Great Leaders Do Both

Today’s article is the eighth in a series learning from the book by Paul Smith, Lead With A Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives that Captivate, Convince, and Inspire.


In chapter 14, the author tells an impactful story about a talented and highly successful CFO named Sara who, along with her team, completed a company-wide, mission-critical, very difficult project in record time.


Not long after the critical project was completed, Sara received the annual employee satisfaction results for her department. They were not good. In fact, the results were the worst in the company. Sara was soon in the CEO’s office for a discussion regarding the poor employee satisfaction results.


The CEO’s opening statement was “You’re not leading well, Sarah.”


Reflecting on the critically important project that was completed in record time, Sarah responded, “Which do you want—great results, or happy people?”


The CEO’s simple, yet profound response was, “GREAT LEADERS DO BOTH.”


Is it difficult to accomplish both? No question about it!


Is it possible to accomplish both? Absolutely!


I happen to know a thing or two about the difficulty and importance of accomplishing both. While at VHA, America’s largest national healthcare alliance, the area for which I was responsible ranked number one in employee satisfaction as well as number one in customer satisfaction. Not in just one office or one geographical location, but on a national, company-wide basis.


No one said it is easy, but it can be done!


What about your leadership—and the leadership of those you lead?


Are you so focused on important, or even mission-critical projects that you fail to lead well? Do leaders within your organization make a distinction between “great results, or happy people?”


As the CEO or senior leader, your expectation and response should always be, “GREAT LEADERS DO BOTH.”



NielsenCopyright © 2013 by Dan Nielsen –

National Institute for Healthcare Leadership –

America’s Healthcare Leaders –

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