To Get the What–You Need the Why and How

Guest post from regular contributor S. Chris Edmonds:

Why does your leadership team exist? To get results. Increase profits. Deliver expected performance. Right?

Take a look at many companies, and that seems to be true. The only thing that is measured, monitored, and rewarded are results and profits–that’s what they mean by “performance.” Leaders are recognized and valued (and paid) based upon their ability to deliver these tangible results. In many cases, that’s what leaders before them did, so they’ve picked up the baton and do the same thing.

It’s all they know.

But focusing exclusively on results and profits often has unwanted consequences. The biggest one? Team leaders and members find any way they can to make sure those numbers look good, including inhibiting other’s performance, manipulating numbers, spinning a presentation, or worse. The “I win, you lose” mantra destroys trust, respect, and dignity.

It also destroys the very results the company is aiming to achieve.

Think about it. Why would anyone want to work hard to deliver results with integrity when those who are recognized and rewarded are the ones who took the shortcuts?

There is nothing wrong with results and profits. What sucks is when the work environment is so competitive that people have to battle their peers to “win.” So much for wellbeing and cooperation. Welcome to anxiety and anger.

There is a better way. I can prove it.

Leadership teams who craft a present day purpose focused on serving others, and clearly outlining desired values, behaviors, strategies and goals via an organizational constitution see results, performance, engagement and service increase by an average of 35% – 40% within 18 months. Those are impressive numbers, but getting leadership teams to evolve past their “old ways” is challenging.

So start with questions.

● What does this team do? (How do they spend their time?)

● Who do they do this for? (Who are this team’s primary customers?)

● Why do they do it? (What is the desired outcome—besides making money?)

You might be surprised at the answers to number three. Sure, employees want decent pay, benefits and perks. But what humans crave more is purpose and meaning. They want to make a difference. When they feel they do, engagement goes up. They serve others effectively. And turnover goes down.

The “why” question is critically important. Most leadership teams I work with struggle with an answer to it. They’d rather focus on tangible results, fearing if they don’t, those results will go away. But they won’t. They will likely get better.

Using this exercise, one of my client’s crafted a terrific, service oriented purpose statement for their leadership team:

“Drive results and service through engagement and respect.”

This statement honors the tangible goals, but specifies that they are to be earned the right way.

Leaders, don’t focus exclusively on results. Think about the why and how. The leaders are responsible for a work environment based on trust, respect, and dignity. Create that, and see the results you want come naturally.

S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading At A Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here