One of the more successful strategies I have seen managers take in their organizations has been shifting their focus from managing the process to leading to outcomes. In the age of employee empowerment, one of the best ways to allow your team to feel like they have a say in the work is to allow them some flexibility in the process and approach. As long as they deliver the desired outcome, they should be able to define the path.
The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it. Theodore Roosevelt
I would suggest that the act of simply managing for outcomes isn’t enough in the current corporate environment. Setting goals and offering flexibility in the approach by Leading to Outcomes is a far more effective approach. If you retain the concept of managing in the approach, you won’t achieve the full potential of the organization.
Leading to Outcomes
I call the approach leading rather than managing to outcomes because of the inclusion of human leadership in the approach. I talk about the need to foster diversity in your teams in other posts, but the short version is that your team shouldn’t be made up of entirely similar people who will work together and follow the same approach to get to the outcome you have requested. As a result, they won’t all be motivated to deliver results in the same way.
Human Leadership is the differentiator that makes an outcome based approach powerful. I define human leadership by the following characteristics:
- Genuine curiosity and caring about the individuals on the team including their personal interests and pursuits, family, priorities, hobbies, etc.
- Willingness to adapt expectations and approach to meet the needs of every single individual contributor on the team.
- Ability to align goals and success criteria as well as rewards to what is relevant to the individual team members. What works for one person may not be motivating to another.
- Ongoing dialogue focused not on the work or the outcome but on how aligned each individual feels to achieving those goals and objectives.
Managing vs. Leadership
The word ‘managing‘ connotes processes, reports, KPIs, measurements, and business results. All of those are critical in today’s business environment and can’t be forgotten or left behind, but the art of managing is only the entry point to success.
Leadership, on the other hand, is the ability to manage plus engage employees. Leaders build trust, excite employees, align people to the vision, connect to personal priorities, and build a strong culture and team of people who will go above and beyond for their teammates and the organization.
Managers can sometimes create short-term results, but leaders deliver a long-term competitive advantage. Looking beyond the processes and metrics and engaging your team builds long-term success.
Results of Leading to Outcomes
Leadership often delivers better results in the short term than management. Also, over the long term you will also see improvements in:
People will see a strong culture and individual focus and want to join your team. If there is a choice between a human focused leader with a strong team culture and a manager with good results, people will typically choose the leader.
As your team becomes more engaged and aligned with the goals of the organization, they will be more interested in finding new and better ways to achieve the vision. Creativity comes from engagement.
- Brand and Customer Image
Simon Sinek says it best: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” If you have a strong culture and a team who believes in the vision and the human values that drive that vision, it will show through to your customers and create lasting brand value.
Create Lasting Competitive Advantage
Managing for outcomes will improve your performance in a competitive market in the short term.
Leading to outcomes will create a lasting competitive advantage for your organization.
Tim Empringham, MBA
Tim Empringham is a passionate advocate for Innovation in organizations of all sizes as a mechanism to drive growth, create uncontested market space, create new customer value, and drive efficiency into the internal organization. His focus is on disruption of thinking and markets through integrative thinking, structured Innovation frameworks, and leadership development of Innovation and Change leaders within the organization.