Ask a leader what they do in a day and they will give you a list, ask what they are trying to deliver and their lack of clarity becomes evident
Have you ever noticed that some people can be really busy but achieve very little? In fact, some days I am one of them! It is easy to be busy, to fill our days with activity and when the day comes to end still feel like we got very little done.
There are a host of reasons for this which we can discuss at a later time. It’s my belief that it stems primarily from a lack of articulated intention, or clarity, about what the result is we want to achieve. It sounds simple enough, but after being inside companies across a variety of sectors and industries, I am continually surprised by how many managers and leaders, even at senior levels, cannot clearly articulate the result of the company, their departments and individual roles. Lofty mission statements and a list of all the things we do are prevalent and roll easily off our tongues but ask what the result is, the why do you do all the things you do, and the tongues become quickly tied.
For me, that means our activities aren’t aligned with what it is we want to create; our result. Think for a moment about one of the last meetings you attended. Was it clear why you were meeting and what the result was you were trying to achieve? Did you leave with a clear decision or direction, knowing who was responsible for which piece, how you will know you are successful and what the key moving pieces are in order for it to be achieved? Often we leave meetings not knowing, unclear and often even misaligned as to what was or wasn’t decided and communicated. The same holds true in our organizations and our own leadership.
From top to bottom, the results need to be clearly defined and include specific pieces that identify what is important. For example, in working recently with a boutique hotel team, when I asked what was important in their result as a group I got a laundry list of all that they do – their processes, daily tasks, and in fact, for most of us we take pride in how long a list we can create! After some time, we distilled their result to the following:
Inspire the organization by how well we identify, anticipate and exceed the expectations of our diverse guests while ensuring a clean, well maintained room with their expected amenities all the while managing our cost per occupied room and always having rooms available for our VIP guests.
Creating a result statement requires clarity. What is it you need to be delivering that would amaze your shareholders? Ownership or leadership? Ask yourself, if I delivered this result, would that excite them and align with what the organization is trying to create?
We can easily come to believe that our individual or department result is the company result – it is not. The only way the organization achieves its’ result is when every other area of the company is clear about its own and delivers. The IT department’s result isn’t to “create sustainable, green energy products for the residential housing market” which might be close the mission of a company– but instead to deliver seamless IT support, services and solutions with minimum downtime that meets the timely needs of the business…etc.
When we are clear about our result, what we need to do, the activity of the day also becomes clear.
Are you focused on results or just busy?
Jeff is the founder of Magnanimous People Strategies, a firm dedicated to bridging Purpose and People with Productivity and Profit to create competent and caring driven organizations in both the for profit and not for profit sectors.