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Senior Correspondent

Average leaders feel successful when they get things done.

Exceptional leaders feel successful when they build exceptional places to work.

Average leaders fix and do. Exceptional leaders build.

You begin thinking leadership is all about results but come to learn it’s about the way we treat each other. Results matter, but how you achieve results matters more. “Results only” is the formula for toxicity.

When all that matters are the numbers,
eventually, people don’t matter.

Great places to work are about the way things get done.

How not what:

Exceptional leaders focus on how.

  1. How are we connecting?
  2. How do we support each other?
  3. How does the team feel?
  4. How is respect expressed?

Exceptional leaders define “the way” things get done. Courageous leaders challenge back-stabbing and office politics, for example. They say, “That’s not the way we do things around here.”


Organizations that neglect how things get done become lousy places to work. Frankly, soft-skills are hard. When was the last time you worked on:

  1. Breaking silos. People in other departments aren’t the enemy.
  2. Confronting rudeness, anger, or disrespect.
  3. Creating cross-functional connections.
  4. Good manners.
  5. Compassionate interactions.
  6. Morale.
  7. Happiness. Organizations that don’t work on happiness end up unhappy.


The next time colleagues put each other down, step in and say, “We don’t do that around here.”

Toxic environments are the result of tolerating toxicity.

What you won’t tolerate is only part of the picture. Define and model what you expect, as well. Courageous leader define the “way we do things around here.” Finally, act decisively to honor or punish. Terminate unrepentant jerks and reward kindness, for example.


  1. Define the way you do things.
  2. Hire people who fit.
  3. Fire people who don’t fit.
  4. Reward desired behaviors even if they don’t deliver results directly.

Success is more than what gets done, it’s how things get done, too.

How can leaders define “the way we do things?”

How would you build a connected organization?

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