“Do what You Say and Say what You Do” by Aubrey Rebello

In my 4 years of Coaching practice I have found ‘Time management' improvement as a common goal across several clients.

Most CEOs and Business Leaders work long hours; they are still not able to complete all what they had planned to do and this typically leads to frustration, health issues and disturbed family ties.

Prioritising and planning are obvious areas the Client needs to work on and this can give good results.

In India where I do most of my Coaching I have found that practicing one simple work ethic can bring positive results. I call this,

“Do what You Say and Say what You Do"


Sounds very simple but what is the reality? 

  • When someone is late for a meeting you get a call “I will be there in 2 minutes.” How precise? In reality it could mean anything from 10, 15 minutes to even 30 minutes.
  • ‘A Task will be completed in 10 days’  is rarely completed by the due date. When delayed, there is rarely given a delay indication with reasons AND a new completion date.
  • Sometimes ‘Task Completed’ may not mean full completion. For example,  only 5 out of 7 items in the task are fully complete. Rarely will someone say only 5 out of 7 items completed with the remaining balance of 2 will be completed in 3 days.

In India (and some other Cultures ) our habit for most of these times is to “Do not Do what we Say and we do not Say (precisely) what we do.

With that sort of work ethic, to get anything done thus requires lots of follow-up, we can never be sure of committed dates and the start of dependant subsequent activities!

End result is non value added follow-up work, delays, longer reviews and meetings, and lots of phone calls, mails and clutter.


Imagine how it will be if everyone in a team follows “Do what You Say and Say what You Do"

This work ethic will require that commitments are given after all aspects and dependencies of task completion are factored, and every effort is made to meet committed dates. Start with simple things like being on time for a meeting.

If committed dates cannot be met it should be conveyed  before the due date with reasons and a new date given. Gradually with better analysis of all factors that’s impacting the outcome slippage from committed dates should reduce. Any slippage, then, can only be due to dependencies on which you have no control or cannot be factored in accurately. 

Few Benefits that will happen with this work ethic are:

  • Follow-up (non value added) activity will come  to zero
  • Future tasks based on completion of previous task can be planned and scheduled better and projects completed earlier
  • Meetings and reviews will be shorter and crisper.
  • Increase in Productivity and Customer (internal & external) Satisfaction

Embedding “Do what You Say and Say what You Do" with my clients

Most of my Clients have been able to achieve improvements in excess of 50% in Customer Satisfaction, Productivity and Response Time by ensuring that they and their teams adhere to this work ethic.

This Work Ethic does not require anyone to work beyond his or her level of capability and improves a team or a group’s dynamic because it only requires commitment to completion dates, timeliness and preciseness in communication.  It can therefore be practiced by everybody: by the Expert, by the non Expert, by the “A” Graded Team members as well as the” C” graded Team members.

Old habbits die hard, and a Team Leader should explain the work ethic to his Team and regularly review whether the new work ethic is followed or not. The approach has to be top down with Leaders applying the work ethic first for everyone else to follow.

Sometimes there is intense pressure from Customers or from the “Boss” to commit delivery in a short time span. As a way out of the pressure situation some people commit to a time which they are unsure about. This should be avoided. It is better to bear the unpleasantness now and meet your committed dates. While Customers are not always expected to listen, Management should listen and give in where the explanationfor more time is reasonable. After all just like no baby can be delivered before 9 months some tasks may require more time than demanded .

Several  Managing Directors whom I coached have made placards and pasted them on each work desk so that their Team members keep in mind and practice this work ethic everyday.

With regular persuasion it will take 3 to 6 months for the Work Ethic to be part of a Team’s DNA .

I believe that this is one of the ‘Lowest Hanging Fruit’ for improving Personal Effectiveness that’s worthwhile leveraging.

Besides productivity, response time and customer satisfaction improvements, the biggest takeaway would be ‘dependability’. Everything that’s committed is delivered and occasional delays are communicated well in time. For any organisation particularly in Indian culture this would be a breakthrough step.

It would be interesting to know how Coaches in similar situations or other  work cultures might be doing this.

To connect with Aubrey Rebello:

Aubrey brings to the table over 40 years of rich & varied Corporate Experience as CEO, Director, and Business Head with Tatas & Bayer.

Aubrey has strategised & managed a major merger, was CEO of a large NBFC, & Profit Centre Head of a large Business. In all his assignments he has rapidly scaled up revenues & profits. In many areas he has also built up Structures & Processes from scratch.

Post retirement Aubrey continues as an Advisor to a Tata Company.   Aubrey is also an Executive Coach to several Indian & Foreign Corporates He is also an expert in Family managed Businesses serving as a Business Consultant & Mentor to Business Families. Having had Leadership Roles in different work Areas & Industries   Aubrey’s expertise is in Financial Services , Automobile Industry, Mergers & Integration , Materials Management , & Learning & Development .

Aubrey is an Engineer from IIT Bombay & a First Rank Gold Medallist MBA from IIM Ahmedabad. He is also a Certified Executive Coach - International Coach Federation & NEWS Switzerland. He has several hundred hours of coaching experience at the MD & CXO levels.