Monday, February 16, 2009

Got Results?

I’ve had some interesting feedback and discussion on my earlier blog postings. In particular, I got questions about the change in my own thought process between “History and Background Part II” and “A Whole New Perspective”. The questions seemed to center around two themes:

1. Am I suggesting that results are not important?
2. Did I get less results after I began focusing more on the team?

These are fascinating questions and I want to take a few minutes to clarify my thoughts around results.

Results are absolutely critical to your success. The battlefield of business is littered with the bodies of “nice guy” managers who couldn’t get results. Of course that same battlefield is also littered with the bodies of task-oriented managers who got short-term but not long term results.

Ultimately we are all measured by our ability to get results. But as we progress up the leadership ladder the measurements change. First line managers are judged by how well they know the details of what their team does and, of course, the results that team gets. But at higher levels, the question is much more about “how smart is your team” versus “how smart are you”. This is a paradigm shift that many executives fail to make. Because they were the smartest person in the room when they were at lower levels, they believe that they should be the smartest person in the room at higher levels as well.

The truth is, when you are at lower levels of management you need to be the smartest person in the room on many of the technical aspects of the job. That is how you get results: by digging in, understanding the details, and challenging your team. But there is a shift to be made when you become an executive. That shift involves WHAT you need to be smart at.

At higher levels you no longer have to be as smart about the technical issues that go on at lower levels. Now you need to be smart at things like:

- Team Dynamics
- Hiring Talented People
- Giving Clear Direction
- Soliciting Input
- Building Relationships
- Motivation

These are the things that make for a successful executive. Unfortunately they are NOT the type of things for which we are ever provided training. Too many executives (myself included) continue to do what they do best. And that means trying to be the smartest person in the room and getting detailed results.

As executives we must make a non-intuitive shift in how we measure our success. Failure to do so means that we will continue to measure ourselves by our technical knowledge and abilities while others measure us by our leadership skills.

One common cause of the Workplace Energy Crisis is a leader who doesn’t fully appreciate the fact that the measuring stick has changed. By insisting that they will continue to be the smartest technician in the room, they reduce the value of the team and fail to create the energy that every leader should create.

Back to the original questions:

1. Am I suggesting that results are not important?
Of course not. But the types of results that you need to focus on are vastly different. If you continue to focus on technical results you will severely limit your career.

2. Did I get less results after I began focusing more on the team?
Once I understood ALL of the things that would make me a successful executive, I actually got better results. But I had to get used to the fact that it was ok not to be the smartest technical person in the room.

Until next time…..

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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