The Benefits of a Results-Oriented Culture

By: Gregory A. Janicik

As a consultant who advises C-suite leaders on hiring decisions, I’m often asked to answer the question: Will this person be able to get the results needed? There is an obsession on “driving for results” as a behavioral competency. In fact, hiring managers at all levels will look at the experience and competencies of candidates for a given role yet ultimately focus on their ability to deliver. It’s not a bad thing—we should expect good leaders to deliver results. Yet delivering results is not just a function of the leader in place. Delivering results requires having a culture that effectively supports execution. 

The problem that I’ve seen is that when senior leaders think about effective execution with respect to their teams, they tend to think about people, structure, and processes. Questions emerge such as, Do I have the right people? Do we have effective processes in place? Do we have the right roles? Or the typical one: Do we have control over the decisions that we need to manage?

However, new leaders can only control so much. To succeed, they also must examine the operating culture across the organization. New leaders depend on their peers and the executive leadership team to establish ways of working that lead to desired results. This is easier said than done. In our experience working with senior leaders, three operating culture mechanisms can facilitate effective execution: specifically, when the commonly shared employee mindset reflects a focus on...

  • Operating excellence (or continuous improvement)
  • Collaborating and coordinating
  • Adapting

Let’s look at each one individually.

Operating Excellence
Driving results requires that team members and employees across the organization recognize when something is not working or when a given process is hindering progress. Thus, when leaders see managers and employees improving efficiencies or cutting through red tape, they know that work will get done effectively over time. There are questions leaders can ask as they examine how work gets done. Are there regular meetings or reviews to give people opportunities to discuss problems? Do all departments have access to quality data that people can leverage to make good decisions? Do we have the right balance between quality and speed when delivering work output? Taking time to examine the answers to these questions will help diagnose whether conditions allow for operational excellence and/or continuous improvement.

Collaborating and Coordinating
We regularly hear about the siloed organization where employees struggle because it is difficult to work across functions or departments. Structural barriers can easily be remedied, but managers and employees need to feel empowered to reach beyond their own group—ultimately making it more automatic for them. Looking to see if people get the appropriate stakeholders in a room quickly to solve problems or if they share information regularly across functions can help leaders ascertain if employees have a mindset of collaboration. Without an operating culture that facilitates collaboration and coordination, no structural change will alleviate the siloed organization phenomenon.

Finally, while senior executives are well paid to help shift the organization’s strategy and drive results when necessary, they need employees who will adapt and execute the new strategic mandate quickly. Failure to adapt or even slow adaptation can be the difference between surviving and thriving. Again, by observing how work gets done and looking for certain trends, leaders can identify how well employees are positioned to adapt. Is there a sense of urgency on basic day-to-day tasks? Are initiatives or projects reprioritized easily? Do employees take the time to learn from successes and failures in their given roles? If the answer is yes across these categories, leaders will likely be more successful when shifting strategies.

Driving for results has become an implicit part of the definition of a successful leader. While knowing how and when to take specific actions that create or achieve results is important, so is understanding the contextual variables that facilitate or hinder results. Looking at the employee mindset around how work gets done or should get done is critical. In particular, examining employees’ views on or approaches to continuous improvement, collaboration, and adaptation tells a great deal about whether or not an individual leader’s efforts to drive results will be successful or not. Driving for results is more complicated than we tend to think it will be when assessing whether or not an executive can indeed accomplish what’s expected.




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