Making Change: Getting Results
Leaders are accountable for the direction of the company, business unit, or project, and they must be committed to implementing that direction. A leader will do a great deal of thinking, researching, consulting, collaborating,
and seeking of shared purpose in many different ways before crafting that direction. But after all that – after that direction has been crafted and then presented to the organization's followers and stakeholders – the direction amounts to a decision to go forward, and the leader is dedicated to making the change and getting results.
The very best leaders are passionate about making meaningful change and getting measurable results. Getting those results is not the last thing the very best leaders think about and do. The best leaders think about getting positive results all the time.
There is a fallacy in the minds of some – tragically so in the minds of some aspiring leaders – that role model leaders sit in a corner ofice thinking about visions of a future, take those visions to the organization's people, say “go do it,” and then walk away. The false idea here is that leaders set the direction for others to then implement. In other words, leaders only watch change happen. That is at best an exaggeration, and most people know it. The reality is that the very best leaders are engaged in the entire process of change. They are driven by the value they place on meaningful change and by their overwhelming desire to get results. But they also hold it to be true that the very best way to change things for the better is to inluence people to follow their direction in the most effective manner possible.
The very best leaders believe – indeed, they know – they must work in unique and different ways than those whose primary roles are managing and following. Furthermore, they must do so at the action and results stages of the change process. Leaders often participate in projects by adding their functional skills to those of the team. Even so, their most important task – getting results – is accomplished not by contributing to the functional work but by leading.
The organization needs to sense the leader's role in taking action and getting results. That leader needs to be seen, heard, and felt when change is being implemented. Sometimes this means that the architect of the change effort must be seen as working with the team hands on. Sometimes the leaders, having designed and set the direction, can make their ongoing impact felt by asking appropriate questions and by personally coaching the people on the implementation team. There are many ways that leaders can make their impact felt, depending on their unique capabilities. What is most important is that they be passionate about the action and results stages of the change process, not merely interested. This point is discussed at more length later in the book.
The very best leaders know and are motivated – or driven – by the complete process of leading: by thinking, directing, inluencing, doing, and getting results. None of these elements of the leading process is more im-
portant than the other. All of these elements are about changing things – about getting results that improve people's lives.
I have said that leaders are passionate about meaningful change and getting results. An equally good word for that is ambition: role model leaders and aspiring leaders are extremely ambitious.
In most of the lecture series that I give students on leading and leadership, I ask them, “All those who want to change the world for the better, raise your hand.” Of course, they all do. They are all aspiring leaders. But they do not yet know how to lead or what to do. They may not understand what I'm really asking, but they place great value on the idea of service to people. They are ambitious! And that is what young aspiring leaders need to be, but that is just the start.