“Relationships And Results.” Which of those three words is most important?
I posed that question to over 100 participants in a series of workshops I recently conducted for a client. As you might suspect, about half the people thought relationships was the most important word. Their rationale essentially boiled down to people are the ones who do the work in the organization, and if you want them to produce good results, you need to nurture good relationships.
The other half of the group advocated that results was the most important word. Their argument was that without good results, positive relationships don’t matter. If you aren’t winning—however that is defined for your organization—then nothing else counts.
What is your answer to that question? If you said and, then bravo, you’re correct! (Did the title of the article give it away?!)
Organizational leaders often have an either/or attitude toward results and people. Those who focus too heavily on results may have trouble creating and sustaining great relationships with their people, and leaders who mainly focus on relationships may have trouble getting the desired results.
Placing too much emphasis on relationships to the detriment of results is perhaps the biggest misconception of servant leadership. That couldn’t be further from the truth! You can get both great results and great relationships if you understand the two parts of servant leadership:
- The leadership aspect focuses on vision, direction, and results—where you as a leader hope to take your people. Leaders should involve others in setting direction and determining desired results, but if people don’t know where they’re headed or what they’re meant to accomplish, the fault lies with the leader.
- The servant aspect focuses on working side by side in relationship with your people. Once the vision and direction are clear, the leader’s role shifts to service—helping people accomplish agreed-upon goals. Serving your people in this way builds high-trust relationships and results in highly engaged team members.
The simple truth is servant leadership is the best way to achieve both great results and great relationships. It’s common sense, but not always common practice.
I invite you to join me and Ken Blanchard for a live virtual talk on January 26, 2022, where we’ll discuss this and other simple truths of leadership and trust from our new book, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust. The event is free, but registration is required.
Randy Conley is Vice President of Professional Services and Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies. His award-winning blog, Leading with Trust, has influenced over 4 million viewers since its inception in 2012. His LeaderChat posts appear the fourth or last Thursday of every month. You can follow Randy on Twitter @RandyConley or connect with him on Linked-In.