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Leadership is about People, not Results

Too Focused On Results

Business is a competitive space.  And too often we have the wrong scorecard to measure how we are doing in the competition.  We all tend to look only at the wins & loss columns and forget to look at the human factor of business.  

Most of business is really about relationships, especially in small business.  But in larger companies and larger organizations, sometimes that concept gets lost.  Too often people and relationships take a back seat to sales, data (KPIs) and spreadsheets.  But the key to business success no matter the size still boils down to relationships: hiring the right people, nurturing, developing and training employees, managing expectations & perceptions of both customers and employees and understanding others (customers, employees, shareholders and leaders).

The Real Job of Leaders

Leaders and executives should be judged on the calibre and quality of their people, not solely on the business’ or department’s results.  A leader’s true job is not to produce results but to cultivate people. Similar to assessing a teacher, we look at the test grades of the students as a first level evaluation. Leaders should be judged on their leadership abilities to develop and grow their team, as a first level evaluation.  

According to Simon Sinek, “The real job of a leader is not about being in charge, it’s about taking care of those in our charge.”  I would add the primary job of a leader is to take care of and grow those in his/her charge. Not everyone is a leader and not everyone wants to lead. Not all managers or employees want to lead, but those who do, can absolutely learn the skills, behaviors and leadership practices to develop, nurture and grow the individuals on the team. 

Executive Coaching is one way to help develop leadership skills and competencies.  The following video from Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why offers a brilliant take on why many “Leaders are so often so concerned about their status or their position in the organization that they actually forget their real job.”  

How well do you understand the actual game you are in as a leader?

Most Leaders Don’t Even Know the Game They’re In | Simon Sinek

Truth is Good Leadership is about Balancing Both – Results and People

OK, so the truth is leadership (as far as employees are concerned) is about balancing both, according to a 2009 survey. James Zenger surveyed over 60,000 employees to see which leadership characteristics made leaders “great” in the eyes of their employees. Two of the characteristics that Zenger looked at were “results-focus” and “people-focus,” and he found that neither characteristic consistently produced great leadership.

Leaders whose primary focus was results were seen as great just 14% of the time, and leaders who primarily focused on people were seen as great only 12% of the time.

However, leaders who were able to balance their approach and focus equally on results and people (which, according to a study by David Rock, is less than 1% of all leaders) were seen as great a whopping 72% of the time. In other words, results-focus and people-focus are weak predictors of great leadership on their own. It’s the potent combination of the two that consistently makes leaders great.  Effective leaders were able to focus on driving the organization’s most important results; while at the same time, build trust, increase their influence, and motivate others.

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