On Leadership, Simplicity and Getting Results


In this ever-increasing age of complexity, there is within each of us a heart of desire for the simple. Certainly we look for ways to make our lives easier.

But easier and simpler do not always equate.

Easy is Not Simple

Just because we find something easy to do does not make it a simple task, in fact some of the easiest things to do matriculate through a highly complex set of steps or processes that cause many parts to fall into place.

Think of the ease of the act of simply scratching your nose. Now consider all of the body parts and systems that it takes in coordination in order for the task to be accomplished.

Easy and simple are not always the same.

It is easy to scratch one’s nose. However, it is no simple task.

Achieving Focus

The quote “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing,” has been attributed to many. If you look it up on the internet you might find that Honest Abe Lincoln is reported to be the originator, or maybe Mother Teresa.

Certainly it was popularized and most quoted by the late Stephen Covey. He distinguished between easy and simple. Simplicity is best described in the understanding of focus.

To adequately focus is to be able to simplify any process.

Again, it may be a challenging and complex task, but focusing allows us to simplify it into an accomplishable outcome.

Leadership and Simplicity

When we talk about leadership, I think one of the clarion calls of the leader is to simplify. I think resting squarely on the shoulders of leadership is the need to keep the outcome so focused that all who contribute to the process do so knowing what their role is and what they must do to fulfill that role.

Leadership is about:

  • Visioning
  • Aligning
  • Empowering
  • Guiding
  • Evaluating

All in order to take others along a journey that yields a common and desired end.

It is not easy, but if the leader is to succeed it must be made simple.

Focus is the Remedy

Getting to a place of common good where the desired results are achieved is the goal of every leader. Without focus, too many things can go wrong.

  • If the vision or tasks involved are too complex, the followers will abandon in confusion and frustration
  • If the journey is too random, the motivation to produce is lost
  • If the mission is too unclear, the buy–in of vision never takes place.

Focus and simplicity will get the job done.

Dirt Road Leadership

Growing up on the dirt road, I learned an important lesson that when you start a job, you need to finish that job. Other things may come up, but stay on task, keep focused and finish what you started.

This takes focus. This takes simplicity.

It is like the fellow at the circus that spins those plates on the stick. Pretty impressive really (you don’t think so – try it – but not with the good china), but once you reach a point of too many plates (non-simple) you start defeating the outcome.

We make things too complex all the time, but it doesn’t make sense to do this. We crowd our intended outcomes with extraneous and superfluous tasks.

To remedy this tendency, take some time today, focus on what really is important, strip away that which clutters and makes your life and leadership complex, and choose the simple route.

It may not be easy, but it will get the job done.

So what tasks or lists can you winnow down to help simplify your main objectives and help you achieve your goals sooner? How can  you make the journey more enjoyable and let confusing for your followers? What steps can you take today that will help you simply your life and the lives of the people who look to you for results? I would love to hear your thoughts!


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Dr. Dan Roberts
Dr. Dan Roberts is professor of Organizational Leadership at Point University
His teaches “If you desire to lead, you must decide to serve.”
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter |  Web | Skype: Danroberts531

Image Sources: appitive.com

Related articles


3 responses to “On Leadership, Simplicity and Getting Results

  1. As Albert Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” The goal or objective is not likely going to change, but process utilized in accomplishing that mission, and the execution of actions and tasks, must be as simple as possible. But, if those processes, procedures or actions are modified to a lower level to make it ‘simpler’ to the point of diminishing results, the outcomes may be less than desirable. Too often we change the objective because we cannot lead our people, processes or procedures in a simple way, without lowering the bar. Sometimes, the bar level cannot change; it’s absolute and solid. Keep it simple, but kee the absolute goal in mind.


  2. Thanks Dale, for you insight. It is a shame when we lose sight of the objective because of the details!


Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s