Leadership Nudge™ 170 – Stop Telling People What to Do

September 13, 2017by Sandy Wilmer

Stop telling people what to do.

We tell people what to do so often, that we don’t even recognize when we’re doing it.

So, here’s a good activity:

Here in the men’s room we have a sign that says: “Please do not flush paper towels”.


Someone probably flushed paper towels down the toilet and it clogged the toilet, disabling it and it resulted in maintenance costs. So, we tell them “Don’t flush paper towels.”

A better approach:

Let’s be explicit about the impact of flushing paper towels: “Flushing paper towels results in putting the toilet out of commission and higher maintenance costs.”

Stop telling people what to do.

An activity for you is to go around your workplace and look for all kinds of signs like this, (where we’re telling people what to do). Take them down and replace them with signs that describe the impact of the activity and trust them as adults to do the right thing.

Sandy Wilmer

Copyright by Intent-Based Leadership International. All rights reserved.