What Do You Pay Attention To?
I’ve asked some friends to bring their insights to the Leadership Freak community. Please give a warm welcome to today’s guest writer, S. Chris Edmonds.
If you’re like most leaders, you pay attention to what’s right in front of you.
One key question I ask senior leaders is “what do you pay attention to?” Most say they focus on performance indicators.
Monitoring performance metrics is good. And, sometimes systems present metrics that are easy to monitor but aren’t the right things to monitor.
Here’s an example. A printing plant installed a new press that could deliver 50,000 impressions an hour. A software “dashboard” kept careful track of that metric. However, if the color scheme were off by just 2%, the printed matter would not meet customer standards. The press’ dashboard didn’t monitor color requirements perfectly; only a human could do that. It was vital to monitor both impressions per hour and adherence to the customer’s color palette.
I suggest that leaders pay attention to:
- Strategic Clarity – How well is your organization’s strategy understood across the company? Communicate and reinforce your declared strategy regularly.
- Goal Alignment – Once strategic clarity is reached, leaders need to regularly assess the degree to which projects, goals, tasks are aligned to that declared strategy.
- Expectations Clarity – Next, leaders must ensure that everyone in the organization understands and commits to goals for both performance and values (defined in behavioral terms).
- Consistent Accountability – Finally, leaders must hold themselves and staff accountable for meeting performance expectations and values expectations. Accountability means the prompt application of POSITIVE consequences (when folks do the right things the right way) and NEGATIVE consequences (when they don’t).
Am I missing any other key elements leaders should focus upon? Let me know in the comments section below.
S. Chris Edmonds is a speaker, author, and senior consultant with the Ken Blanchard Companies. He blogs at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/scedmonds.
I would add one other component for leaders…are they measuring and monitoring how the leaders and other people on their team are developing. To me, if a leader does not develop those under him/her and specifically find and develop a successor, they fail as a leader. The four items you have described are absolutely essential; the fifth is also a requirement for a leader.
I would add culture to the list.
A great leader should know and understand how the culture of her business stands today and how it is evolving, changing and trending.
Running a business is about execution and execution is about people. So, understanding culture is critical.
I agree with these four, and would suggest one that I’ve come to see as important: The demeanor of team members.
I hate “soft” targets like this, but have learned that all the leader work captured in your first four will be effective today only to the extent I have the team with me. If they’re souring on an objective, or feeling ill, or having trouble at home, they don’t care about strategy, goals or expectations. Your first indicator that something’s wrong is usually in the behavior of your people. They’ll say what you’ve trained them to say, but their actions will show what they’re really feeling.
This probably could be included as part of expectations clarity and accountability, but it’s worth commenting on anyway.
Hi Chris. Enjoyed this. All those are excellent points. Really like the accountability for Positive results. You might be familiar with the saying “Catch them doing something right” by some guy named Ken Blanchard. Ha. Love that. I think that all leaders should practice The CARE principles. Communicate, Appreciate, Respect, Encourage. Engage seems to be a buzz word lately for employees. Perhaps leaders should Engage more with employees.
Thanks again for this great piece. Also appreciate your insight and tweets, especially on #Leadfromwithin. Take CARE.
My thoughts too. Some heart was missing before. I believe emotional connections are a huge part of good leadership and I’d argue that paying attention to ‘relationship quality and styles’ tells a lot of useful stories too.
Consistent and concise communication of strategies, goals and expectations keeps leaders focused on the big picture while those who need to help paint that picture consistently put down the right brush strokes. Positive encouragement keeps people motivated by their contribution and so many of the suggestions of this blog offer the tools to offer the right encouragement, in the right way and at the right times. This is another good, thought-provoking post. MMF
Pingback: Interesting but not actionable – the reporting creep problem « High Integrity Support
Our program used to have enrollees only in other counties. The enrollees were far away and although we dealt with them and their families every day by phone, we never looked them in the face (rarely anyway). Once our program had enrollees here in our county, wearing apparel with the logo of our organization took on a whole new meaning because we got immediate feedback from enrollees (good and bad) in the grocery store, at fast food restaurants, anywhere two people might run into one another!
The point of that long story is to say that the leader should “put their logo on their shirt” and mingle with the customers – hear what they have to say immediately upon seeing who you work for. What does this have to do with how the leader behaves when he/she is back in their office? What does it have to do with elements to focus on? It has to do with making sure that everyone along the line, from the receptionist up to the ED, knows what it is like to use your product. If they don’t, opportunities should be created.
Greg and Bill mentioned what I find to be the most critical thing to pay attention to…your people. Woody Allen said that 80% of success is just showing up. I’d suggest that 80% of success is just paying attention.
Performance indicators are outcomes of human effort. Performance indicators are not true indicators of performance. It might mislead because it does not reveal means and strategy to achieve that. I mean to say, performance with dishonesty and unethical practices is not real performance. Organizations suffer in long run. Such practices and means to achieve performance damage reputation of organization.
The other missing link is communication. Leaders should pay attention to communication. They should ensure that communication is passed to every level in uniform manner and in time. There are double headed or hydra headed people who distort, delay and block the information for their own advantages. Leaders should discourage these practices.Why these kind of practices prevails, is because of lack of interaction by leaders at lower level. Leaders should build and create a culture of interaction with employees. They improve the morale of employees and does not allow “Incompetent people” to spread the information in their own favor.
Terrific responses from all of you! Thanks, Bill, David, Greg, Al, Meagan, Paula, Jeff, and Ajay!
I agree with each of your suggestions – culture is a critical one for me (see my blog site). AND all of your suggestions contribute to creating a culture of high performance as well as great citizenship (values alignment) – not one or the other.
Dan, thanks for the opportunity to post here in support of you and of great leadership.
It’s implicit in what you say and in many of the comments but it needs to be stated: Recognize that people focus on personal performance goals and measures so make sure that the behavior required to meet the goals is aligned with the organization’s strategy. For example, if physicians are rewarded based on how many patients they see a day but the organization’s goal is good medicine and patient satisfaction, there will be a disconnect because the physicians will be rushing people through to meet the goals on which they are measured.
Great post – both of you!
This is a sensational post and I think you are right on the money. It’s the actions that create the outcomes that is most important.