of capable getting home seven to ten, or ten after seven? Obviously I’m not capable, I can’t even say it, but you see by having this filter it helps us understand our own trust, how do we trust ourselves, and when we either trust or don’t trust someone else.

This is imperative that as we run an organization, as we run our life or a family, that we understand the speed of trust. And if you do that then you will have a better chance of operating at less cost and less time and more integrity.

I’d encourage you this week to take a look at these ask yourself what is your intent? What is my motive for doing this? Ask yourself is that consistent with the values that I’m operating internally? Am I looking at someone in carrying them along when they’re not capable so I don’t trust them but I don’t help them become more capable or am I untrustworthy because I’m not capable.

And then finally, look at it for yourself. Am I really doing what I said? Am I perpetuating the Say-Do Gap or am I closing the gap?

Think about it. Try it.