When asked to give a reason why he’s been so successful, University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban stated, “One of the things I always struggle with is we live in such an outcome-oriented world. People want to focus on outcomes, and I think outcomes are a bit of a distraction. Instead, leaders should focus on the process—that is, doing the things big and small that will produce the outcome they want to achieve.”
Did you hear that? Outcomes are a distraction—focus on the process! At Solutions 21, we believe an essential part of any organization’s success is to control your outcomes by focusing on the process. As a 21st-century leader, how are you controlling your outcomes? How can your company build a culture that starts fresh every year and fights complacency regardless of past success?
Early in my leadership journey, I was results-oriented and was always looking to the next goal. However, if the outcome was my sole focus, it is obvious why some goals fell by the wayside, and others just weren’t as fulfilling once achieved. I didn’t enjoy the process! This has been the key lesson: enjoy the process! But how? I’ve learned to ensure I have a valid process to enable the outcome I want to achieve through many trials and errors.
How can you validate a process of your own? How can you control your outcomes and focus on an approach that achieves perpetual success? I’ve considered three essential areas to answer these questions: Communication, Mindset, and Accountability. Come with me on this journey and enjoy the process.
21st-century leaders must communicate their plans and expectations clear and concisely. Controlling your outcomes means you communicate your strategic plan “deep and wide” throughout the organization, enabling ownership of the plan. Controlling your outcomes ensures that every leader and team member knows their part of the plan. How will you ask for commitments from each leader? Every time you speak to the organization, you must talk about the vision, plans, and goals. Once you’ve communicated the plan, you are ready to foster the proper mindset to fight complacency in the process.
How does your organization learn? What is the process of improving actions within the organization? Read my last blog on “The Performance Feedback Loop” if you’d like a proven process. How does your organization fight complacency? There can be no talk of “that’s not the way we’ve done it in the past.” The battle cry should be, “New year—new game!”
Do you have Measurable Action Plans (MAPs) for each teammate in the form of individual development plans? How do you tie mindset to the process? How do you demonstrate a pathway linking your teammate’s successes to the needs of the company? You should want your leaders to ask questions like “What box must I dominate this year?” and “What’s my part in the process this year?”
Encourage and emulate a learning mindset by asking probing questions like:
- What is good and needs to be sustained?
- What is wrong and needs to change?
- What is unclear and needs clarity?
- What is missing and needs to be added?
With your communication clear and mindset established, now it’s time to ensure a culture of accountability. Are you living what you teach and preach? Where is trust in accountability? Does the organization foster vulnerability to create an environment where everyone can safely fail? Providing performance feedback in a manner that builds others up and creates unity of purpose is a great way to build accountability into your process.
How can you build a culture of peer-to-peer accountability where, if someone says, “my bad” or “I missed that,” the learning opportunity is not missed? Ask the questions, “What caused the failure, what will you do to prevent it from happening again, and how can I better support you next time?” Truly live out the “Platinum Rule” where everyone treats others how they want to be treated.
Having worked on your goals during this past year, how will you communicate the coming year(s) plan? Does your organization require a change in mindset within the process? How does accountability need to change to control your outcomes? Remember, outcomes are distractions. As you develop your goals into the future, how will you focus on the process and control your outcomes?