You know your industry is highly competitive. You know you are judged on your results. You know it’s critical to be highly productive. The problem is that this drive for efficiency often comes at the expense of being truly effective as a leader.
As a leader, your job is to get results ….. with, and through, other people. In other words, you must be highly efficient AND very effective. You must be able to meet multiple demands, achieve key results, as well as be able to build relationships, coach others and inspire your team.
This is incredibly challenging because efficiency and effectiveness, often compete with each other!
The Cost of Being a Purely Results-Driven Leader
Super-efficient leaders are highly task focused. They pride themselves on hitting targets, completing projects on time and on budget, on executing the strategy.
This drive is completely understandable because most often, you get promoted into a leadership position, because you have achieved outstanding results, very consistently. The transition from the high-achieving individual to the excellent leader of a high-achieving team can be very challenging.
The risk is that the highly task-focused leader is so productive, but that this comes at the expense of having sufficient people focus.
Highly efficient leaders often see building relationships, developing others and showing empathy as ‘wasting valuable time’, as interruptions or as obstacles on the way to achieving outcomes. Inadvertently these leaders often alienate people in their teams and in the wider business because of their perceived abrasive attitude. Their team members don’t believe their leader cares about them, they believe he/she just sees them as a cog in the machine.
Overly task-focused leaders are often highly-directive and controlling. They fear delegating tasks and say things like ‘If I let go and delegate it to others, they’ll probably mess things up. Then I’ll have to waste more time fixing what I could just have done in the first place! So it takes longer, I feel frustrated, and I look bad for not delivering.’
You Can be Too People Focused Too
Having strength as a leader who can inspire, influence, motivate and coach your team is a real asset, especially in today’s workplace where staff expect to have input, to enjoy their work and to feel valued and recognised for their expertise, ideas and achievements.
Of course, there’s such a thing as being too people focused as a leader.
These leaders kid themselves that all the time they spend with their team and with customers is well-spent and ‘will pay dividends in the end’. These leaders are so ‘understanding’ of their people that they excuse their negative attitudes or under-performance. They can be very busy building relationships, but building them without a sense of purpose, of what you can and will achieve together.
Sometimes they are so busy inspiring others that they become ‘all talk and no walk.’ A people focus is critical for you to be an effective leader, and that people focus must also align with your purpose and drive for results.
Highly task focused leaders tend to have more tunnel vision, and the drive for results pushes them to put ‘what they achieve’ way ahead of ‘how they achieve it’. As a result, they can gain the outcome but lose their people, both through their people losing engagement and literally because they exit the business. It is important to note too, that you generally lose your best talent and not those you would be happy to see go!
Highly people focused leaders can be too consultative and too understanding. They can be so obsessed with looking after people and relationships that they fail to deliver the results necessary for the business to be successful.
Efficient AND Effective (…not Efficient OR Effective)
You need to ensure that you are both efficient AND effective as a leader.
Great leaders are able to balance task-focused efficiency with people-focused effectiveness. They combine getting things done with inspiring, developing and empowering others. They are driven about achieving outstanding results AND they understand that they can do this best when they have their team ‘on board’.
There is a pertinent quote ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ Great leaders recognise the massive difference between being a high-achieving individual and leading a high-achieving team. They strive for an ‘effective champion team’ rather than for a group of ‘efficient champions’.
Each of us has a natural preference for ‘task first, people second’ or ‘people first, task second’. Which one are you?
And what will you change or improve to become a truly great leader?