In a 2009 study of 60,000 employees James Zenger found that:
Only 14% of leaders that were ‘results focused’ and 12% of leaders that were ‘social focused’ were seen as effective. A whopping 72% of leaders that balanced the two were seen as effective.
However, only 1% of leaders fit that description where they were seen as strong in both.
Can you be a part of that 1% that is strong in both?
Asking whether it is more important to be people focused or results focused seems like a trick question. The default answer would seem to be ‘both’ and, ultimately that is correct. To be a successful leader you will need to balance the social elements of people leadership with the results that come from them. People versus results is the chicken and egg question for business. One has to come first and both have to be in play.
Creating a culture where both people development and results are consistently good is the ultimate outcome. In the statistics above, the social skills were defined as leaders who communicated effectively and were able to express authentic empathy. When you combine all that goes into getting results and those two components of social skills, it is more evident why only 1% were seen as effective at both. We tend to value one of those behaviors over the other based on the culture we work in. One is more tangible than the others.
We have reports every day that show results. There is no shortage of meetings, conference calls and emails that address numeric outcomes. Thus, there is a tendency to place a heavier weight on those. We can see them and so can everyone else.
People development is much more subtle. And while I would argue that those outcomes can be equally apparent, they are more difficult to see from afar. If you are working with an individual on their development, you will see the impact that is being made. But someone in a different location will not be able to see those changes or improvements. They are inherently less tangible because of that. In this same sentiment, we would equate people improvement with results improvement. A leader may be communicating more productively with their team, engaging at a higher level, but unless the numeric results change, little is noticed about that improvement. This is extremely short-sighted.
Unhealthy cultures are ones in which metrics are the predominant means of measuring performance. – from Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
Creating a Culture
If we are to have a culture that values the development of people, then those actions must be recognized and celebrated as much as the tangible results. The expectation must be set that people development is important. Those goals need to be clearly defined, just as we would for a quarter’s sales or profit. How the team is doing cannot be a one or twice a year discussion. It has to be woven into the fabric of everyday conversation. At all levels, the discussion around people and how we are communicating, caring for, and learning from them has to take equal importance to the numbers. The availability of information or the ease at which we can find it should not determine its importance. We will always have plenty of data on metric results. It takes effort and personal contact to determine what people are contributing.
As a leader, there are things you can do to connect better with your team. Authentic curiosity can be a key driver in engaging with people at deeper levels. In time, you will refine and find your own rhythm in learning more about those you work closely with.
Here are a few suggestions that can become a starting point for getting to know your individual team members better.
- What have you learned in your role recently? What is the significance of that to you?
- How do you want to improve yourself? How can I help?
- What is important to you in your store?
- How are you making your team better? Where can I support you in that?
Great leaders sacrifice the numbers to save the people because when push comes to shove, numbers won’t save you, people will. – Simon Sinek
Balancing people and results will always be a challenge. As stated above, 99% of leaders fail to be successful at it. In today’s metric-driven world, it takes your full commitment to be a part of the 1% of leaders that can effectively manage the opposing forces of people versus results. In doing so, you will find new levels of loyalty, engagement, and consistent results that others can only wonder how you accomplish.
What can you do today to start your path to being a 1% Leader? Click here or on the comments button above to share your thoughts.