There’s a Fine Line Between Driving For Results and Driving Your Team

by | Jan 12, 2017 | Behavior, Blog Series, Execution, Leadership, Management, Relationships, Self-awareness, Team | 0 comments

This is the second entry in the Fine Line Series, highlighting the often razor-thin margin between essential and detrimental leadership behaviors. Exhibit a particular behavior and you’re a champion; overdo it just a little bit and you’re a chump. How do you know where the line between them is, and how can you avoid crossing over it? 


Leaders need to get results. That’s their most basic function. It’s what everyone else is depending on, what they’re accountable for and what they are judged by.

To produce results, of course, leaders act upon their teams with many and varied forms of influence: motivation, inspiration, exhortation, challenge, encouragement, confrontation, training, etc., keeping the team focused, pushing through distraction and setback. This is the leadership competency often referred to as driving for results. The more desperate the situation (usually), the more intense the drive for results will be.

Here’s where it gets tricky.

Leaders need to get results. That’s their most basic function.

Motivation can become manipulation. Inspiration morphs into impatience. Exhortation, pleading. Confrontation, blaming. And so on. If this is you, you’re no longer driving for results, now you’re driving your team.

As these approaches become typical the team members become aware they’re being driven. They burn out. Their engagement falls off as they realize they’re being used to achieve someone else’s agenda—and it shows. You might get notable short-term results, but you can’t sustain them over time. And a once-driven team will rarely be able to rise to bigger challenges in the future.

A once-driven team will rarely be able to rise to bigger challenges in the future.

“And Your Point Is…?”

Usually, how you get results ultimately matters more than the results themselves. But it rarely feels this way in the moment.

How you get results ultimately matters more than the results themselves. But it rarely feels this way in the moment.

So What?

Leaders don’t just get results, they get results through people. It’s one of the most basic—yet most overlooked and misapplied—of leadership principles.

If you’re only thinking about your leadership responsibilities in terms of the outcomes and accountability, you’re thinking is too short-term. You’re not multiplying your effectiveness. Your leadership approach is transactional. You’re not developing your team, you’re draining them dry.

And, frankly, you’re missing one of the more personally rewarding parts of leadership: Helping others achieve success and fulfillment.

You’re not developing your team, you’re draining them dry.

The Big Picture

Good leaders build effective teams, delegate and manage well to produce consistently solid results.

Better leaders do the same, while also creating disciples who flourish and become great leaders in their own right.

Great leaders multiply themselves, building organizations and individuals who experience new levels of capability and innovation.

Great leaders multiply themselves, building organizations and individuals who experience new levels of capability and innovation.

Your Next Step

Envision your team (i.e. direct reports, children, students, etc.) reaching their full potential—not just their full productivity—as they give effort toward their tasks.

  • What does that picture look like?
  • Who are they as individuals?
  • What’s keeping them from achieving that level?

Now, what can you do to about what you’ve discovered?

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