In today´s world, there appears to be a tremendous emphasis on getting results. The means have become subordinate to the desired end. That is, the means are seen as relevant only to the extent that they support the achievement of the desired end. This, I believe, is a mistake.
Yes, results are important but not obsession with it. If we reflect for a moment, it will become evident that achieving any result is not really within our control. We can definitely influence the achievement of the desired results, but influence is not synonymous to control. The materialisation of any results is the work of numerous variables, some within our control, some not; in fact, there could well be variables that we may not even be aware of. So obsession with getting results can easily end in despair and desperation. This is one reason why obsession with results is unwise. There is a more important reason.
When we prioritise the end over the means, we tread in the quicksand of intense desire. In our zealousness to get the results, we become willing to take even harmful means to get there; harmful to ourselves or to others. We cut corners here, we say a lie there, we hide relevant information from our clients, or we exaggerate to promote ourselves. After all, we are driven by a need to get the results at almost any cost. Instead of insisting on win-win solutions, we become comfortable with win-lose solutions, as long as we are the winners. Business that are run with this attitude can make big profits but are unlikely to last in the long run or become great brands. Even if they do, the crack in their ethical foundation leaves their people ultimately unfulfilled. Why? Because it is based on the erroneous assumption that our happiness can be independent of the happiness of others.
A different approach to conducting business is to be value-based, principle-centred. In this way, results are important not because they have to be obtained at any cost, but because they set the direction for our efforts. After all, reaching New Delhi requires a different direction from getting to New York. Once the direction is set, a value-based business focuses on the means to get there. This is based on the belief that the only real control we ultimately have is over our actions. Our greatest responsibility is to take responsibility of our actions simply because that is what we control. When we focus on our actions, rather on the achievement of the desired results, we become acutely aware how our actions can help or harm us and others. As our wisdom of the effects of our actions grows, we become more and more value-based. We become conscious that non-harming actions have a beauty of their own, are deeply fulfilling, and are a reward unto themselves. From this arises the realisation that striving for win-win solutions are so much more satisfying. This leads to harmony, non-greed, contentment. The inevitable result of this is the good of all.
What leadership path will you choose for your business?