Driving action for the sake of action can do more harm than taking no action at all. In the final analysis, you—the executive—will be judged by the results you produce. Mastering the art of driving results will allow you to rapidly advance your career.

How to Drive Results as an Executive

1. Increase Intensity toward Driving Results

Businessman driving results through an intense discussion with a coworkerYour stakeholders expect you to motivate others to make things happen, and will call you to account for your team’s results as well as your own.

It is critical for you to create a sense of urgency while managing a myriad of often conflicting priorities. You must get your team on board with your goals to do this. It’s up to you to increase their sense of buy-in, motivate them, and hold them accountable.

2. Develop Strategies to Better Hit Numbers

Driving results is not about using brute force. There is a finesse to this process that makes it as much an art as a science. It’s also about having a strategy. You need to have strategies in place to hit the numbers by which you’re measured.

Almost everything in business comes down to metrics. Even in HR, which is all about people, there are still metrics quantifying things like employee engagement, onboarding success, and turnover rates, to name a few. With customers, we measure our Net Promoter Score, and with sales, we track revenue goals. Finance measures revenue, profit, net operating income, and more.

It is your role to develop strategies for better hitting numbers. Those who can do this get to stay and keep driving better results. Those who can’t, rarely keep their position.

A high competence in driving results involves understanding numbers and what they mean. It also means knowing how to direct action to improve results. There must be strategy that moves results from their current state to an improved state, and effective executives know how to do this. You don’t simply watch trends—you create them with positive momentum.

3. Drive Your Own Performance

Confident businesswomanOne major mark of a top executive is self-drive. You must be a self-motivated, internally driven self-starter. You shouldn’t need anyone watching over you to ensure you drive yourself and others.

Taiichi Ohno, co-creator of the Toyota Production System (which later led to Lean methodology), wrote, “Progress cannot be generated when we are satisfied with existing situations.” High achievers challenge the status quo and drive results in doing so. Therefore, watch metrics, take quick, right actions, and hold yourself and others accountable. By doing this, you will drive significant results.

4. Increase Standards for Personal Achievement

Increasing standards for personal achievement means constantly raising the bar for yourself, expecting greater achievements and better results. CANI (constant and never-ending improvement) is the rallying cry.

A high competency in driving results means having high standards for your own performance. You cannot remain comfortable with the status quo, or you won’t last long.

You should apply these same standards for personal achievement to your organization. Regard your company as being in a race—against the market, your competitors, and the future. Strive for organizational CANI—more profit, more efficiency, more harmony, faster onboarding, fewer defects, increased safety, etc. You do this by creating KPIs, monitoring metrics, and constantly adjusting for further improvement.

For both yourself and your organization, nothing will drive results like CANI.

Why Does Driving Results Matter?

Driving results is one of the primary requirements of an executive. Action without intentional results is useless. If you’re merely spinning your wheels, you won’t get anywhere—and won’t last long. Metrics will prove your competency or incompetency.

Executives with high competency in Driving Results have mastered the ability to intensify drive, hit numbers, and increase standards for achievement for themselves and their team. They drive continual improvement, create a sense of urgency, and hold themselves and others accountable for results.

Developing This Strength

To develop this strength, you need to look at your own internal motivation and drive, and the strategies you have created to increase your intensity, drive performance, develop accountability, and constantly improve. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. To what degree am I driven to achieve?
  2. Do I have strategies to create urgency in my team and lead them to getting results?
  3. How effective am I at understanding KPIs and driving action toward success?
  4. How effective am I at holding myself accountable for getting results?
  5. How effective am I at holding my team accountable?

You can further develop this strength by researching relevant articles online, as well as by reading such books as Getting Results, by Clinton Longenecker and Jack Simonetti, and Results-Based Leadership, by Dave Ulrich, Jack Zenger and Norm Smallwood.

Finally, you can enlist a coach to help you increase your intensity, develop better goal-attainment strategies, drive your performance, and increase your standards. I would be happy to provide you with complimentary executive coaching in this area or any other. If you are a genuine CEO or senior executive,  schedule the first of several complimentary coaching sessions.

About This Competency

SOLID Execution competency highlighted in wheel diagramDriving Results is one of 50 competencies SOLID has identified as critical to executive success. It is considered an Execution competency within our 5-category executive competency model, which is explained and downloadable at the end of this article. Overall, executives are responsible for, and must be competent at:

E3. DRIVING RESULTS: Increasing intensity toward driving results; developing strategies to better hit numbers; driving own performance; increasing standards for personal achievement.

About Our Competency Model

SOLID Executive Competencies: What It Takes to Be an ExecutiveThe SOLID Competency Model is based on two decades of research. It is founded on the premise that all executive competencies can be categorized into these five groupings: Core Character, Execution, Relationship, Management and Leadership. Executives must master all five categories to achieve excellence in their roles. This model is useful for gauging and quantifying your skillset, understanding what it takes to be an effective executive, and providing a framework for improving performance. For more information, download “SOLID Executive Competencies: What It Takes to Be an Executive.”Eliminate Executive Blind Spots ebook

Looking constructively at yourself isn’t easy, but doing so provides the catalyst for transformational change. Having a balanced, objective look at your skillset and a willingness to be self-critical for the sake of continuous improvement is a major marker of a top executive. Take the next step and download “Eliminate Executive Blind Spots” to explore your strengths and weaknesses, and remove any blind spots you may have.

About the Author

Daniel Mueller in a light blue dress shirt against a blue backgroundDaniel Mueller was one of the earliest pioneers of executive coaching. Since helping to establish the industry in the 1980s, he has provided tens of thousands of hours of one-on-one coaching to over 1,500 senior executives. Daniel lives in Austin, Texas and is happily married to Patty. Learn more in Daniel Mueller’s bio.