Often in understanding business leadership, people tend to focus on two extreme models of leaders. The first is the “It’s all about the numbers,” leader. Typically, these are portrayed as hard charging, data driven, task and goal focused, and sometimes ruthless executives.
The other model is the human/people focused leaders. These are portrayed as caring more about people, their satisfaction, creating great collaborative work environments, expecting this will produce great results.
In reality, great leadership requires a balanced approach to both (minus the ruthlessness).
Great leaders are intensely business focused. They are driven to achieve, they have clarity about the strategies, goals, priorities, and directions of the organization. They are impatient in achieving those goals, recognizing results count.
But they realize, the only way they achieve these goals is through their people. Without engaged, motivated people executing the strategies, their ability to achieve their goals become nothing more than wishful thinking. Without making sure they have the right people, in the right jobs, performing at the highest levels possible, it is impossible for the organization to perform. Without continued coaching and development, over time, the organization will fail to grow and execute it’s strategies successfully.
Successful businesses leadership is about establishing a vision, setting goals, developing strong strategies, building capabilities and capacity within the organization to execute those goals, and knowing these are achieved through people.
But where they differ from the first type of executive I described, is these leaders recognize the only way they can achieve the goals, the only way they can execute the strategies is through their people.
The reality of top leadership performance is you have to span the extremes of these model. Focusing on one without the other is a recipe for failure. Too large a focus on one over the other creates stress and imbalance in the organization.
Afterword: Joel Trammell wrote a terrific article in Inc Magazine: 6 Habits Of People Centric Leaders. Make sure you read it. I wanted to expand on his discussion.