6 Underrated Quotes that Helped My Teams and Me Overachieve

If I were you, I’d follow them.

Frank LaFasto note and signature

As different as we all are, some things stick in our minds in the same way. Heck, there are a hundred, yet, these 6 quotes have stuck with me and guided me to succeed professionally and personally.

  1. “It is the responsibility of leaders to act swiftly, decisively, and with force when circumstances require it, or when moral lines must be drawn.” The Economist, June 19, 1993, pg. 16

Shared by a self-proclaimed “radical” consultant in the early '90s from rural Tennessee who was brought in to teach us how to change our business model and increase our management capabilities.

This profound quote directs the leader to demonstrate the conviction, risk orientation, and willingness to take action to preserve the purpose, vision, and values that an organization has chosen. Even if it puts the person at risk. Jerry and his colleagues were outstanding IMO.

2. “Clarity drives Confidence; Confidence drives Commitment. When Teams Work Best by Frank LaFasto & Carl Larson, 2001

Over 15 years the authors collected and analyzed responses from more than 6,000 team members to find out what factors help or hinder the achievement of their goals.

“WTWB” simply nailed the importance of the psychological atmosphere that emerges from the way a business conducts itself. It will encourage or dissipate effort. We have all likely been in an organization that is one or the other.

Fully understanding the direction of the business, a clear understanding of each person’s goals, and having clear lines of authority and accountability raises the commitment level at every level of management.

3. Change Equation = (D x V > R) “Dissatisfaction times Vision of the Future is greater than Resistance to Change”, Beckhard-Harris 1960's

Simplifying change into an equation that can be easily understood was brilliant. Something as hard as CHANGE thus becomes logical(and somewhat easier) to your team.

Change is inevitable when taking over the leadership of a business. The dissatisfaction level of your team (with its performance, dysfunctionality, interpersonal relationships, etc.) must be high or the leader must purposely increase it before healthy change can be executed.

It is catastrophic to underestimate the resistance to change. Leadership must systematically raise dissatisfaction while reducing resistance in order to move towards a clearly defined vision of the future. And then Bam!, things change for the better…fast.

4. Speech is conveniently located midway between thought and action, where it often substitutes for both”. John Andrew Holmes

As my European colleagues(wicked smart btw) would say, stop with the “blah blah” and let’s get going: planning, identifying resources we need, start to execute, track metrics and hold your team accountable. “Blah Blah” burns time, drains energy, and is a stall tactic for those who don’t know what they’re doing. AND it is frustrating!

5. “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” George S. Patton, General, U.S. Army

I love the simplicity of this quote with a “heavy lean in” on taking action. This is not to say don’t consider a broad set of alternatives. My experiences have proven to me that as long as you are prepared to appropriately course correct when results are not following the actions taken, taking action sooner than later is the best course.

6. When the great leader’s work is done, the people say “we did it ourselves”. The Unnatural Act of Management, 1989, by Everett T. Suters

This quote made a big impact on my leadership style. Leaders after empowering their team must fade into the shadows when the business starts to perform because their teams own it, are doing all the heavy lifting….and they deserve the credit.

Well, there you go. My guess is you have your own top quotes that have impacted your success? A valuable exercise to document and share on Medium.com

Thanks to Tim Denning for the jump start!




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Mike Orscheln

Mike Orscheln

Mike Orscheln’s passion is helping develop leaders to follow their purpose and create positive, high-performing cultures in whatever walk of life they choose.