To lead people, you can tell them what you want them to do and then assess the outcome. Did they perform well? Are the results satisfactory?
But there’s a problem with that approach: Employees may deliver the desired outcome but make judgment errors along the way. True leaders don’t just focus on the results; they also examine the process itself.
Here’s an example:
Newly minted surgeons learn their trade by working with a supervising doctor. One of the first rules that new surgeons must follow is “no surprises”—they must inform their supervisor of all relevant facts related to a patient who’s about to go under the knife.
If trainees hide their mistakes or fail to convey every bit of important information to their supervising attending surgeon, it can lead to disaster. This also applies if they’re not tracking the latest developments relating to a patient’s care or condition.
The best medical teachers don’t just judge whether a new surgeon made the proper incisions. They also evaluate to what extent the young practitioner demonstrated concern for patients and communicated fully about the situation at hand.
— Adapted from The Up Side of Down, Megan McArdle, Viking.