The Leader’s Opportunity

by  Chris Edmonds  |  Leadership Development
The Leader’s Opportunity

If you were to boil “effective leadership” down to three core concepts, what would they be?

As I engage with senior leaders to learn how they view leadership, the concepts they provide are almost exclusively financial metrics. The most popular responses include “hit the numbers,” “exceed budgeted nets,” and “deliver what our customers need, profitably.”

Those are all good things. Financial success helps your enterprise sustain itself. Delivering on promised results and profits will rarely be a bad thing for a leader to accomplish.

Isn’t it interesting, though, that proven benefits like boosting employee engagement or creating a safe, inspiring work environment or treating everyone with trust, respect, and dignity don’t make the “top list”?

The quality of workplace relationships matters. The research is undeniable. Talented, engaged employees who feel valued and respected generate consistent results, WOW customers, and treat others with dignity, every day. That’s a desirable mix: engaged players, consistent results, great service, and civil treatment.

Leaders have the opportunity – or more specifically, the responsibility – to create something more than a “results at any cost” workplace.

Here’s my take on the three core concepts of effective leadership.

Leaders must set the context for the work team members do. Beyond “making money” or “finishing projects,” what is the meaningful outcome of the work? How do customers benefit? Do your products and services help improve the quality of life of customers? How does your community benefit? Are some profits set aside for community service projects or supporting a local charity? Is time set aside regularly – say, once a quarter – so employees can volunteer to build bicycles for needy children or help paint an elderly resident’s home? When leaders promote and engage in these discussions and activities, they help create meaning and significance beyond results.

Team leaders and team members have responsibilities, too. They embrace goals, tasks, and projects and commit to completing them “on time and under budget.” Talent and enthusiasm must be aligned to performance expectations as well as to treating others according to your team or company values and behaviors. Every member of the organization must build relationships, extend networks, and offer desired solutions so that performance expectations are realized. Leaders must clarify expectations and secure everyone’s commitment to deliver on their performance promises, kindly.

When you read that term, I know what you’re thinking: “Uh, oh. Someone’s in trouble!” The reality is that leaders need to be prompt with positive consequences as well as negative consequences. When people exceed expectations, when they go above and beyond to proactively solve problems or wow customers, leaders must promptly recognize them. Praise and encourage players when they do the right things the right way!

And, sometimes people don’t do what they’ve promised they will do. Sometimes people fall short of their agreed-to performance. When that happens, leaders must promptly engage in discussions to express issues clearly and directly, listen and learn about dynamics that may be driving undesirable behaviors, and reach agreements to ensure aligned behavior moving forward.

Those are my three. What do you think? What have I missed? Add your thoughts in the comments section below.

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About The Author

Articles By chris-edmonds
S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, thought leader, author, and executive consultant. He writes books. He blogs and podcasts. He’s a working musician on the side.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Jane  |  04 May 2016  |  Reply

Every point TRUE. I love these points because they refute the idea that unless you can measure it, it can’t be effective as a leadership strategy. Of course financials matter but if things like engagement, commitment, trust, and empathy are present, the results will come.

Chris Edmonds  |  04 May 2016  |  Reply

Thank you so much, Jane! You’re right on it – results will come, and will sustain, when people feel valued for their skills, ideas, & passion!



John E. Smith  |  06 May 2016  |  Reply

Hi, Chris – another engaging and very well thought-out post:)

First, thanks for pointing out that “consequences” are just a result and their negative or positive value is set by our expectations and goals. People tend to shy away from anything entitled a consequence, and yet winning Powerball would have many consequences for me … to which I say, bring ’em on:).

I have no suggestions for additional core concepts, but I do appreciate the three you chose to focus on. The progression from Context to Commitment to Consequences is strong, logical and important. Nice job sequencing these 3 core concepts :)


Chris Edmonds  |  06 May 2016  |  Reply

I wish you great positive consequences with Powerball, John! :)

I’m a big consequence guy. There are logical consequences of everything we do. Eating a fat-laden plate of fried foods would have logical consequences on my commitment to eating lean proteins and veggies!

Thanks for your comment & validation that I’m on the right track. I appreciate you, sir!



Heidi Gordon  |  09 May 2016  |  Reply

Thank you for pointing out that everyone’s commitment must be secured! I find it so interesting that top management and subordinates generally have opposing views of leadership. Top management seems to be, as you say, more about numbers and budgets, but subordinates are more interested in the intrinsic qualities of what makes a great leader.

Chris Edmonds  |  09 May 2016  |  Reply

Thanks so much, Heidi! Without securing commitment, there is no leadership. :)



Heidi Gordon  |  09 May 2016  |  Reply

When did you publish this information?

Chris Edmonds  |  09 May 2016  |  Reply

Not sure what you’re asking. This post went live five days ago. The research post ( referred to in my article went live in October ’14.



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