If you are supremely confident, you might respond quickly, “Of course!” If you are more modest or less confident you might say, “I think so.” Either way, the likelihood is, like most executives and senior leaders, you are accustomed to empirical performance measures and will therefore have a reasonable basis for your answer. Accustomed to being in control and, perhaps unwilling to come across as unsure, you would be unlikely to stall by asking, “What do you mean by good?”
Yet, ‘good’ is a subjective term, and you would be quite within your rights to seek further clarification, or even to pull out that old consulting chestnut by responding, “It depends.” The fact is, your answer might well depend on who is operating the lie-detector and what lies behind the question or where the emphasis lies. Hopefully, however, the pressure derives from the lie-detector and this is a question you regularly ask yourself anyway. (If it isn’t, you definitely have little right to answer positively. A good leader will always be questioning their performance and looking to do better.)
So let’s move on to take a look at what you are doing to assess your leadership, and perhaps identify pointers for improvement.
Let’s start with productivity. There are two basic questions you need to ask yourself here.
- Are you satisfied with the productivity of your organisation?
- If so, should you be?
Productivity is invariably an issue, and the fact is it is always a people issue. In order to improve productivity you need to change the way people behave and/or the way they interact. “What about new systems and technology?” I hear you ask. Certainly they help to shape the environment, but your ability to optimise your return on investment on them depends on:
- The speed with which they are adopted;
- The extent to which they are used;
- The proficiency with which they are used.
All of these depend on people, as does any reorganisation or organisational change. Thus it is hardly stretching a point to say that effective change ultimately depends on people. And, as a leader, your role is distinguished by the need to oversee both the present operations and the transition to an improved future. By extension, this demands managing your employees effectively. Hardly a surprise since ‘leadership’ identifies the ability to work with people. You cannot be a good leader if you cannot obtain the committed effort of the people you lead, or if you cannot successfully deliver change.
So, with surveys generally identifying that a significant majority (almost 70%) of all organisational change initiatives fail to meet their stated objectives, you might reconsider your answer to the initial question. If you want to improve productivity and create the business transformation that delivers step-change improvement in your organisation’s performance and bottom line results, you need to focus more on your people.
For Traci Fenton at Worldblu this begins with creating greater freedom at work. For Alexander Kjerulf at Woohoo Inc it is about creating happiness at work. (If that sounds too unbusinesslike for you check out his very good video addressing any likely objections you may have.) Both approaches will help you become a good (or better) manager, because they start with people. They just have different starting points.
Ultimately a focus on your people entails a more humane approach to business. This still means optimising your human capital, but doing so less from the point of the benefits to you and rather from the benefits to them. Thus it still means winning employee engagement but by creating a common purpose and providing a culture and environment that provides the autonomy, mastery and purpose that enables people to enjoy their work and creates a sense of satisfaction and self-fulfillment.
The ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model offers you exactly that. A framework of shared purpose it underpins a new employer/employee relationship with little or none of the innate conflict that has historically cursed industrial relations. You might, perhaps, even call it love at work but it’s not the name that matters; it’s the results. And those could exceed anything you might currently contemplate.