There was a time (unfortunately not all that long ago) where the way you got things done didn’t matter all that much. There was so much emphasis placed upon the “bottom line” that the methods you employed to deliver those results received tangential attention at best. Did the ends justify the means? No doubt! All you really had to do to answer that question was look at the way most organizations systematically managed performance. Typically, 80% of an employee’s discretionary bonus was a function of delivering “the what,” while 20% (at best) hinged upon “the how.”
Today, we expect more! The pressure to deliver results has not gone anywhere (massive understatement!) but the scrutiny placed on how those results are produced bears limited resemblance to years gone by. Managers are assessed not only on their ability to hit production targets but also on their impact on employee engagement and retention. Individual Contributors are assessed not only on their technical skills and functional mastery but also on the way they work with their peers and demonstrate leadership in the absence of formal authority. It is no longer so much about the ends justifying the means … it is comparatively about the means effectively contributing to the ends.
If you want to get a first-hand sense for all of this, pay particular attention to the way you (and those you work with) solve problems. Say you have an important decision to make regarding the completion of a high-visibility project and time is of the essence. Take the quality of the eventual decision you must make and put it to the side. Focus on how effectively everyone in the trenches making that decision channels their emotions. Do differences of opinion become “personal?” Do people “get hooked” and set up “win- lose” battles that serve to sabotage short- and long-term effectiveness?
Consider (in that context) that developing and eventually perfecting “your how” will serve to make “your future what’s” far less challenging!