Facilitative Leadership: Balancing the Dimensions of Success

by Jamie Harris

As the newly elected Chairman of the Board at Interaction Associates, I am thinking a lot about how the principles of Facilitative Leadership apply to this new role. 

Facilitative Leaders are strategic, self-aware, and highly collaborative people with practical skills and processes to help build understanding and agreement to produce business results.  Because organizational leadership is increasingly complex and dependent on the best thinking and commitment of everyone, it’s vitally important for leaders to consider the multiple dimensions of organizational and team success.

Facilitative Leaders consider that, to be sustainable, success must be measured equally across three important dimensions: results, process, and relationship (RPR). Because leaders are accountable for results, they typically tend to focus their attention more or less exclusively on results. But a single-minded focus on results, and consequent inattention to how the work gets done and the quality of relationships, can undermine the organization’s ability to produce results sustainably. A key differentiator of the Facilitative Leader is the intention and ability to maintain a balanced view of what “success” really looks like; that is, paying balanced attention to all three dimensions. [RPR]

Just to clarify the RPR model:

Results refers to the accomplishment of the task, or achievement of the goal. Process means how the work gets done, how it is designed and managed, and how it is measured and evaluated. Relationship refers to the quality of peoples’ experience in relating to colleagues, customers, and the organization, including importantly, the level of trust and respect people exhibit for each other and the organization.

When leaders think about success on all three dimensions of RPR, they operate with a different and more comprehensive set of goals and measures in both planning and monitoring what needs to be done. The dimensions of the RPR model are usually interdependent and inform one other. For example, the "process" and "relationship" dimensions are often leading indicators of what you can expect in terms of "results." Can you imagine expecting strong results when either process or relationships have broken down?  People who do not trust each other or do not agree on how to work together, cannot be expected to accomplish excellent results consistently. And if people are unclear or in disagreement about the results they are seeking, they often will adopt different approaches and processes leading to conflicts that break down trust and respect for each other.

Balanced focus on all three dimensions of RPR contributes to a more satisfying work experience, a higher level of productivity, sustainable results, and more engagement -- because people are more aligned on goals and how they will work together, and they feel valued and respected. Leaders will find that a deep grounding in RPR also helps them navigate the ebbs and flows of role changes, promotions, or new responsibilities. RPR lays out the principles to consider when you are taking on a new leadership responsibility in the organization as I have just done.

So here some thoughts I have about RPR in relation to my new role as Chairman of Interaction Associates Board of Directors:

RESULTS: The Chair of the Board must be a strong partner to executive management in holding to the values, vision and mission of the company at the same time the Board holds management accountable for business results. The Board will help our management to assure that company business goals and objectives are clear and measurable.

PROCESS: The Board should be an effective sounding board for management to support long range and strategic level thinking by the executive team, while giving management the “rope” they need to manage the business efficiently. This role entails more than just setting the agenda and leading board meetings. It requires actively reaching out to management, employees and stakeholders to inquire and engage. It requires more listening than telling, and a firm commitment to objectivity, strategic focus and role clarity. Our decision-making processes need to be constantly clarified for those impacted by Board decisions.

RELATIONSHIP: Collaborate with company management, sales and marketing and our tremendous consultants and service delivery people, to help nurture strong and lasting relationships across the company, and with key customers and other stakeholders (our partners, bank, distributors). This implies a level of transparency that will stimulate mutual trust and respect among all stakeholders.  

The practice of balancing focus on all three dimensions of RPR is as demanding as any other leadership practice. Having a simple and easy model to remember helps, but it still requires constant attention and effort. I am looking forward to the challenge in my new role in service of our company, and all of our great clients around the world.

Tags : dimensions of success leadership leadership development success