Leadership is similar to a coin in that it has two sides... both of which are needed to make up the sum of it's value.
- Leading the business (i.e. strategic and tactical decisions that drive the direction of the team, department or organization)
- Leading the people within the business (i.e. getting the best from them through maximum engagement)
With regards to leading the business, most strategic and tactical decisions must also take into in account the people involved. Not just logistical matters such as skillsets, locations, schedules etc... but also issues like their mindset, cooperation between departments and teamwork.
Leading the people (in the business) is key to any successful team, project or venture. This requires that the leaders ensure others feel valued and have a high self-esteem. They ensure team members manage their differences and are open to receiving and giving feedback to improve the overall success of the team. This in turn breeds motivation and openness between team members who are now much more efficient and productive.
When a team is effective and productive the leader is seen as doing their job
☼ All of this actually leads to an increase in leadership traits of all members of the team... and as Tom Peters said "Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders"
So how do you measure leadership? At the top of the organizational structure that is likely to be revenue, profits, stock price, awards, etc.... But again those are determined by the sum of the parts – i.e. the departments, teams and individuals that make up the organization.
Departments and teams are often measured by looking at tangible metrics such as sales targets and staff turnover. Those are usually symptoms of factors such as motivation, culture or conflict within the department or team which are the direct responsibility of the team leader.
Because a leader should be someone that others look up to, trust and would go the extra mile for, the best way to measure this is not by asking for subjective feedback on the leader's skills and style. It is infinitely better to adopt an approach that establishes to what extent the individual employee and team needs are being met.
Experience shows that satisfied, fulfilled employees:
- Are highly motivated
- Feel valued, appreciated and rewarded
- See the value of different opinions and ideas
- Enjoy receiving (and giving) regular feedback
- Are approachable and open to new ideas from others
- Feel empowered to take ownership for their needs being met
- Can challenge and disagree while keeping rapport with colleagues
When these types of needs are met, employees are happy and more engaged. And by frequently measuring these criteria at the local level (individual and team) we can get a leadership health-check, which then lets the leader, employee and team make highly targeted improvements.
A leader can definitely be measured (and held accountable) for the levels of Employee Engagement within his or her team.
☼ Former navy-seal, leadership coach and author Jeff Boss said in Entrepreneur "This is a no-brainer: Every leader, every CEO wants engaged employees. After all, an engaged employee is a happy employee, and happy employees produce."
Unfortunately, most leadership development and improvement initiatives fail to deliver because either the style is inappropriate or people are not willing to engage with it. Leadership development needs more than a quick injection of methodologies and techniques.
For example, sending management on expensive (yet generic) leadership development programs simply perpetuates the notion that leadership is for the few and is something granted from above. Hence the employees see little value to them and it can actually disenfranchise them further.
Meanwhile, lengthy and costly engagement surveys (that employees hear nothing back about for months) also propagate the idea that leadership simply cherry-picks a couple of companywide quick-hits to implement – i.e. they are viewed as management agenda items.
While both of these are done with good intentions, they can actually lead to skepticism, mistrust and uncertainty among the workforce. This in turn leads to low morale and productivity but high absenteeism and turnover.
Leadership needs ongoing attention/monitoring and is best done as a partnership with those being led.
The majority of today's employees (at all levels) don't just want the theory of how to build a better workplace culture espoused to them by management. They want to be part of it....
They want to work with leadership to transform and shape their workplace culture through engaging activities rather than have management inform them of what they are going to do. And when given the autonomy (under standard business operating rules) the workforce will usually be very committed to cause.
The key is to have employees ask
"What am I going to do about it?"
"What is management going to do about it?"
Empowering everyone to participate in the transformation will yield exponentially better results than simply saddling them with information.
And with a leader championing this idea...
- Employees are more engaged.
- Teams performance and productivity increases.
- Leaders get better at leading the people......while also instilling leadership qualities in everyone.
....so what are you waiting for?
I first wrote this article for the CrowdReviews Business-To-Business Blog