What gets measured gets managed/done/improved. This business adage has been burned into the psyche of all business people worth their salt. There is a lot of truth to the saying. As business people, we are very comfortable measuring our performance in sales and production. We’re sophisticated enough to measure our return on investment (ROI) on marketing spends. We regularly measure employee engagement. Somehow, though, we don’t think to measure leadership effectiveness. And sadly, too often we don’t think to invest in it either, despite it being one of the most effective levers we have to drive business growth.
Are you someone who thinks that leadership is too squishy (highly technical term) to measure?
That may have been the case years ago when we relied on self-reported changes or anecdotal feedback. These days, we need to measure leadership effectiveness because the measurement itself drives the right behaviours. Having a baseline and measuring change in leadership effectiveness can be a total game changer for a business.
For our money, a reliable and validated 360˚ survey dedicated to leadership development, is the investment to make. We use the Leadership Circle Profile™, and find it one of the major contributors to break-through success with our clients. In our leadership development programs, every leader undergoes a 360. The profile lays bare a leader’s gifts and deficiencies with solid data and qualitative feedback that is hard to deny. The data comes from the leader’s bosses, peers, direct reports and others. It is then normed against a very large database of other profiles so that leaders can see how they measure up. Leaders get a rare glimpse into how they “show up” through the lens of those they lead. This is a true gift.
Let’s look at some real-world clients to better understand. We currently work with an entire senior team. They are in a period of very fast growth and increasing complexity in their business. We have met together over the course of a year, and each leader also receives 1:1 coaching.
One leader has long seen him/herself as someone who got results and moved the business forward with energy and drive and technical know-how. The perception was accurate to an extent. The 360 revealed that the business results came at the cost of people feeling talked at, run over and sometimes railroaded. We credit this leader for not assuming the fetal position in the face of the feedback! S/he had the mental toughness to accept the data as true and an open-mindedness and curiosity great enough to plot a new course and commit to practicing a new way of leading for results. This leader has just completed a targeted leadership development plan and identified a goal of becoming a more collaborative leader. To do this, s/he will start delegating tasks more fully, and stop interrupting and talking over people. This simple, yet challenging plan, would not have been possible without the insights gleaned from the 360 data.
The next leader is the polar opposite. This leader felt s/he achieved good business results because of excellent relationships with people. Instead, the emerging story from the survey was one of playing not-to-lose and avoiding conflict. The blind spot for this leader was how much their non-confrontational leadership style hindered their ability to achieve business results. Over time, reflection, and some coaching, this leader went from ramping up his/her own delusions to facing the reality of how s/he were perceived. This leader has set a goal to clearly assert ideas even when it is uncomfortable to do so. S/he will practice asserting thoughts and feelings in real time. S/he will also work on reducing second-guessing and self-doubt.
With this group, we are now embarking on the next phase of measurement called Pulse™. Each leader has selected a group of people to form his/her Accountability Circle. The Circle knows the leader’s developmental goal and his/her start and stop behavior goals. Every few months, we’ll send a very short survey to the Accountability Circle to take the pulse of how s/he are growing as leaders. These measurements along the way are like quarterly sales reports. They offer leaders a nearly real-time assessment of how well they are doing against their goals.
Both client stories illustrate how accurate measurement of leadership effectiveness offers deep insight to drive effective leadership behaviours. Leadership measurement can be as rigorous as measuring sales results, production efficiencies or marketing ROI. Don’t forget: What gets measured, gets improved. Leadership effectiveness is directly correlated to business results (and yes, we’ll write a future post with more on that subject).
Can you really afford not to measure leadership effectiveness well?
Tim Edris of Emerging Leaders Institute and Lisa Chandler of Chandler Coaches are leadership development consultants/coaches whose companies collaborate to improve leadership effectiveness which drives business results.
Leadership Development in the Trenches is a series dedicated to examples of leadership actions that grow business effectiveness. You can read the previous post, Risking Your Identity to Grow, here.