Our performance as a leader is rarely assessed on a consistent basis, if at all; yet we expect our managers and teams to be held to account regularly; monitoring a range of KPIs, OKRs or bespoke metrics that give us a performance picture. If you are leading as part of a larger organisation, you will certainly be measured against the output of your teams. It is unlikely however that you are receiving constant feedback or benchmark on your leadership input. As a leader of your own business, time taken to measure your own performance may well sound like a luxury you cannot afford.
Great leaders are always looking for opportunities to learn. Adding to the lessons from your own experience by embracing the advice of others is key to personal development. However, without a point of measure we can’t really understand whether what we are doing is working, needs improvement or needs to be left alone altogether. So how do we create a level playing field that ensures we are all following the same model?
Perform – Measure – Learn – Realign – Perform
Firstly, look at a sensible time frame to assess. I have discussed previously how you are allowed to have bad days as a leader, so a daily measure will likely bring too much contradictory information. Always best to stay in a consistent pattern with those in your teams and their feedback. Most companies look at weekly review as being a timely interval for assessment before planning the next week’s activities and input. As a leader I have always found this to be a useful point to reflect.
Only taking the binary approach of asking whether you have had a good week or a bad week, will miss key factors and mislead you in reaction. The results may have implied a good week, yet your own leadership input could have been below par. Alternatively output may have been low but the leadership investment you have delivered across the board has been superb and will lead to future successes.
The key is to break down the components of leadership into the areas you believe will ensure you are delivering consistently in your role as leader. You can choose your own measures as you will know what works best for you or where you need to be held accountable. However, here are some suggestions of core leadership competencies that should be considered:
1.Coaching & Mentoring
How many people did you help this week? As a leader your input is valued and your time a precious commodity. Others realise this and will not only benefit from the specific advice you offer but be motivated by the fact you have taken the time to do so.
2. Personal Development
What did you learn this week? Every leader must be committed to ongoing learning and development for both themselves and their teams. Assess your learning in two categories. Proactive learning: where you choose to read, attend a course or study a specific subject. Reactive learning: where you learn from your experiences; both positive and negative.
Did you consistently behave in a way that reinforced the culture you believe is right for the business? Were you authentic? People follow you for a reason. They choose to be influenced by you and your behaviours are a visible example of how to ‘be’ at work. Your consistent leadership behaviour will echo throughout your business.
4. Communication: Listening
Have you listened to those around you? Knowing we have been heard inspires us to think more, create and speak again. As a leader your listening skills are not just for understanding content or context, but as a catalyst to further input. Search out the opportunity to hear the voices of your teams.
5. Communication: Message
Have you sent out clear information around direction, strategy and action? Your clarity of message is vital for your business. You help with understanding, realignment and reassurance in direction of travel. Don’t be silent.
Build a model (simple is fine) where you can record your weekly scores. The idea is firstly not to miss anything. As leaders, time runs away and reacting to situational challenges pulls us from the proactive path of our choice. Secondly it is about building the habits of good leadership. If you know you are going to hold yourself accountable for each area at the end of the week, you will start focusing on these components without having to think about it. Finally, a weekly measure allows you to look at where you need to develop your skill set further. Specific assessment of your leadership input and output will allow you to choose areas for personal growth and keep you moving forward.
Of course, there are many other components to consider when developing as a leader, however those mentioned above, if measured and worked on weekly, will consistently move you forward in your leadership role.
“You have to look at leadership through the eyes of the followers and you have to live the message. What I have learned is that people become motivated when you guide them to the source of their own power and when you make heroes out of employees who personify what you want to see in the organisation.” Anita Roddick
One final note. I have always been of the opinion that leadership is a behaviour not a job title. If you are an aspiring leader or unsure whether it is for you, these metrics are a useful guide. If you find yourself doing most of these things naturally in your week, you are a leader, regardless of your current role accountabilities. If you believe they are things you can and want to deliver, you have a leader inside you that you must now feed.