CEO’s and Executive Directors rely on Key Performance Indicators and various measurements associated with Risk Management and Continuous Improvement. They rely on metrics and data to support decision making. The idea is to not to feel how things are going but rather to measure how things are going. That being said, I want to suggest three criteria that are not all exact measurements, but are all critical for leading your team and holding yourself and your team accountable.
Each Person on The Team
How your team gets along is critical to your culture and its ability to support retention, recruitment, diversity and getting the job done. Professional harmony is not the same as personal harmony. Though it is great when team members have a lot in common or have appreciation for each other’s personalities, sense of humor, and other characteristics, in the work place they must at minimum have respect for each other and an ability to communicate effectively. Communicating effectively means being able to hold a conversation, have a disagreement and not create hostility and anger. Each person on the team needs to be able to get along well and see each other as capable and providing value. Sometimes a team member may need help in convincing others in their team of these facts. A Leader needs to step in to help shape opinions, when necessary, by highlighting attributes, deferring to this person on some matters, or making sure the individual is given the chance to share and provide value. In the same regard, a Leader must address those on the team that are not trying to work well with others and is diminishing the abilities of others through negativity, gossip, sarcasm, and insincerity. These are all judgement calls at best, and organizations need experienced leaders and managers who have developed a professional sense about these things as well as effective communication skills and tools to continue to shape a strong team.
Regardless of what some may say, effort is a subjective experience. We all have built in cues to what it means to give effort, but they are personal and shaped by our own experiences. Whether its body language, frantic activity, verbalizations, working late, coming in early, emails and calls over the weekend, the development of plans and forms and lots of scheduled meetings, or a number of other observable activities, putting forth a good effort is subjective. “The early bird gets the worm” and “Work smarter not harder” are all sayings that reflect the speakers perspective of what it means to put forth the right kind of effort to them. A leader does need to direct effort and reinforce what is considered a good effort in order to set the bar and expectations for their staff. It is quite possible, however, to allow people to work at the pace and level that works best for them so long as you have a clear end game that results in knowing whether the goal was achieved or not. In the end, too much might be made about the effort that was given vs. the results, but it can also be the one element of the three that shapes your attitudes and feelings about a member of your team, if you don’t check your own bias. Effort in the end is style, and personality wrapped around a problem with a limited amount of defined resources. The danger for leaders is to get caught up in their own ego and believe another saying that states that, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery”.
Ultimately the reason we put teams together, and work with effort and purpose is to achieve an outcome that we were aiming for. This is also not to say that circumstances beyond the control of you or team members don’t play an important part in reaching your goal and being effective. For the moment, though, we need to talk about a false formula that many leaders fall for.
GOOD TEAM + LOTS OF EFFORT= EFFECTIVENESS
In reality a good team is one that is effective and reaches the goal that is outlined. Whether the right amount of effort was given is made clear by seeing how effective the result of that effort was. A mistake that any leader can make is to make excuses for not reaching a goal and not address team dynamics or the effort that was put forth by that team. This is not the same thing as saying that no-one put forth effort or that your team is a tangled web of destructive lone wolf personalities. Rather a good leader can use not meeting a goal, or not fully satisfying all deliverables, as a time for team reflection to challenge the relationships of the team members and their ability to rely on each other and support each other, or to discuss what aspect of the effort was not sufficient to be effective.