As a leader, it is important to be able to reflect on your performance from multiple perspectives. From an individual perspective, your performance is important because it impacts you and your tenure in your role or with your employer. For Managers, a second consideration is that your performance includes both technical and leadership skills. Both these skills impact you and your team and so you should be able to attune to both your developmental needs and the proficiency levels of individuals on your team.
As an executive, you should understand how well your team works together because a lack of trust among persons at higher levels within the organization can contribute to silos. An appreciation for the cohesiveness of your team is essential because there are instances where individuals within the team work very well together, but they become difficult to work with when collaboration with other teams is necessary.
Perceiving your own performance as a leader involves understanding your personal strengths and weaknesses and how they impact both your performance and that of your team. Your ability to perceive your performance without too many distortions is critical to the sustainable performance of your team. When self-awareness and team attunement are deficient, leaders can face risks like low employee morale and deficiencies in customer care.
If you are not aware of how you are perceived, you can be blindsided by someone being promoted into a position you applied for, or you could be surprised by your own termination. At the team level, leaders who are not self-aware can contribute to the creation of a team culture that causes performance levels that do not express the full potential of the team and by extension, they do not represent the best results possible.
At the outset, perceiving yourself clearly requires being open to perceiving beyond the veil created by your unique way of seeing the world. Without this, observations by others or your own self-assessments can be rejected and team transformation would be difficult. Here are four recommendations you can use to perceive your performance gaps clearly:
- Be clear about what success means. If an expectation of an employee is to collaborate with others, they can give the appearance of collaboration by going through the motions. If this is what the leader wants to see and does not seek a deeper understanding of quality of interaction, the leader can conclude their objective of collaboration was successful. Defining success should involve outlining clear success factors. So in a case like this, successful collaboration can be defined as trust based relationships where there is self-initiated action between employees and conversations that are characterized by respect, empathy and genuine caring about each other’s goals. There are climate assessments that can measure some of these characteristics and help you read between the lines.
- Understand your motives. Are you motivated based on your own personal agenda, are you inspired by the goals of the team, or both. If both, understand if you are leaning toward one end of the spectrum or the other.
- Understand the motives of your Reporting Officer. Sometimes reporting officers are unwilling or unable to tell you the truth about your performance. This can be due to an unwillingness to confront because you were never told the truth or because your reporting officer has a deficiency related to confrontation. This means as a leader, you can be rewarded for skills and behaviors annually that you may not have developed. This can happen because of office politics.
- Understand how you affect your team. Do your coworkers find you difficult to work with, or easy to approach? Do they perceive you as being competent or not? Does your team think you will represent them effectively with your supervisors, or not? If there is a negative response to any or all of these questions, it is important to take time to repair work relationships. Especially if your reactions are causing persons not to give you the kind of information you need to make optimal decisions. If there is fear resident within your team, your coworkers will say what you, or your reporting officers want to hear.
Company’s grow as much as their leaders allow them to. This is because the quality of decisions made by leaders fall within the spectrum between empowerment and suffocation, and if leaders are highly controlling and unaware of their impact on others, this can directly impact the performance of individual leaders and their teams.
When a leader is aware of their true value to the organization, this awareness can empower that leader to add additional value or consider a career change. When leaders remain in the dark about their below standard performance it puts the organization in a position where there is low potential for improvement of results. As obvious as this sounds, I come across many instances where leaders are unaware of how their performance is actually viewed. There is the rating that shows up on the performance assessment and then there are the true, unwritten evaluations that never get recorded until there is a change in leadership.
Top performing leaders not only take their own development in hand, they conscientiously identify their own performance gaps. They are not afraid of feedback and they are willing to contribute to the development of their respective teams through stretch assignments, coaching, and other developmental activities.
Yvette Bethel is CEO of Organizational Soul, an Organizational Effectiveness Consulting and Leadership Development company. She is a Consultant, Trainer, Speaker, Facilitator, Executive Coach, Author, and Emotional Intelligence Practitioner. If you are interested Yvette's ideas on other leadership topics you can sign up for her newsletter at www.yvettebethel.com or you can listen to her podcast at Evolve Podcast.