Which is more important, People or Results?

I read a post over at Joseph Liberti’s blog, Emotional Intelligence at Work that got me thinking about the tension that many of us experience as leaders: do we focus more on people or on results?  Joseph’s post discusses the importance for leaders to be focused on BOTH people and results. 

Peoplevstasks_2When I started my career with IBM as a project engineer, I was focused only on results.  I viewed people as distractions, time-wasters, or impediments to my ability to get my job done.  I liked small projects where I didn’t need to rely on others.  I did not like bigger projects that required the support and cooperation of many people.  I never appreciated the fact that small teams (and teams of one) rarely accomplish much. 

I have learned a lot in the last 20+ years of managing projects and I now know that people are critical to the success of the project.  To make change or to make an impact, you need a team and sometimes very large teams. 

What is just as important though, is that over the last 20+ years I have become aware that my own natural tendency is to focus on results or the task at hand first or more often than I focus on people.  That bit of self-awareness helps me; I use it to push out of my comfort zone and balance my focus on results with increased focus on people.

Take just a moment and think about how you approach projects.  Are you focused on people or on the results?  Does it change over time?  Are you able to focus on both?  What would your manager or the people on your teams say about your style and your focus?

I am going to check out the book that Joseph referenced in his post, Extraordinary Leader: Turning Good Managers into Great Leaders.  I am also going to bookmark Joseph’s blog as it looks like he is bringing great insights about the application of emotional intelligence to the workplace.

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