Niccolò Machiavelli more than 500 years ago was familiar with leading change. He wrote, “... it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to handle, more doubtful of success and more dangerous to implement than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” Change was hard then, and it still is. In fact, about the only thing that has changed is the pace of change.If you are a leader you are first and foremost tasked with delivering results. Good intents and a new model are no guarantee to hit your target. Continuously delivering results can prove challenging. There are always obstacles and setbacks. However, your ability to deliver results can be enhanced by doing some simple things.Define your vision. Results are only valuable if they help you move toward that vision. Clarify the future you are committed to bring about. Write down your vision and communicate it to everyone on your team. This will influence your strategy to deliver results — you’ll know what resources you need, you’ll be able to guide your team and ultimately, you’ll drive results.Be clear about the results your desire. Foggy goals produce less than desired results. Getting clarity on results can make a big difference. Sometimes you can really move the needle in the right direction just by taking time to specify exactly what you want to happen, and work back from there.Take people with you. You can’t be a leader without followers. You can’t have followers without getting their buy-in. For people to follow you, it is essential that you can get their buy-in. Don’t just impose your ideas; actually invite and listen to other people’s ideas and concerns, and then respond. They will want to go with you.Be clear about the deadlines involved. While defining a vision allows you to establish a goal, in order to deliver results on that goal, you must also set clear deadlines. Setting clear deadlines gives everyone involved a path to follow. Deadlines provide:
Ability to allocate resources
Opportunity to identify issues in a timely manner
If you track and follow-up regarding clearly defined deadlines, you’ll know about any issues while there is still time to fix it and still reach the results desired. If your desired results are at risk, you can solve issues early on and figure a course correction in order to deliver results on schedule.Balance short and long-term objectives. It is easy to fall into the trap putting out fires, looking for just short term fixes. The challenge for the leader is to find the right balance between the short-term day to day issues and the longer term vision.Truth be told, however, results only consistently come to the leaders who have a strong team. That is the most vital factor in delivering consistent results. How can you build a stronger team?Be someone who great people want to work for. Leaders have a monumental impact on the quality of life of the people on their team. The best candidates are generally people who have options and really care about the kind of leader they work for. That means they don’t HAVE to choose you. That means hiring isn’t just a one-way street; the best potential team members candidates are going to be assessing you right back and deciding whether they’d be excited to join your team. It’s important to make sure that you’re leading in a way that will attract and retain great employees: treating people well, speaking wisely and kindly, gathering everyone around clear goals and expectations, providing useful feedback and opportunity for development, giving credit and rewards for great work, ensuring they have the resources to do their jobs, and generally making your team a great place to work.Give your staff real input into the life and direction the team is headed. That doesn’t mean that you need to let your staff dictate the decisions – there are many good reasons to avoid that. But you should seek out their thoughts and actually consider them Make it clear that you will make the final call, but you need to hear from them. Take the input you receive seriously – engage, ask questions, explain when you disagree, and give it a real hearing. You’ll get two great benefits. First, you’ll gain a more invested team, because they actually have a part in steering the ship. Second, you will make better decisions because of the input.Select team members really, really carefully. The biggest lever you have to get results from your staff is who pick to be on your team in the first place. That means that you should put a ton of energy into recruiting, screening candidates, testing candidates’ skills, and seeing them in action before making changes to your team. When we rush to fill a vacancy, we are almost guaranteed to have a team of mediocre players instead of superstars. It may save you some angst on the front end, but the long term hassles and regrets are sure to be big.Know that your responsibility for character and make-up of your team continues after the hire. Your job is not just to do the best you can with what you have; you are supposed to shape what you have and make it better. You have to out major energy into developing the team, helping them get better and better. You have to develop yourself to be better and better. Then you can afford to be strategic about retaining the best team members and letting people go who aren’t interested or capable to deliver the needed results. Changing team members is very costly in momentum and morale if it is not clear you have given your best to develop them.You’re the leader. You are expected to deliver results. You can do it.