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Focus on Performance – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

Business observers often bemoan the tendency of corporate managements to focus on short-term performance at the expense of long-term results. What some have labeled “short-termism” tends to be particularly prevalent in publicly-traded companies, since management knows it will be judged daily by shareholders through their buying and selling activity in the stock market. Moreover, executive compensation is often geared toward current financial results thereby reinforcing short-term thinking.

To achieve long-term success in life and business, we need to pay attention to both long-term and short-term considerations. After all, we typically achieve major strategic goals through a series of intermediate steps. For example, the management of one not-for-profit on whose board I serve has created a three year strategic plan that identifies several important long-term goals. They have broken these into rolling semi-annual milestones to keep themselves on track and the board apprised of their progress.

Subject to balancing the tension between short- and long-term goals, a focus on performance against goals often produces great success for marketplace leaders in their business endeavours. It does not always work well in family matters. From personal experience, “CEO behaviour” at home seldom produces good outcomes!

A performance-based business philosophy sometimes leads marketplace leaders (even those who are followers of Jesus) to act as though God judges us based upon performance. After all, it is only natural to assume, implicitly if not explicitly, that spiritual success is attained through our performance. In fact, this assumption underlies virtually all religious systems.

Success is not always attained through performance.

According to the Bible, however, this assumption is not true. If it were, none of us would measure up, since the standards of the God of the Bible are so far above ours as to be impossible to achieve. The good news is that God sent His son in human form to reconcile us to Himself by paying the penalty we deserve for not living up to His standards.

Some of you have not yet received God’s free offer of forgiveness through faith in Jesus. If that is you, I encourage you to try one of our marketplace leader peer groups, which provide a safe venue for exploring life’s deep issues.

In my experience, most leaders seem to operate on the assumption that they are living moral lives and therefore have no need of forgiveness. Andy Stanley, a well-known pastor and author, addresses this assumption in his short book, “How Good Is Good Enough.” Alternatively, marketplace leaders procrastinate on the assumption they will get around to looking into this question some day when they are less busy. Unfortunately, that day often never arrives. The best day to encounter Jesus is today! Jesus said,

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.