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Leaders spend a large portion of their time evaluating the members of their teams. They regularly monitor and assess their performance, communication skills and results. Effective leaders also spend time evaluating their own performance and continually seeking ways to improve.
But how do leaders evaluate their own performance if they don’t have someone above them doing regular reviews and evaluations? Conducting personal leadership evaluations are just as critical as business and team assessments, so it’s important to make them a regular part of your company reviews.
Here are three ways leaders can evaluate their performance:
1. Create opportunities for feedback.
When leaders are open to feedback, it shows employees that the leaders are aware they are not perfect and there is always room for improvement. Leaders need to approach their teams with curiosity and hunger for something to learn. Good leaders care about those they are leading enough to ask questions like: “How can I be better at supporting your success?” Or, “What is one thing I could improve about my leadership abilities that would help you in your position?”
Though feedback is essential, leaders shouldn’t be limited to feedback only during employee check-ins. Some feedback needs to be timely so that certain issues can be resolved quickly. For example, if a leader sends an important email to the team and it is unclear, the leader needs to know this right away so communication can be tweaked and the message understood. But if no one on the team feels they can express their confusion and give feedback, the content of the email will continue to be misunderstood and impact the desired results. Open communication needs to be part of the company’s culture so that ongoing opportunities for feedback are the norm. Create ways for employees to engage with you whenever there are concerns so solutions can be timely.
One tip when it comes to creating opportunities for feedback is to be intentional and ask for it skillfully, as this Harvard Business Review article highlights: “Asking ‘What feedback do you have?’ rarely elicits a useful response. Instead, ask about specific events (‘What did you hear when I shared my strategy?’), worrisome patterns (‘How often do I interrupt people in meetings?’), personal impact (‘How did it feel to you when I sent that email?’), and lastly, recommendations.”
Make sure you are creating a safe environment for transparency and risk-taking from your employees. The best indicator that you’ve created a safe environment is when there is frequent, beneficial feedback.
2. Make time for self-reflection.
Feedback is great, but not everyone sees the behind-the-scenes work of a leader. Because of this, it’s important for leaders to spend intentional time in self-reflection. Reflection helps the brain untangle chaotic thought processes, find clarity and develop problem-solving strategies. It also helps leaders stop and see things clearly both internally and externally.
Many leaders struggle with self-reflection because they are afraid they won’t like the results or they don’t understand the process or benefits of reflection. Here are a few tips to get started:
• Write down your discoveries. Journaling can show patterns and reveal the benefits of self-reflection over time. Documentation is key to measuring development.
• Schedule self-reflection time. Often, a big excuse is that there isn’t time. Just like other important things, self-reflection should be scheduled to be sure it happens.
• Ask yourself the right questions. Some leaders may not know where to start as far as the right questions to ask themselves during times of self-reflection. In this article, John Maxwell offers eight reflective questions to ask yourself.
• During those times when you feel like self-reflection is just taking up your valuable time, remind yourself that quiet reflection creates effective action. I’m inspired by this popular quote from Peter Drucker: “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection, will come even more effective action.”
3. Check the clarity of your vision.
One way to evaluate leadership success is to see how clearly the team understands the company’s vision. An organization’s vision is so important because it’s a shared direction of where the team is going. Peter Stark, a management consultant and author, wrote, ”There’s a lot of leaders out there that take the employees, blindfold them, spin them around 10 times, and then want them to go hit the tail on the donkey and they can’t do it.”
This example shows why it’s so important for a team to understand the company vision and for a leader to make “vision clarity” a part of their personal evaluation. Without it, no one knows what to do. Leaders don’t want their team members to feel lost or confused about their daily mission. Clarity is not just about memorizing a company statement; understand and convey how that statement impacts the entire company’s culture and each member personally.
You may not be able to evaluate this part of your leadership success right away if you haven’t yet instilled your company’s vision into the team. But be sure you make the vision something each team member can relate to and feel motivated by, and find ways to emphasize the mission in some way every day.
Implement frequent leadership evaluations by creating opportunities for feedback, making time for self-reflection and checking the clarity of your vision among your team. You will soon find yourself on the way to becoming a more effective leader.
July 1, 2019 at 09:06AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs