A big question – how do you know if you are leading effectively?
Before you dive in to answer this, we are not talking here about the small group of business ‘leaders’ at the top of the organisational pyramid, those responsible for setting the vision and strategy, for creating the values and identity and designing the operational engine.
We are talking about those leaders of teams, or groups of teams – those who are responsible for guiding, persuading, pushing, directing, empowering and enabling people within any organisation to drive individual and collective performance and potential, and ultimately to drive the business strategy.
At a recent advanced Leadership session that we ran, we asked each delegate to share their thoughts on a few questions the most notable being:
“How do you know that you are doing the job effectively”
The responses included several focusing on Leadership KPIs such as engagement survey results, talent retention and promotion. Some focused on financial KPIs such as fees, profitability and cash generation. All strong and valid measures.
We then drilled down further – what is it about you and what you do that is having such an impact? Immediately one delegate confidently stated:
“Quite simply, my team look up to me, they follow me. I am the focal point and provide the leadership. Without me, they are rudderless so that’s how I know I am so effective at what I do”.
There were quite a few nods in agreement. Interesting….
Now if the key measure of effective leadership is the creation of followers then I understand. Being a great mentor, role model, creating clear channels of communication and providing precise direction can help achieve this.
But, if we see and treat people as ‘followers’ then one major problem is that whilst we are trying to look forward, to see around corners, to lead from the front, we are having to constantly turn our heads to make sure the team are behind you, that they understand what to do and have the tools and resources to do it.
And if followers see themselves as ‘followers’ then what is the danger? Quite simply they will be stopping short, they will always be a few steps behind. There is little incentive for them to use all of their strengths, to stretch themselves to achieve their potential to use their initiative. Some may hide knowing that they don’t have to take responsibility or make decisions – they just need to be ready to follow yours.
Going back to the Leadership session, as soon as the previous delegate had sat down, another stood up and said:
“I have probably got this totally wrong but I think I’m effective in my role as a leader because while I’m here today I will not be missed. The team are more than capable of dealing with everything and anything”.
A perfect statement in our humble opinion. Jack Welch regularly spoke about the importance of developing a leadership culture, about developing teams of leaders as opposed to followers.
This is about leading from the centre and facilitating the performance and growth of people towards delivering excellence, servicing clients and driving the business. It is about clarifying outcomes but creating space for people to grow into through delegation with clear demonstration of trust. It is about creating ‘ownership’ within teams through empowering them, enabling them to execute and through coaching them to help them find their own solutions.
Creating teams of leaders will accelerate your business success. You just then need to simply keep them pointed in the right direction.