People vs Results? There is no choice

Effective leaders use the skills of high engagement to create the conditions for people to perform with excellence.

Today’s overworked managers want to know what it takes to be successful. In my view, the key is to stay laser-focused on the two most important things, Results & People. Why? Because there is a vital connection between the two:

~ Your people deliver the results you desire. ~

If there is a secret to effective management, this is it!

Let’s dissect this formula into three component parts, People, Deliver, and Results.


The most effective managers develop their leadership capability. Leadership, by definition, requires Followers. You can’t be a leader alone. Your people are the means, the strategic channels, by which your organization reaches its goals. Therefore, your job is to do everything in your power to help your people succeed. At a high level, do what John Maxwell advises when he says: “A leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” And sometimes the leader gets out of the way.


The verb “deliver” in this secret means “to do or carry out as promised; to give birth to.” Results don’t happen unless someone makes them happen. Interestingly, the origin of the word deliver means “to set free.” Effective leaders unshackle their people and do everything in their power to remove obstacles and facilitate successful performance.


Every organization has a definition of success. When President John F. Kennedy said that America would put a man on the moon, he set in motion a great engine of success that unleashed tremendous creative energy…and changed the world. As General George S. Patton once famously said: “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and why, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

Let’s delve a bit deeper into the origin of the term “deliver.” It stems from the Latin dēlīberāre, meaning to set free, to liberate. You can’t deliver by fettering your people. Paradoxically, to deliver, one must let go.

This concept of liberation is the breakthrough idea in Jack Welch’s legendary pronouncement that “What we are looking for are leaders at every level who can energize, excite and inspire rather than enervate, depress and control.”

The “old school” of managing said: Control people. Stay on top of them. Now we know that the most effective leaders set their people free to do what they do best so that they can deliver the desired results.

Recent organizational effectiveness research is pointing very consistently toward the key to this liberation. In a word, engagement. Gallup and other similar workplace research organizations are saying that the more engaged a workforce, the higher the productivity –and the profitability– of the company.

The research is also saying that there is one variable, among all the factors that influence employee engagement, that has the biggest influence: the quality and effectiveness of the company’s managers. As the saying goes, “Employees don’t leave their company. They leave their manager.”

So here’s the question: What must a manager do to become an Engaging Leader?

In my work with diverse organizations since the late 1990’s, I’ve identified ten practices that I have combined into an acronym that I call ALICE:

Align & Appreciate

These two practices are about High Focus. By Aligning, the Engaging Leader gets everyone focused on where the company is going (Goals, Objectives and Plans) and how each person can play a part in getting it there. By Appreciating, the Engaging Leader gets to know each person on his or her team, especially their talents, their strengths, their aspirations, and their life concerns.

Listen & Learn

These two practices illustrate the Leading By Example principle. By Listening, the Engaging Leader adopts an open posture, receptive to all points of view, even those that are different from his or her own. By Learning, the Engaging Leader continues to grow, replenishing and revitalizing his or her own sources of creativity.

Involve & Improve

These two practices tap into the human yearning for Purpose and the desire to Participate. By Involving, the Engaging Leader treats each person like a partner in the business and asks “What do you think?” By Improving, the Engaging Leader uses collaboration and teamwork to find better ways to do things, solutions to operating problems, and even innovations that can lead to breakthroughs for the company.

Communicate & Coach

These two practices, along with the next two, are the key to High Performance. By Communicating, the Engaging Leader establishes a clear channel of dialogue with each member of the team so that information and ideas flow back and forth continuously, resulting in Understanding and Commitment. By Coaching, the Engaging Leader gives on-going performance feedback to each of his or her players, supporting and encouraging them to do their very best.

Energize & Empower

These two practices replace the old “Command and Control” model of leadership with a new model based on motivation and trust. By Energizing, the Engaging Leader activates the excitement of Mission, tapping into the human desire for autonomy, for self-determination, and for self-mastery. By Empowering, the Engaging leader galvanizes and authorizes the team to Execute, to decide how best to get to where its going, trusting that a well-trained team will use its resources wisely to reach a high quality decision.

By doing these ten practices consistently and continuously, a good manager will become an Engaging Leader. And she will be able to move the needle on engagement, on morale, on productivity, and even on profitability.

So if you want to become a more effective manager, there are two things you must focus on, Results and People. And make the critical connection between them that Your People Deliver Results.

Now you know the secret. That’s what the Engaging Leader does.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Sunday December 29, 2013

Much of the above post originally appeared as a blog entry on the Rutgers Center for Management Development blog on January 27, 2012.


Sam Velu said…
I love the concept of ALICE- Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year- Terry.
Terrence Seamon said…
Glad you like it, Sam. Happy New Year!
This was a great write up. Reminded me as if a coach if an underdog football team was giving his last locker room speech at half time to help motivate and win the game.

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