How effective are you?
Things are going well, but you sometimes wonder if you could step up your game – but where to start?
There are three quick ways you can find out.
I recently worked with an executive we will call Sam, who shared that she felt things were going fine. She suspected, however, that she could do better.
“I don’t have anything specific I can put my finger on,” Sam said. “But I’ve been sitting in this chair a long time, and carry out my responsibilities easily. I’m just wondering if I am contributing my best if things run so smoothly.”
“You are wise to check in on this,” I answered. “Too many executives don’t pause to ask themselves that question. One can easily fall into complacency – and this leads to a rut from which it is difficult to climb. But you are avoiding such a scenario altogether by asking yourself the question, ‘Am I contributing my best?’”
Sam shifted in her chair. “If I’m really honest, I also feel like I’m not growing and learning right now, so that I push the edges of what’s possible for me as a leader. It’s not that I want to change positions or anything like that – it’s just that I wonder if I could be even more effective right where I am. You know – personal growth.”
“Again, great reflection, Sam.” I said. “And there’s much we can do in this arena. But a great place to start is to take a quick assessment of how you are doing. This requires that you be candid with yourself as you go through some careful questioning. And then, if you want a full picture – to see if others have the same perception of your leadership as you do, you will include a few others in this same process.”
“That’s a little daunting,” Sam answered. “But you are probably going to tell me that it is valuable, or you wouldn’t have suggested it.”
“Yes,” I replied. “When we take a careful look at ourselves and assess how we are doing, we are seeing from our lens only. Getting feedback from others helps us to understand how others see us in these same areas. There are often surprises.”
Sam sat back. “You know, I really get that. We have someone here who feels he is a confident and decisive person. But many of us have said that he has a blind spot – that he is actually a poor listener and doesn’t include others in important decisions.”
“Now you are getting it!” I said.
Sam and I worked on some quick questions and process to include others in her mini-assessment. After doing this, she reported some great discoveries that served as the basis for her personal development plan going forward.
How are you doing?
Here are some questions to help you begin your assessment.
Following these questions, I’ve outlined the three ways you can use these. And whether you choose to self-assess, or to include others, it is important to appreciate candor and openness as part of the process, remembering that any feedback you get is valuable to your growth and to your future.
Questions for the Assessment Process
- Who am I as leader when I am at my best?
- What keeps me from being at my best as a leader?
- What do I need more or less of to be at my best as leader?
- What do I consider my top strengths?
- How do I use these to benefit my work? My team and colleagues? The company?
- Where do I see growth opportunities to use more of these strengths in my work?
- In what area(s) do I feel there is more personal growth opportunity for me?
- How would this enhance my work results? My leadership? How would this benefit my team, colleagues, and the company?
- Where in my work do I feel I could be even more effective? Where in my leadership could I do the same?
- If I were to work on one thing to be more effective, what would it be? How would this benefit my team? My colleagues? The company?
3 Ways to Assess Your Personal Effectiveness
1. Perform a self-assessment.
Take some time away from the office to sit in a quiet, reflective space. Journal out your answers. Handwriting instead of typing connects the head and heart and will produce deeper, richer results.
2. Have a heart-to-heart discussion with your leader.
Ask her if she will sit with you and answer some questions that will help you to become more effective. Ask her for details or scenarios when you aren’t sure about her answers, or when something isn’t clear to you. It’s important for you to have a clear visual as to when and how you come across in a certain way, or how your results show, so that you can be more aware and manage yourself more effectively.
3. Perform a mini-360° assessment.
Select from those colleagues and reports with whom you work most closely (you may even include a key customer!).
Follow the same process as you do with your leader in #2 above. Select a handful carefully – perhaps 3-5. Be courageous by including those for whom you feel less affinity, or those you fear might be harsh in their feedback. Remember that if one person provides you feedback that is unlike that from the others and does not seem true, you can choose to discount it, or to see this as a growth opportunity to forge a better, closer relationship with that person to test it out.
Once you have gathered your feedback, you will have a rich source of information from which to draw for your personal leadership growth.
Patti Cotton helps executives optimize their effectiveness in leading self, others, and the enterprise. Her areas of focus include confidence, leadership style, executive presence, effective communication, succession planning, and masterful execution. With over 25 years of leadership experience, both stateside and abroad, Patti works with individuals, teams, and organizations across industries, providing executive coaching, leadership development, succession planning, change, and conflict management. She is also a Fortune 500 speaker. For more information on how Patti Cotton can help you and your organization, click here.