Why Leaders Need to Learn to Speak in Outcomes, Not Activities

Why Leaders Need to Learn to Speak in Outcomes, Not Activities

Karin Simonsen | 2015-06-19 14:26:00

canned-phone-568056_1280_thumb

Today's most successful business leaders and managers exercise their leadership in such a way that their people are held accountable whilst being empowered to make decisions, share information and try new things.

The mindset that each person brings to your organisation has an impact on its success. But, the mindset that you bring yourself in your leadership role will have the greatest impact of all - positively or negatively!

Unsuccessful leaders have mindsets that are fixed on the specific activities of the organisation. In comparison, great leaders focus on the outcomes.

What does successful leadership look like?

Most of us can think of clear examples of poor leadership and understand that it can be distressing and difficult to work within those organisations. Most of us can also think about great leadership and how that enlivens and drives an organisation forward.

 “Success is not only the results you need to achieve, but it’s the behaviours that enable those results, or in other words, the culture and behaviours.  Successful leaders work on both things. They work on driving results, but also they work on facilitating and building the culture they need in their team so that they take the ownership.” – Mark Fritz

Great Leaders Focus on Outcomes not Activities

Being outcomes focused versus activity focused will make a huge difference to your organisation. When staff focus on the activities their focus is on staying busy. There is no force driving them to do anything differently than what they did the day before. But, when staff are focused on outcomes, their focus is on achievement and they are motivated to look for better ways to reach the achievement faster.

It's no surprise then that the most successful leaders think and communicate in the language of achievement rather than activity. Great leaders bring an 'outcomes-mindset' to everything they do and focus on instilling that mindset in their people too. Where do you currently fall? Have a look at the table below and consider what kind of language you currently use.

Language of achievement vs activity:

Language of Achievement

Talk in...

Outputs

Deliverables

Decisions

Milestones

Language of Activity 

Talk in...

Inputs

Tasks

Discussions

To-do lists

Source: Book: Lead & Influence - Mark Fritz

So how can you move towards an outcomes focused mindset?

  • Consider this; within your organisation are you or your people focused on activities or outcomes?
  • Are you achieving the results that you could?
  • How do you currently drive accountability? 
  • Would you rather your people were focused on an activity or an outcome?

Moving from an activities-focused, to an outcome-focused mindset can be a difficult process as this requires leaders to give up control in favour of trust and collaboration. If you have found yourself in control of too many aspects of the business, you should consider if you are getting the most out of your people. If trust is the issue then this must be addressed sooner rather than later. If you are a CEO or MD that is looking to hold on to control of the business it is likely that you experience business fatigue - and at what cost?

Leadership and strategy expert Jim Alampi states that if you are currently holding on to high levels of control within your business then you are suppressing the skill and the knowledge within your organisation.

“You are missing a huge boat in terms of leveraging the skill sets, knowledge, and experience of all of the rest of your leadership team and people. And it usually means a company is so focused in the business that nobody is thinking on the business”- Jim Alampi

If no one is thinking on the business, how many resources, ideas and man-hours are going to waste? Ask yourself, what are your desired outcomes and does everyone else know that they are – or should be – working towards them? At future meetings, try mentioning your milestones more than your to-do lists, allow others to become accountable for their actions and discover if your company is full of activity or achievement.

 

As a business leader, do you let your people assume responsibility for what they do?

More from Vistage:

Mark Fritz Video Ownership Thinking

Subscribe to the blog

JOIN OVER 21,000 BUSINESS OWNERS, MDS & CEOS WORLDWIDE WHO HAVE TAKEN LEADERSHIP TO THE NEXT LEVEL

BECOME A MEMBER

M

Work on your business, not in it
Make better decisions
Gain different perspectives

BECOME A CHAIR

C

Challenge & develop leaders
Know that what you do matters
Be part of an elite community

BECOME A SPEAKER

S

Inspire today’s business leaders
Lead and clarify thinking
Join a world-class speaker network