Leadership isn’t a formula. It’s an art. The ability of flawed and inherently limited humans to lead others like them toward a common goal takes a special skill set. Even if a leader has the talents required to lead a business, that doesn’t mean they’ll immediately see positive results. Good leaders know that they need to find ways to step out of their egos and truly see themselves from a rational, unbiased perspective.
If you’re a leader that is struggling to remove the blinders, here are some ways to help you accurately measure your leadership effectiveness — as well as a few tips to address any shortcomings you might discover along the way.
1. Measure the right metrics
Sometimes the simplest reason a leader can’t assess themselves is that they aren’t aware of the tools required to gain an accurate measurement. Here are several metrics that can help you take that step back and assess how well you’re leading:
- Company profitability: The ability of your company to turn a profit is ground zero for leadership effectiveness.
- Objectives and KPIs: Strategic benchmarks aren’t just set for productivity or team unity. They can also provide feedback on how well you lead your team over time.
- Communication: Assess if your team is intimately familiar with your company’s vision, goals and core values. Their degree of alignment indicates how well you’re guiding everyone.
Look for measurable components like these that require your input as a leader. Then, use them to measure your leadership effectiveness.
2. Seek direct feedback
The metrics outlined above tend to be measurable statistics. They can provide a certain sense of understanding, but if you want to dig deeper into your leadership track record, you may need to seek more direct feedback. There are two ways that you can go about this.
First, go straight to your customers. In many cases, customer feedback can speak directly to leadership. For instance, you might ask about a sales experience that a CSO spearheaded. Customer experience can also be helpful in an indirect manner. If a customer has complaints, it can reflect on the quality of leadership that a company’s employees were receiving.
Speaking of employees, that is the second (and in many cases more valuable) form of direct feedback. If you’re wondering how your leadership efforts are going, no one will have a more intimately informed answer for you than the very people you’re leading.
In either of these cases, take the answers with a grain of salt. Feedback may be an opinion outside of yourself, but there’s no guarantee that it will be rational or unbiased. Instead, use it to balance out your own internal thoughts and self-assessments.
3. Try a third-party audit
If you feel you can’t gain an accurate depiction of your leadership effectiveness, you may need to go outside of your business entirely. Hiring an external consulting firm is a good way to get a professional, experienced and truly unbiased idea of your leadership.
In the end, an external audit will consist of many of the same things listed above. A consultant will gather key metrics and talk to customers and employees. However, their ability to remain disconnected from the situation can provide a unique degree of clarity.
A consultant will be able to go further than a basic diagnosis. They can also help guide you toward solutions if and when you discover a shortcoming.
Ways to make adjustments as a leader
As you find areas that need improvement as a leader (and you will) here are a few tips for ways to make adjustments:
- Own mistakes: The ability to admit that you’ve failed is the first step in improving your future behaviors and decisions.
- Set goals: As with all business-related activities, setting a clear objective always helps guide efforts.
- Find role models: This gives you a clear inspiration and possibly even a mentor.
- Maintain perspective: Work on weaknesses while understanding your strengths and what already gives you value as a leader.
The most important thing to remember as you hone your leadership is to remain open-minded. Resist the urge to become defensive or emotional as you review your effectiveness.
If you can stay focused and maintain a growth mindset, you can use your discoveries to perpetually refine yourself into an elite and experienced member of the C-suite.
Rashan Dixon is a senior business systems analyst at Microsoft, an entrepreneur and a writer for various business publications.
Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.
If you enjoyed this article, sign up for SmartBrief’s free e-mails on leadership and business transformation, among SmartBrief’s more than 200 industry-focused newsletters.