Good leadership is about getting desired results.
Leaders must understand to focus on desired results.
Many times the effective leader is not the one who contains all the skills you read about in books, or the skills that are most focused on in training and development programs.
Often the best leaders are the ones who get the job done, drive the team and the company towards the end line, and achieve the objectives laid out by the board of directors, the employees, and/or the clients.
The following should help create a set of tools or tests to make sure that company attributes and branding can translate into results.
1. Results must be balanced.
To what extent does the leaders results balance across employees, organization, customers, and investors?
Example: When productivity started to drop at its U.S.-based manufacturing plants, Proctor and Gamble first started experimenting with workplace aesthetics by focusing entirely on creating a relaxing work environment, shorter shifts, and employee-centered work settings.
The Result: At first, there was an increase in productivity as compared to the manufacturing plants where no changes were made. But over time, the company found that the employees had become too self-actualizing and too lethargic, and productivity dropped below the original baselines. Proctor and Gamble realized that some changes needed to occur, but that only focusing on the workers (and not the leadership, investors, or clients) made for a poor strategy.
2. Results must be strategic.
To what extent does the leaders results align with company strategy? There are two things to consider here:
1. Business focus, or what is your business really about? (i.e. product, customer, technology, or image)
Example: When you think of Nike, you think of baseball or basketball or running shoes, right? Well, Nike actually focuses on getting elite athletes to wear its products so the image of excellence with a Nike Swoosh attached to it is their primary concern — NOT just the image of a running shoe. I.e., when you wear Nike golf shoes, you will swing a club like Tiger Woods!
2. Customer Value Proposition, or what do your customers buy from you rather than from your competition? (i.e. low cost, quality, speed, service, or innovation)
Example: Hewlett-Packard offers innovation above all else. In other words, the company is willing to cannibalize its own products today if something with more features and benefits to the consumer is going to come out tomorrow. From HP’s perspective, you always know you are buying the latest and greatest if you buy HP.
3. Results must be lasting.
To what extent will my results endure over time?
Example: What sort of images come to mind when you think of the Exxon Valdez oil spill? Immediately after that spill, the Board of Directors issued a blame statement as to who caused the spill (remember Captain Hazelwood?) Meanwhile, 10 million barrels of oil spilled out into Prince William Sound while media from around the world rolled the cameras.
The Result Most people remember the tragedy of the oil spill rather than the massive clean-up efforts and expenses that Exxon incurred as a result of not doing the right thing first.
Example 2: Contrast the above with the Tylenol scare in the 1980s. Immediately following highly publicized incidents of people being severely injured or killed due to cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules, Johnson and Johnson pulled every unit of the product from the shelf nationwide and assured the public that it was going to make the drug tamper-proof.
The Result Most people remember the invention of tamper-proof bottles, and the stock value of J&J actually went up immediately following the release of this new innovation.
4. Results must be selfless.
To what extent are my results selfless, making the whole greater than the parts?
Example: When a new regional manager for Jensen Electronics found out that two store managers were cheating in a company-wide sales competition by forgetting to report returned items (which would decrease the overall sales numbers for the competition), he risked being labeled as “the tattle-tale new guy.” Instead, he forged ahead and sent out a memo saying he would do whatever it took to terminate these two individuals, as a way to show that he believed in integrity more than he believed in winning the competition.
The Result The two managers were ashamed of their actions and quit. The “tattle-tale” leaders region posted record sales not only for the competition, but for years to come, as a result of employees’ inspiration from their new leader.
It is important to remember that results-driven leadership is critical. Hiring, training, and developing your companys leaders based on the results they can achieve in addition to the qualities they bring to the table is a better combination than simply focusing on the standard good leadership attributes that a supervisor or leader may bring to the company.