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Focusing on the Output of Leaders

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Results-Based Leadership


Summary of Results-Based Leadership. Abstract

Dave Ulrich, Jack Zenger, Norman Smallwood (1999)

Dave Ulrich of the University of Michigan and consultants Jack Zenger and Norm Smallwood argue that it is not enough to gauge leaders by personal traits such as character, style, and values. It is a mistake to focus on leadership attributes that managers bring to the office, such as analytic thinking, working with ambiguity, and personal integrity. Rather, effective leaders know how to connect these leadership attributes with leadership results.

In their book Results-Based Leadership, Ulrich, Zenger, and Smallwood move us from thinking primarily about the inputs of leadership to stressing the outcomes of leadership. The challenge in a strategic Human Resources Management approach is to build leaders throughout the organization that focus on both attributes and results. To this end, the authors recommend that managers model what they want by continually asking what is required for achieving results and repeatedly telling stories about getting results.

The RBL formula:

"Effective Leadership  =  Attributes   x   Results."

Note that the equation suggests that leaders must strive for excellence in both terms; that is, they must both demonstrate attributes and achieve results. Each term of the equation multiplies the other, they are not cumulative. A score of 9 out of 10 in attributes, for example, multiplied by a score of 2 out of 10 on results, yields an effectiveness rating of only 18 out of 100, not 11 out of 20.

Ulrich cs offer four criteria for judging whether managers are indeed focused on achieving results:

  1. Balanced results balance the major dimensions of the organization (employees, organization, customers, investors) ignoring no one;
  2. Strategic results link strongly to the strategy of the firm's and its competitive position;
  3. Lasting results meet both short- and not sacrifice long-term goals; and
  4. Selfless results support the whole enterprise and transcend the manager's personal gain.


Executives should actually deliver results in four areas:

  1. for employees;
  2. for the organization
  3. for its customers, and
  4. for its investors.

Each area requires its own metric: for employees, it is developing their human capital and commitment; for customers, providing value for what they value; for investors, reducing costs and growing the business; and for the organization, creating a learning and innovative instinct.

In their 2003 book: Why the Bottom Line Isn't! Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood argue (as Baruch Lev did earlier on) that sustainable shareholder value comes increasingly from assets not accounted for on an organization's balance sheet. These assets include a company's reputation, its ability to attract talent, and its ability to react quickly to new opportunities in the marketplace.

T I P : Here you can discuss and learn a lot more about Results-Based Leadership.

Compare with Results-Based Leadership :  Leadership Styles  |  Value Based Management  |  Leadership Continuum  |  Path-Goal Theory  |  Contingency Theory  |  Competing Values Framework  |  Result Oriented Management  |  Seven Surprises  |  Seven Habits  |  SMART  |  Intangible Assets

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