Focus on Results (What > How)

A mentor of mine shared an interesting piece of advice on managing others. It went:

“When managing others, focus on the results that you want done, not how you want the work done.”

This piece of advice is useful for a number of reasons:

  1. It scopes your focus on tangible, business outcomes.
  2. It empowers your team to be happier, more productive individuals.

Let’s look at these in more detail…

1. Tangible, Meaningful Results.

Ideally, each individual is an expert in their topic and in a much better position to determine ‘how to get something done’. By allowing your team to decide the ‘how’, they can leverage their technical expertise and ultimately, get ‘the job done’ in the best way possible.

Your job is to communicate ‘what needs to get done’ (outcomes) and ‘why’, so that your team has the context necessary to understand the customer’s need, consider trade-offs, make decisions and deliver the best results.

tl;dr Better Work

2. Empowered, Happy Team Members

When you let your team members take ownership of ‘how to get a job done’, you enrich the work by adding the opportunity to be creative and responsible. When individuals feel ownership over their results, they are empowered do their best work.

Empowered individuals are happier individuals.

Happier individuals produce better results.

tl;dr Happier team.


By focusing on the ‘what’ (tangible, business result) and not the ‘how’, you empower your team to be creative, to leverage their problem solving and technical expertise, to take ownership and be accountable; and produce happier, better work.

Further interested? Check out Abby’s “Complex Nature of Why, What & How“…


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