The Best Leaders Focus on Results and Relationships

“Drive for results” is a must-have skill for successful leaders. But the best results-driven leaders also focus on relationships.

Some leaders don’t get it.

Here are comments I’ve heard from results-driven leaders who don’t appreciate the value and power of building trusting and effective relationships …

“If I soften my approach, people will not perform.”

One ‘Type A’ leader I know told me this after losing two senior people on his team within a few months because of his bullying and intimidating style. Several others around him also complained. Despite his track record of getting results, this leader’s boss would not promote him until he changed his approach.

“Why should I recognize someone for just doing her job?”

A better question to ask is “Will this person be more engaged and perform better if I recognize, encourage and inspire her?

 “I don’t play the politics game. I let my work speak for itself.”

If this is your view, your ideas and your team’s great work are likely not having the impact they could have. An organizationally savvy approach to strategically building trusting relationships helps ensure influence, take-up and recognition for you and your team’s great ideas.

“If you’re unhappy, then leave.”

I heard a leader say this once to his whole department. Yes, there’s a time and a place to tell people to stop whining. But the unintended impact of this leader’s comments was that people felt unappreciated and unwanted. They didn’t trust that he cared about them, and they assumed he didn’t want to hear their concerns.

“I don’t have time to deal with this person.”

Whether it’s putting off a difficult conversation, avoiding delivering a difficult message or simply not taking the time to respond to someone’s need or request, problems can tend to get bigger and take more time if we don’t address them quickly. As the saying goes, “You can pay me now, or pay me [more] later.” The cost of engagement and retention is usually much lower than the cost of attrition.

Be a leader who gets it.

Remember the Type A leader who thought there was only one way to get results? To his credit, he agreed to work with an executive coach and completed a 360 degree assessment and a leadership style assessment. He acted on the feedback and suggestions he received. He practiced new ways to lead, motivate and manage while still getting results. He learned to build trust and inspire people to do their best. His team’s performance improved, he got better results and he was promoted.

His story is a great reminder to those of us who are results-driven. We are at our best when we focus on both results and relationships.

Joe Baker is a Partner with PeopleResults. As a leadership consultant and executive coach, he helps executives and their teams focus on achieving meaningful results and effective relationships. Contact him at or on Twitter @JoeBakerJr.