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Jun 21, 2012

The Two Outcomes of Effective Leaders

Posted by: Joy Klitzke - 06/21/2012 4:32 PM (Articles, Farm Equipment Industry, Lighting Showroom Industry, Marine Industry, Motorcoach Industry, Office Furniture Industry, Powersports Industry, RV Industry, Trailer Industry)

RVBusiness, May/June 2012
By David Spader, John Spader and Dr. Michael O’Connor

Try typing the topic “leadership” into Google. You are likely to receive more than a half billion hits. Anyone can choose to write articles, blogs or books with the claim they will enlighten or educate the rest of us. Opinions abound about the best leadership approach, style, personality and habits. How can we sort through all these messages to find those select few that are valuable and worth our time? A good place to start is to identify those specific key outcomes that mark higher-performing leaders.

Our experience in working with dealers for more than 30 years has taught us that a leader’s approach must produce two  outcomes:

1. Success

2. Fulfillment

In higher-performing companies, these outcomes are not separate but intertwined. Here is a look at each outcome to better understand how we can produce them as an effective leader.


The first outcome associated with an effective leader is success. Success is measured in terms of the results produced. While results might be assumed to be measured in dollars and cents, more effective leaders understand that results are important in both the financial and human objectives the organization needs to accomplish for stability and growth.

The harder-side, financial types of objectives are measured in terms of profitability, efficiencies, sales growth, etc. The softer-side, people-related objectives include competencies, productivity,  repeat business, etc. An effective leader delivers results across this wide spectrum of both financial and human areas in order to keep their company competitive and thriving in the rapidly changing and evolving marketplace. 

Here are a few questions to help you determine whether you are a leader that delivers success:

Stakeholder Group Ways to Measure Success
Customers Do our customers view us as more competent and capable than our competitors?
Employees Are our employees highly productive and do they continue to get better?
Owners Is our return on investment consistently strong during both positive and negative market conditions?
Community Do we positively contribute to the ongoing success of our community?
Business Partners Do our business partners (manufacturers, vendors and others) view us as a reliable and consistent performer?


The second outcome effective leaders deliver is fulfillment for its key stakeholder groups. By contrast with success, fulfillment is sometimes assumed to apply to the softer, people aspects of the business. However, as with success, fulfillment is a key outcome on both the people and financial sides of a business.

Economic fulfillment can be measured in terms of customer satisfaction, solid business exit strategies, sound leadership succession plans, etc. On the people side of the business, fulfillment may be measured in terms of satisfaction, commitment, loyalty, high morale and dedication.

Here are a few questions to help you determine whether you are a leader that delivers fulfillment:

Stakeholder Group Ways to Measure Fulfillment
Customers Are our customer relationships chracterized by extremely high satisfactin, loyalty, repeat business and trust that our competitors struggle to match?
Employees Do our employees demonstrate passion, commitment, loyalty and personal fulfillment? Do they enjoy coming to work every day?
Owners Do our owners model the behaviors and desired culture that strengthens our business? Do our owners have clear strategies for future fulfillment personally and for the organization?
Community Are we actively engaged in significant activities that strengthen our community while also providign employee fulfillment?
Business Partners Do our business partners view us as committed to their success as well as ours?

Our experience (and the mass of leadership advice available) indicates that most dealerships and leadership teams don’t consistently deliver both success and fulfillment. Leaders of organizations are often better at one than the other, with too many being no better than mediocre at either!

A dealership we recently worked with has been financially successful for several years. However, their leadership team expressed exasperation, despair and frustration. They weren’t finding meaning in their work, and this lack of fulfillment was obvious from their comment: “It just isn’t fun anymore.” Their organization was experiencing success without fulfillment. Over the longer term, without change their financial success is likely to reflect this lack of attention to these two critical, intertwined outcomes.

Compare that dealership to another in which the employees, leadership team and customers are quite happy and satisfied, even though their business stability is at risk. Most of their employees enjoy going to work and feel a deep commitment to both their company and their customers, but the company may go out of business if the level of success is not improved. If that happens, of course, without greater success, this pattern of fulfillment will crash.

The clearest path to sustained long-term dealership performance is characterized by leaders that deliver both success and fulfillment. The combination of these two key leadership outcomes may be your missing link.

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