Focus on Results is a Leadership imperative. All too often today we are inundated with too many KPIs and priorities that the key things we must get right and done are lost. This is a call for leaders to focus on the results the organisation has to make progress towards, and then allow the people to figure out how to get there. The leaders role is to set the focus on results, then encourage, guide and coach people towards the result.
Focus on Action
Leaders often fall into the trap of specifying the what to do. The actions, the projects, the key activity that must happen. Which in many respects seems quite logical, you are the leader after all.
However when we focus too much on the action and doing we can lose sight of what the results were that we are trying to have an impact on. Therein is a problem. We perceive an outcome we want and then jump into action mode (don’t just stand there, DO something). A couple of things often happen here that actually get in our way of achieving the outcome.
- People go about implementing the specified project, action or activity without truly understanding the end point. And therefore through implementation the focus is on doing, rather than landing where we want to be. Making an impact on the outcome.
- When implemented, people come back to the leader and say, “done that, boss, now what..?” their focus in on doing what the leader asked for, rather than contributing to how the outcome can be achieved. No ownership or buy-in to the end goal. The leader has their hands, but not their mind or heart.
When leaders focus on results – the end outcome, the impact we want to have – they focus the attention of the people and the organisation on the end point, what we are aiming for, not what we are doing. These leaders focus people on the result we are aiming for, not how to get there. By placing the focus on results the leader gets the people to figure out how to get there.
A. Leader A specifies that their Net Promoter Score (NPS) is currently 5 and they must get it to 10. let’s assume here that the leader doesn’t tell people how to do it, but sets a challenging KPI – a performance measure (NPS), with a target (10). How would we solve this problem..? NPS is made up of the percentage of promoters minus the number of detractors. Therefore if we reduced the number of detractors then NPS would increase. Likewise if we increase the number of promoters NPS would increase. Given we are all really busy, what do we do. From what I have seen it is mainly reducing the number of detractors, which is an ‘okay’ tactic (short-term, not sustainable).
B. Leader B specifies that the result the business needs is: “All out customers are advocates of what we do”. The people are shocked – “how can we possibly get all our customers to be advocates..?” The leader responds with, “that’s what we need, so how close can we get to all our customers are advocates, not detractors, not passives but advocates of what we do..?” How do we solve this problem..? What will people focus on..? Firstly, most likely, they will stand there and think before they do something. Then start analysing the problem. What are the root causes that drive people to be detractors..? What do we do that creates promoters..? Through a process of trial and error they figure out how – through customer engagement (AKA: sales), service delivery, experience design (and other ways) – they figure out how to get closer to the result – all our customers are advocates of what we do.
The leaders role here: set the focus on results, then encourage, guide and coach people towards the result.
Steve Jobs and Henry Ford got this.
Steve Jobs is famous for setting the result of, a PC in every home at the time IBM was building mega-computers for large corporations. How many personal computing devices in your home (include your iPhone and iPad)..? He didn’t tell people how to do it, he set the challenging outcome and the people of the organisation figured it out.
In 1910 Henry Ford started a new era in conveyor-belt mass production. In 1911 Ford produced 34,500 cars, but Henry Ford knew they needed to produce even more per year and reduce the cost of the car itself so that it would be available to more customers. The results, ‘more cars produced from the plant’ and ‘reduced cost per car’. In 1914 he doubled the wages of 7,000 workers and reduced their work day from nine to eight hours a day. Then focused their efforts on incremental and minor improvements to the system to achieve the results. In 1910 the Model ‘T’ was $950, in 1927 it was $345 and Ford had sold 15 million cars (same model). By setting the focus on the results and engaging his entire workforce on making progressive improvement towards the results, a massive achievement was realised (anecdote drawn from The Rise of Big Business, C. Northcote Parkinson).
Focus on Results – Leadership
Does your leadership team focus on results..?
On a scale of 0 to 10 how would you rate that this statement describes your approach to goals and results..?
“At the strategy level – we have a small number of very clear goals/results to achieve.”
You can get access to the full Customer Centric Business Self-Assessment here.
You can learn more about this approach to results in these article. also appreciate this article:
There are Five Tenets to the Customer Centric approach to Business. Within these Tenets the Second Imperative for Leaders, is Focus on Results.
Read more about the Five Tenets and the rest of the Nine Imperatives for Leaders here.