The Answer is Who
Short-sighted leaders are consumed with results.
Real leaders are consumed with people.
The answer is who.
- Solve problems.
- Prevent failure.
- Create systems.
- Measure results.
Traditional leadership is essential. But, never treat people like tools or lose yourself to results.
All the problems you want to solve and results you want to achieve are connected to people.
- Why are you focused on problems rather than people?
- Why aren’t you more worried about people than failure?
- Why are you spending so much time disconnected from people who do the work?
Real leaders know great people produce great results.
Results don’t magically appear.
Real leaders know it’s who before how. Real leaders:
- Attract great people.
- Build cross-functional relationships.
- Maximize strengths. Developing people by maximizing their strengths, not fixing them. Deal with weaknesses that limit strengths. Mitigate the rest. Wise leaders know that talented people are great at one or two things and average or less at the rest.
- Connect people with others.
- Fuel passion.
- How are people goals integrated into your daily activities?
- How much of your time should be dedicated to developing yourself and others?
- What can you do today to focus and energize people?
- When can you walk around and meet people, today?
Wise leaders integrate the human component into achieving results. Ask “who” questions:
- Who do we want to be?
- How do we want to treat each other?
- What type of person achieves the results we need to achieve?
- What behaviors best reflect the type of people we aspire to be?
- Who do you aspire to be while fulfilling our mission? How can I help you be that person?
How might leaders elevate the “who” part of their role?
What people-building behaviors can you embrace today?
While Who is certainly First Base, remember that, What’s on second.”
Asking “what can be done differently” is such a powerful tool for any leader. Innovation and involvement are critical factors in generating intrinsic motivation and alignment and all that other stuff.
Another great post to get us thinking, Dan. Thanks.
Thanks Dr. Scott. A who without a what doesn’t get very far. Good call.
Asking questions rather than giving directions produces an entirely different environment in the work space. That environment is trusting, it’s cooperative, it promotes innovation and creativity. It fuels expectations everyone has for the organization and it enables all to know their contributions are appreciated. Finally, probably most important for me, it encourages dialogue that addresses problems or concerns from all points of view rather than blindly following the directions from above.
Great post worthy of deep consideration and reflection.
Thanks John. Questions are great people/relationship building tools. The assumption is we are listening and staying open. But, you see people light up when they believe leaders are interested in what they have to say.
Good morning Dan;
Two statements jump out at me right away Dan as they reinforce the ‘essence of Charactor-Based Leadership’; (“Real Leaders know GREAT People produce GREAT Results.” & “Real Leaders know it’s ‘WHO’ before how.”)
With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why the ‘Old-Guard’ Autocratic stlye of leadership never has, and never will, produce the positive efforts and results of of the Democractic stlye exhibited through Character-Based Leadership.
Leaders who take the time to build relationtionships with thier people position themselves to inspire greater effort from those people and concequently, ‘Greater Results’.
“The more you invest in your people, the greater your dividend’s.”
Cheers Dan, Have a great weekend my friend!
Amen. I’m so tired of seeing leader after leader closed up in an office, never getting out to talk with people and really understanding who their employees are, what drives them or what their true talents and skills are. Some leaders are simply unskilled or unknowledgeable in this area while other’s don’t care or let their own ego or insecurity get in the way. I think the very worst excused I’ve heard (by multiple leaders) is, “I’m introverted.” Hello, you’re a freakin’ Director/VP, get over it!
Dan, any past or potential future topics the introverted leader?
this is a good point, and many who rise to management via the technical path have difficulty here – it takes alot of mental energy for technically oriented leaders to reach out. I’d love to see a followup column on that.
I know the feeling about the introvered leaders-passion killers, thats what they are! All meetings behind closed doors, poor communication-in the end you get tired and start looking for a new job…sad though
A very interesting post with real good substance!
Human aspect is neglected by many leaders at growing organizations on their quest for quick results. We have seen many organizations failing on this account and loosing good potential talents. Even, this is the key element of focus for good retention & engagement.
A good leader will always encourage and appreciate the qualitative efforts of some of his trusted potential people. He shall also provide the necessary support and guidance to enable his staff to accomplish things on merits keeping the long-term gains in mind.
A human aspect can’t be underrated and people need to be nurtured well to grow within once you have hired the right talents to suit the organization needs of present & future.
The key thing here is that many people in “leadership positions” aren’t there to lead. They are there to answer to bean-counters. They are answerable, inter alia, to those who don’t *care* about people, except in an “asset” sense. I have sat in meetings with people like this who have said not “our staff are our greatest asset and we must develop them” but rather:
“Staff are our greatest cost, and we have to determine how to force this downwards”.
There is a whole school of management for whom “who” is irrelevant. Like Carl Weathers’ character said in Predator “You are assets, expedable assets, and I used you to get the job done”.
People should indeed be considered as the great resources in an organization. They are very important and need to treated with respect and not just like other tools. They have feelings and are the ones that get other resources working towards the business’ goal.
I also agree with the of leaders empowering people that are under their management. Getting them involved in discussions and giving opinions of implementing strategies. Leaders that encourage innovations coming from their followers are likely to master in their industries. Real leaders must really get this message, and of course follow the Leadership Freak.
Exactly right! To put it a different way, focusing on results forces people to work harder with their current talent which produces exhausted employees and a less quality outcome. Right first time doesn’t exist in this cycle.
Focusing on the development of your team produces quality results more efficiently and will most likely surprise you with their growing talents.
We don’t push people, we show them the way to become better than us. By doing so, you create leaders who know how to develop in a never ending continuous improvement cycle.
Former US Marine Drill Instructor
I agree that people matters the most in the business. Leaders know that people make or break the business. Right people are crucial to build business. And it is even more important to set process to attract right people. To do this, recruitment and selection process should follow criteria and lower the dependency of subjective parameters. So, it is also important to build process in the system. When right process is there, it will attract right people and hence it will enhance performance.
I think, People building behavior is encouraging, mentoring and rewarding. People often feel that they should be listened up. So, leaders should listen to them with empathy. This will precisely make the place better place to work.
Excellent post, thank you! You reinforce that relationships come first. In education, we talk about teachers building relationships with students by getting to know them as human beings – their interests, backgrounds, aspirations, skills, etc., and demonstrating that they care about them. That is the foundation for building trust and helping students to feel safe, secure, respected, and valued. All of which nurtures an environment for engaging student work where teachers and students work collaboratively to learn and grow. I often say that there are many, many practices we espouse for working with students that apply to working with people of all ages. We know what makes learning meaningful in the classroom. Those same characteristics make work meaningful for adults.