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The Effectiveness-Lab

Leadership – the results business. Series 1 of 2

Daily at the Effectiveness lab, we observe instances, and many at that, where individuals get too focused on the nuts and bolts of their business value chain processes and activities and don’t remember to see the ‘Z’ point. These individuals wake up daily and do, do and do. Only by ‘doing’, they focus on process and activities part and rarely the end-game or results.

Yet impactful leadership is a ‘results’ business, and if you aren’t wired to think, plus see: end-game, end-product, end-position, you are in the wrong job or role. Results myopic?  If yes, consider your options since you may not move far from wherever you are positioned today.

Looking for the ideal ideal and career-enhancing trick? Yes, operate whatever part of an organisation’s business value chain (as used to run and deliver your business goals), but learn to assume helicopter view positions to see your end-position, and then marry the two. And you have your jigsaw done.

Moreover, the above isn’t a one-off act in a selected chain of activities, but a daily activity, and covers all your company’s work from gatekeeping, to cashiering, front desking, all the way to the CEO.

So, what is this ability or inability to sight-down the barrel of the value chain all the way to the end result?

We give an example of what many don’t consider leader material, to try and answer the above question.

Example 1: Enter a supermarket in Kampala and other parts of Uganda or any service business and all going to plan – the staff at the counter or customer service desk, will say hellos (hopefully a warm-hello); they will offer to serve you (hopefully not in the repulsing spirit of tick-the-box and move to the next person) and you shall be allowed to declare what kind of support you need from the staff. Support is provided, and bingo, the front desk staff, considers the job done. The staff has done their job, only in a straitjacket manner, and they will quickly usher in the next client. If we are to be blunt – it’s a traditional ‘cold’ish’ front-desk service culture, that primarily defines what is at the front desks of many organisations in this country.

Example 2: The ‘model’ customer-service staff is a staff that will, as soon as they see a client enter their space, straight away think about: how to get the client’s buy-in into the brand, what to do to keep the client happy and wanting to return, and if successful adding the client to the pool of thousands, if not millions of brand-loyal individuals, improving the firm’s bottom line. The staff in this example is linking what they routinely do, to the subject of the relationship (read: customer), but even more critical, to the end-point of the organisation’s value chain i.e. keeping as many clients happy and engaged as they can. We can tell you that many staff in such spaces don’t think like this, and it requires a very different mindset.

The staff in example one above is your typical ‘Tom, Dick and Harry’ type. While the staff in example two is your quintessential staff that works conscientiously and every day to secure the future of the firm’s brand.

The emerging theorem is that it takes deep and holistic thinking to be certified a viable leader; and that while leadership is the utmost individual attainment in most OD. configurations, it’s not an exclusive club of the aged, senior, experienced and tested individuals. Junior staff can exhibit leadership qualities without necessarily attaining the so-called required years of service/experience.

Two front-line staff in example one and two above – doing the same job and most likely earn about the same amount of money – yet one is more on the lacklustre side, and the other is leaderly. The former thinks and works to simply tick the box, make up the hours and earn their pay. While the peer thinks and works to tick the box, but also links their routine tasks to the Vision, Mission, and macro results of the company. The latter staff understands that their work should help the company add to and forever grow its bottom line. The former staff is myopic and results-agnostic. On the few occasions the myopic staff type thinks results/outcomes, they quickly default back to their mindset: ‘results aren’t their job’ but that of top leadership.

In the circumstances, progressive organisations have a straightforward job:

  • Look out for and support the growth of leaderly staff even if junior in rank
  • Use optics to re-orient OD. culture by consistently messaging that the company shall only invest in staff that can connect their day to day work to the anticipated company ‘Z’ point (results).   They are the future of the company.
  • Don’t consider as effective deployment of company resources, investment in any staff that works for the company. Define an internal ‘People Return on Investment’ – PRoI.  Leaders, via the HR units, data and analytics teams, and departmental line managers should define PRoI metrics and use them to manage performance plus groom and keep the very best staff. Investing in staff that can’t see plus connect the big picture to their day job is an injustice to shareholders if in the private sector, and to the public for those running public-facing institutions
  • We hope to start seeing internal business management paradigm re-definition and execution, moreover against the same uncompromising principles as firms run the external-facing elements of the business. What firms do externally to ensure the highest shareholder RoI should be done to the in-house business practices. For example, firms invest in research and high-end manufacturing technology to get the very best of products and, in turn, attract demand. In the same vein, firms need to research and deploy processes that identify the very best people brains; doing the latter guarantees a winning and ‘customer-satisfying/retaining’ service culture.
  • Archetypal recruitment and selection approaches that more often than not choose to hire and test on the job, need reconsidering. HR units have to re-think how to deliver the very best people to the firm, right from the word go. Industries need a people-focused Total Quality Management (TQM) movement. It’s got to become a people total-quality game at entry.

What is your PRoI? Does your organisation even think PRoI? If not, we at the Effectiveness lab implore you to start thinking different. Measure, to find out if for every dollar you spend on staff, there is a positive ‘results-influence’ accruing to the organisation.

Are the friends in the People and Culture (HR) units ready to think different?  See you next week for Series 2


2 responses to “Leadership – the results business. Series 1 of 2”

  1. Effective lab, I need you train me and my people in PRoI and TQM… great insights here. I need a new HRM


    1. @Kairu – thanks Sebbo for reading the blog


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About Me

Apollo B. Gabazira is an Ugandan OD. junkie fascinated by matters that render organisations/individuals effective or not. He blogs on effective leadership and management. He is a devoted green-farmer and breeds the Ayrshire cow at Nakabugu, Luuka district, Uganda. Apollo is quite effective at what he chooses to do.


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