Is it important as a leader to focus on results more than process?

“Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it.”

John Steinbeck


As of this posting (11-18-2015) in the NFL there are two unbeaten teams. The New England Patriots and The Carolina Panthers. Reporters constantly ask coaches and players of these teams, “What are your thoughts about going undefeated?” The response  reporters  receive. “We are just focused on the next game.” Why is this the canned response? The coaches do not want the players, fans, etc to get caught up in the Results Trap.

In leadership it’s easy to focus on the results isn’t it? You get the accolades and recognition when you have done well. You feel like you are on top of the world! I have done it many times and yes sometimes the desired result happens.

It is also easy to be blinded by success aka results. However, when a person does that what usually happens?  They land flat on their face and wonder what the heck happened. Things I have heard and said when caught in the results trap. Everything looked so good. We had so much momentum. Then snap, crackle pop! Back to square one. Yes, I too have been part of that club numerous times in my career. The lesson I learned in how to have sustainable long term success is to concentrate on the “steps to success rather than worrying about the end result.”

Instead of thinking about the next record to be broken, think about running a stellar appointment. Instead of thinking about that next big plaque, think about how you are going to take care of the most recent client you sign up and earn referrals. Instead of thinking about the next big promotion focus on the responsibilities you have in your current role. Instead of thinking about an undefeated record focus on one game at a time.

One of the most valuable lessons my mentors have taught me is that the people you lead want a clear roadmap aka a Playbook. It’s up to you as their leader, no matter how many times you have to repeat it to keep them focused on it. That roadmap should also have two parts to it.

The first is key performance indicators (KPIs). Are you clear on them?

JJ Watt, NFL Player for the Houston Texans said, “Success isn’t owned. It’s leased, and rent is due every day.” He couldn’t more right. Effort equals results. What effort must be put forth each day to get XYZ result. Every year new technology, a new fad comes out. But if you look under the hood it all comes down to basics (KPIs) and you have to be diligent on those basics each and every day.

In sales, we talk about CAPS. Each you day have to make the Contacts, to earnAppointments, to generate Proposals, to close Sales. Again simple, yet it’s the roadmap aka the Playbook. B doesn’t come before A, you have to do A first.

And here is the second part of the roadmap to success that I learned is critical to long term success. In the past I have made the mistake of just focusing on the key performance indicators(KPI) and then I realized focusing on that alone was/is a big mistake. There have been times where my teams have exceeded KPIS, however our results were down the tube. Why? My roadmap was missing a critical component. Personal, motivational and moral development, the roadmap needed mental conditioning. People must feel good about themselves to produce good numbers. It creates a strong culture and a true feeling of teamwork. The numbers are important just the last piece of the puzzle.

So the next time you are wondering what happened to all the success you had or aspired yet it didn’t come or wasn’t sustainable over time ask yourself this, were you focused on the roadmap aka your Playbook or were you focused on the end result? And is your team focused on the roadmap or the end result?

This poem sums up focusing on the roadmap best.


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