February 12, 2013

Results, Relationships, Process

A few years ago, I attended a collaborative leadership training led by the Interaction Institute for Social Change. The training was a short, two-day intensive course which left me, and perhaps a few others, feeling like they’d just finished drinking from a fire hydrant. By the end of the training, I wasn’t quite sure whether I’d been helped or simply weighed down with new vocabulary and a very large binder.

Nearly two years later, I can say that the training was truly helpful to me. Time after time, I’ve found myself returning to some of the key concepts of that training and have incorporated a few of the most important ones into my day-to-day work at the Episcopal Church Foundation. In this blog post, I’ll focus on what I consider to be the most important concept that I gained from the training. This has to do with learning to balance one's work across three areas: results, process, and relationships. I’ve added some questions to clarify what is meant by these terms.

  • Results: What are the most important projects and deadlines that your leadership team must meet in order to be effective? Are there projects that shouldn’t be on that list?
  • Process: What are the formal and informal ways your leadership team realizes its major goals and deadlines? Are there better or more efficient ways to accomplish these goals? Is it time to change the way things have always been done?
  • Relationships: Are the members of your leadership team working well together? What relationships with outside organizations will help your team work more effectively? Are you engaging all stakeholders when making key decisions?

Results, Process, and Relationships in Real-Time
Over time, I’ve come to appreciate that balancing the focus across all three can be very difficult in the day-to-day. It’s easy to forget about the importance of cultivating relationships when major deadlines are breathing down your neck. It can be tempting to ignore the inefficiencies of a convoluted process because change frequently feels harder in the short-term. It’s in moments like these that I think it’s especially helpful to have a reminder about the importance of all three.

I’ve since written the three key words on my whiteboard in large script. This has ultimately led to some humorous moments in which colleagues will occasionally point to a word (in my case, it’s usually “relationships”) to remind me of the importance of what they’re talking about. In this sense, it’s changed - and improved - how our entire team works together. I hope it will do the same for you.