Creative Leadership

“Results” at the Expense of “Relationship”

Everybody wants to be results oriented.  After all, many think that if you’re not getting results, then what’s the point?  It’s tough to argue with results.  In fact – especially when it comes to religious organizations and non-profits – I wish more were focused on results.  From evangelism, to relief work, to fundraising, results can be a good thing. But over the years, we’ve had a few clients that were so results oriented, it worked against them. Why?  Because they were too focused on results, at the expense of relationship.

For instance:

—  In order to save a few bucks, they were willing to damage a long term relationship with an excellent vendor.
— They created an atmosphere of distrust, because they were always nit-picking about issues that didn’t really matter.
— They walked into meetings looking for a fight.
— There were more proud of saving money than creating excellent work.
— They became budget oriented instead of people oriented.

In your well intentioned pursuit of results, don’t forget the importance of relationship. Don’t let budget and schedule drive your organization.  Remember the importance of values and people.  Sometimes spending money in the right way creates far more goodwill, motivation, and excellence.

Stop thinking of ways to squeeze more out of people, and think of ways to inspire them to do great work.  You may spend a few more bucks in the short term, but your long term “results” will be far greater than you can imagine.

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  1. As you aptly noted there's a need for more ministries to live by results. Some do a good job, others not at all and some are over the top. In the media management business we live or die daily as they say based on "the numbers or results". For example if a TV show ran yesterday, we are crunching numbers the next day to determine how well it performed. Media reports show how many orders, donations, products sold, and web activity came in from one specific airing. 

    Accountabilty in the world of media buying is pretty black and white…at least in the context of media dollars spent and media ROI's. However, when results aren't exactly what were hoped for….response may be more intanglible. People's lives were touched, inspired, prayed for or encouraged…some new names generated, however income was low, yet the real results may never be known until we've reached the other side.

    As noted…the bigger and harder issues relate NOT to the numbers, but to people and relationships.  We know all too well in this business its sometimes beyond our control when it comes to getting the boot. If deserved… then rightly so…however today with cash flows being tight… its easy to become a budget item… using the excuse "it's the economy" just to save a few bucks. Bottomline is all organizations and company's must do the right thing with regards to management especially when it comes to people's lives and careers…yes results are important, but relationships are more so. Overall its best to be secure in knowing WHO our results really come from in the first place.  

  2. In school, I took a course on procurement.  The main thing I took away from the course was, "You can't get a vendor to drop everything and have someone get in a truck and bring you a special order at the drop of the hat if you always hassle that vendor.  But if you have a relationship built on trust, not always going to the mat on every expense, and resonable expectations – that vendor will move mountains to make sure you get what you need."

    I think there's a focus on "this isn't our money so we have to be good stewards and squeeze blood out of the turnips" instead of "Jesus would take time and resources to bless others – and then make up for the time and make the resources go even further than before."


  3. I used to be really goal oriented.  A pastor-friend of mine helped me to see this side of me and advised me to always put people before the project.  I've learned that sometimes putting people before the project means the project takes longer or is not done as well as originally hoped.  At the end of the day, month and year the project will rarely be remembered but the people always will be.

  4. Great thoughts Phil. I wonder if the church's acceptance of the business-type model of church leadership led in large part to a greater move away from relationships to results. It seemed to me that the more we focused on results the more we took out the human equation. People sometimes became doormats to walked on or ladders to be used. I may be missing it here but am I wrong? I hope that I will always put the relationship before results (least the ones that matter)

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