10 Steps to Becoming a Results-Based Leader

American DemocracyThese 10 strategies are adapted from Results-Based Leadership(Harvard Business School Press, Boston, www.hbsp.harvard.edu). Honestly, I’ve read more than my share of books on leadership, but this book crystallizes the characteristics of a leader who is driven by results. I believe that all people who lead others in any way or in any organization should read this book. I’ll take it one step further: if you want to lead yourself, you can adopt many of these strategies in your own personal quest for personal development. Sounds radical, I know, but I deeply believe the ideas presented in this book have the potential to revolutionize how you look at yourself, your family, and your job, regardless of what you do for a living.

How would your family or married life look if you defined what a successful family or marriage operated and then strove to accomplish those things? What IS a great husband? How does he behave toward his wife and children, his boss, his community, and his friends? What IS a great wife? How does she behave in those areas? What IS a great employee, a great boss, a great friend? What attributes do they have and what are the action steps you can take to become that great person?

Leaders do more than demonstrate attributes. Effective leaders get results.

Here are 10 steps to becoming a results based leader:

1. Focus on desired results. Results receive priority over everything except loyalty to organizational and personal ethics and values. The key feature here is that the results you desire must be clearly defined and understood by everyone within the organization. CEO’s and upper management cannot be constantly moving the target just someone is about to hit it.

2. As a leader, you must take complete responsibility for results. Failure to do so weakens morale and undercuts the opportunity for change and improvement. Leaders who fail to take responsibility, or worse, throw their subordinates under the bus, will not be in positions of leadership for long. That isn’t leadership. It’s despotism.

3. Clearly communicate expectations and targets to management and employees. Focusing on desired results makes goals and targets clear to all so that priorities become apparent and everyone can work toward those ends. How many times have you been working on a project, and making great progress only to find that the boss meant something totally different? Time wasters are demoralizers. Always, ALWAYS be clear in your expectations.

4. Determine what you need to do personally to improve results. Your success will depend on how well you perform these tasks—even if difficult staffing decisions or work processes are involved. Your personal commitment to self improvement will be an inspiration to your staff and will communicate UP the ladder that you’re a leader who leads by example. Leadership isn’t about controlling others, it’s about controlling yourself.

5. Engage in activities that will help you produce better results. Immediacy is a prime measure to be used for any personal development activity. Your approach should be “I will do _______ so that _______ will happen.” Undertake only those activities that can produce desirable, measurable results. Any other activities are a waste of time that do not move you along toward the completion of your goals and objectives.

6. Know and use your firm’s capabilities. Results-based leaders must know the strengths and weaknesses of everyone in their firm so they can take advantage of the former and shore up or eliminate the latter. This also includes constituencies as diverse as your vendors, suppliers, and customers. You have to know, really know what’s going on in the most vital aspects of your business.

7. Measure correctly and often. The central message of the book: Results matter and you must measure them. But before you can measure, you must understand what you are measuring and the best way to do it. Just because MIS can generate a report doesn’t mean it’s worth anything more than the paper it’s printed on. Reports don’t make you a great leader. It’s what you do with the information that will help you lead your team to produce those desired results.

8. Constantly take action. Results-based leaders must constantly organize, communicate, and focus on opportunities—on what the firm can do, rather than what it can’t. You will encourage results that way. Have a bias for action. Be the “go to” person who is known for getting things done, the right things, the right way.

9. Seek feedback. They say that feedback is the “breakfast of champions.” Ask management and employees how your efforts are doing. What do they want that is not being provided? What changes would they like to see? What are you doing that works well in their view? What tools do they need to help them achieve the desired results? Effective leaders solicit honest feedback and then USE that information to make improvements. Feedback without follow up is as worthless as last week’s newspaper.

10. Avoid the perception of personal gain. The question to ask: “What is my legacy to this organization?” Everything you do should be seen as benefiting the organization, not you personally. Personal gain shows up in things like how a leader uses company owned property or equipment. Whether he or she allows creative people to improve the company or insists that all ideas must originate from the top. It rears its ugly head when the leader sends a group of people on a wild goose chase just as she goes on vacation. Or when he insists that your department hire his daughter’s best friend’s husband…who isn’t qualified to open a can of carrots.

Leadership is more than a list of attributes. It’s more than knowing how to deal with people. It’s more than knowing the company’s vision. It’s more than communicating well, managing change, having integrity, empowering others, building teams, leveraging diversity, leveraging technology, or having “passion” for the task at hand. Leadership, true effective leadership connects all these positive attributes (and many others) to desired results.

A leader gets the right things done.

[tags]leaders, leadership, results, personal[/tags]

photo credit: Poldavo (Alex)