Readers often ask, “How do I know if I am being effective as a leader”? The obvious answer is, “Are people following you”? However, there are several specific dimensions that can be probed to assess and improve your effectiveness. We can’t cover all of the important components of leadership in one article, but I’ve chosen six that will provide a good basis for self-evaluation.
As you answer the following six questions (see worksheet, p. 62), be as objective as you can, and then rate each dimension on the five-point scale that follows: 1 = Needs major improvement; 2 = Some improvement needed; 3 = Adequate; 4 = Above average; and 5 = Superior.
No. 1: Direction
Does the organization (or unit) have a clear vision, mission and plan? Do all members know, understand and live the mission? Organizational direction requires:
• Vision: Direction (long term) of the organization; a mental model of a future state of the organization (idealistic, challenging and inspiring).
• Mission/Purpose: Why do we exist? What are we trying to accomplish? This statement should fit on a T-shirt (Peter Drucker).
• Strategic Plan: How do we accomplish our mission? What are the specific things (goals and objectives) we plan to do over the next few months/year? Who’s responsible for each task and when are accomplishments or progress reports due? Actual dates are imperative: A plan without due dates has little effect.
No. 2: Teamwork
Do members of the organization or unit work together in a complimentary and supportive way? Or do competition, bickering and “buck passing” fragment the group?
I define team as a group of people who subordinate their personal interests for the welfare of the group. I define complimentary action as various units or individuals making decisions that consider the impact on other entities in the organization, as opposed to contributing to fragmentation and compartmentalized thinking.
No. 3: Staff Development
Do all members of the organization/unit have the opportunity to reach their full potential?
Leaders provide training or make training happen. They provide personnel with sufficient preparation and direction to ensure they are ready and able to fulfill their responsibilities. Leaders also mentor: Each member of the organization must have the opportunity to learn from more senior members.
Career development is facilitated by giving employees the opportunity of differing job responsibilities and assignments. Timely, objective information is provided to employees regarding their goal achievement, need for improvement and/or effectiveness as individuals and groups.
The bottom line: Organizational values and culture are transferred through deliberate personal relationships.
No. 4: Principles, Values & Policies
Are the foundational principles, values and policies of the organization known, discussed, enforced and part of the culture?
Principles are basic, unchangeable truths (i.e., public esteem for a police agency increases its effectiveness). Values are those principles that are considered important enough to reinforce through rewards and sanctions. Policies are a definite course or method of action selected from among various alternatives to provide guidance for decision making.
No. 5: Communication
Is there a free-flow of thoughts and ideas? Are goals, priorities, concerns, problems and opinions shared within the organization? Are open communications encouraged between various levels and offices? How does your organization communicate with other departments, agencies, customers or public?
Note: Nothing contributes to a lack of organizational faith more than poorly run meetings. Communications here are key. Prepare an advance agenda, make decisions and delegate responsibilities with due dates.
No. 6: Controls
Are there systems to ensure execution and accountability? You must be able to quantify how vision is pursued; whether your mission is accomplished; that your values are esteemed and lived out; that policies are published, discussed and understood; that procedures are followed; and that people are accountable and are rewarded and/or sanctioned. Without a means of assessing your organization, you don’t have a baseline to monitor progress.
Objectively rate yourself on a scale of 1–5 on the following leadership skills:
1. Direction _______
2. Team work _______
3. Staff development _______
4. Principles & values _______
5. Communication _______
6. Controls/execution _______
Interpreting your score: 25–30—Superior; 20–25—Above average; 15–20—Just adequate; 10–15—Needs improvement; 10 or below—In serious trouble. In addition to self assessment, some may find it useful to pass out this assessment tool to their subordinates or work group.
Over the next several issues, I will attempt to address each of these six dimensions of leadership. Hopefully, these articles will provide helpful suggestions for achieving improvement and progress.
Wise leaders realize the importance of assessing the health of their organization and their own leadership effectiveness. Pursuing excellence always involves a struggle. But nowhere does this struggle reap more fulfillment than in serving others as a leader.—On Point.