Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Focus on Results, Not Activities

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Many of us are extremely busy in our jobs, callings and vocations. But being busy is not the same as being productive. In the Fortune 50 organization that I worked at for my nearly 38-year career, we would often talk about “results, not activities”. One of the first times I heard this was after turning in my comments for my mid-year review of my goals. That task was always one of my least favorite to do, and I was always happy to get it done. Unfortunately, on one occasion, shortly after turning in my mid-year document to my leader, she returned with it all marked up in red ink. She handed it back to me and said that I had listed a lot of activities. What I needed to do was show results.
This makes sense, of course. Organizations will reward workers for achieving results. Being busy in and of itself will not move the organization forward. What do I mean by focusing on results, rather than activities? Let me give you a few examples.

I would often list in my goal progress comments that I had read a book, attended a learning event, served on the board of an industry professional organization, mentored an emerging leader, etc. Without any additional comments, those are activities, even if they all are positive activities. Each one of them would have contributed to how busy I was. What I needed to do was communicate any results that came from each activity. For example:

  • In reading a book on leadership, what did I learn from the book that I put into practice that resulted in me growing in my leadership skills?
  • In attending an industry conference, what “best practice” did I hear about in a session I attended that I brought back to my organization and shared with those responsible for that area that helped our organization move forward?
  • In serving on the board of a professional industry organization, what new leadership skills did I develop or enhance by that I was able to use in my leadership position in the workplace?
  • If in mentoring an emerging leader, was I able to help them by performing mock interviews which resulted in improved performance in an interview and a job offer?

In all of the above type situations, we need to be as specific as possible. For example, by reading and discussing The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell with a mentee, I couldn’t just state that I had grown in my leadership. No, I would need to say how I grew. What skills did I learn or enhance that helped me to achieve results in my position as a leader?
Unfortunately, we can be very busy, work long hours, and really do some positive things, but not demonstrate results. To be successful, we need to be intentional in how we spend your time. When presented with an opportunity, ask yourself how it will help your organization to move forward or help you grow in your present position. An opportunity that will help you grow and develop for a future position, while certainly helpful and valuable, is less likely to help you demonstrate results in your current position. After all, organizations will reward you primarily for results, not activities.
Is this a new concept for you? Do you find yourself extremely busy, but at the end of the day with little to show for it? That can be extremely frustrating. Remember, as John Maxwell writes in his book Leadership Gold, activity does not necessarily equal accomplishment. Try to focus your efforts on achieving results.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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