Ari and Sydney are both struggling in their jobs. Everyone who knows and works with Ari marvels at Ari’s effortless social skills, demonstrated capability as a communicator and a refined insight into others.
Sydney gets stuff done. This new manager is revered for an acute desire to move things ahead and a proven history of overcoming even the most daunting of obstacles.
Ari excels in building relationships but lacks a focus on results and Sydney is all about deliverables, but social skills are not a strength…yet!
James Zenger, co-author of the phenomenally successful and insightful book The Extraordinary Leader in a 2009 study with 60,000 participants demonstrated just how difficult it is to be effective leaders when they were defined primarily by either social skills or results focused alone. When leaders had exemplary social skills, their chances of being seen as great were 12%. When they were perceived as being exclusively results focused their chances of being seen as great were 14%. When leaders were perceived as having both strong social skills and a focus on results their chances of being seen as great rose to a whopping 72%.
The subject of strengthening capabilities in building relationships has been well documented in several of my blogs over the years so here are a few thoughts on how someone can solidify their capacity for delivering required results:
1. Spending the most time on the few activities that generate the greatest outcomes and bring the most value. Stepping back from the work and looking at it with this lens is a common trait among those who deliver time and time again. The Eisenhauer matrix that helps differentiate what is urgent from what is important can be a helpful tool.
2. Manage distractions ruthlessly. Our digital world offers a daily smorgasbord to test our impulse control. Focusing on results requires healthy habits around compulsive email checking, smartphone use and how we manage our precious concentration resources. Investigate the Pomodoro Technique that teaches 25 uninterrupted minutes of concentrated effort followed by 5 minutes of whatever busyness you desire then back to 25 minutes of focus, etc.
3. Make more use of the three D’s: delegation to best leverage your time and capability; deliverables - most of what we do at work can be framed as a tangible, measurable outcomes; and deadlines to compel our focus on specific time targets.
4. Scheduling instead of list making. People who get stuff done are relentless schedulers of activities and tasks. They diligently protect their most precious inventory item (their time) and they ensure things move forward by committing an activity to a time slot in their calendar as part of a daily routine instead of never-ending to do lists.
5. Ingraining a diligent and robust practice of following up on everything with the help of systems/habits/routines that leave nothing to chance. More to come on this topic in a future blog. In the meantime, simply scheduling specific items for follow up at a future date in your calendar will help you make progress.
6. Tenaciously clarifying and re-clarifying expectations with your boss, colleagues, direct reports, clients and all stakeholders so deliverables and timelines are always crystal clear, and those same expectations are continuously being managed, communicated and adjusted as needed.
Fortunately for Sydney and Ari they found each other. Through the help of their company’s HR shop and both their managers wanting them to grow and develop, they have been mentoring each other given that one’s strength corresponded with the other’s need for development. In addition, they have both been on a quest to compliment their peer mentoring by reading as much as they could about their area of development and both have availed themselves of a variety of learning opportunities through training and coaching.
May you find your Ari or Sydney to assist you in re-balancing results and relationships, but remember the quest begins with understanding which of the two would benefit from your attention and effort and then committing to making progress on it.