If you want to know how to be a more effective leader, ask those who are being led. That was the idea behind the research in my first
Harvard Business Review
, Making Yourself Indispensable
Whether you are bringing a newly formed team together, reorganizing an existing team, or starting a new fiscal year with your current team, focus your leadership on these actions to have the greatest impact on the results you produce.
Drive alignment on a clear strategy.
When I coach executive teams, I’ll ask each leader to write down the strategy for the business. When we share what everyone has written, there are often major discrepancies and omissions from one version to the next. If those who are leading the business don’t share the same understanding of the company’s strategy, odds are no one else does. That’s going to make execution across the enterprise a huge challenge.
Establish the most useful metrics for execution.
Create 5 or 6 critical measures of progress that let you know if the business is on track to achieve its strategic goals. The best metrics are leading indicators that illustrate whether you’re on track to achieve important objectives. Increased revenue or net income is usually the ultimate goal and of course should be measured. But are you clear about the predictive milestones that portend the longer term results you need? Creating and focusing teams on those leading indicators is a powerful driver of success.
Improve team effectiveness.
Leveraging the unique strengths of those on your team is the pivotal role of an executive. Especially if achieving strategic goals requires cross-functional collaboration. Identify areas where you need collaboration and engage your team to work together on shared objectives. That’s the key difference between a team of individual contributors and a team of leaders.
Inspire and motivate others to high levels of performance.
For many leaders, their default setting is pushing their teams hard to drive for results. It’s a useful characteristic and it works. Cracking the whip is more powerful when combined with equal amounts of inspiring behaviors that engage and energize your team. Inspired colleagues will run through a brick wall for their leaders while those who are simply pushed hard will not. Use a combination of both approaches to get the most from your people.
When senior executives put a focused and intentional effort on leading these four priorities results follow.