Leadership Tip of the Week: Process vs. Outcome

The team was assembled in the conference room. They looked miserable and stressed out. They were about to be given the bad news, and the dread had already set in. They all sat staring at either the briefing slide or the reports in front of them, but instead of processing the information, you could see they were trying to anticipate how the senior leader was going to take the bad news. This was the third straight month of decline and the leader wasn’t going to be happy.

The leader entered the room and the whole team waited in anticipation. It was worse than they imagined. The leader looked happy; she was even smiling. The team didn’t know what to think. She jumped right to it: “We had a great month, and I couldn’t be happier with the team.”

The team was even more confused, but the leader quickly explained that she felt the team had finally fixed the process and the outcome would take care of itself.

The leader was focused on the process, but the team was focused on the outcome.

Focusing on outcomes instead of the process is a mistake many leaders make. Leaders need to learn how to maintain focus on the “controllables” — the things they can actually impact. These are also called lagging or leading indicators. Lagging outcomes are the results that occur as a result of leading indicators. Leaders need to focus on the leading indicators and not the lagging indicators if they want to achieve the best results.

Leaders can get ahead by focusing on the process and not the outcome.

Read more about strategies to more effectively measure success in this Lead Read Today article on The Leading Measure.

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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.