Whether leaders manage people or process, lead a vision or execute a strategy, they need some fundamental skills in order to succeed. This includes: Emotional Intelligence (EQ), the ability to establish clarity of direction, identify and establish roles and responsibilities amongst a team as well as organize and realize the team’s overall success. However, despite the hundreds of leadership models and gurus in the marketplace, many organizations and individuals continue to have blind-spots when it comes to effective leadership and the development of their leaders. A critical process like performance management, when effective, can work to overcome these barriers and promote leadership success on both an individual and corporate level.
Top Blind Spots to Leadership Success:
1. Providing ineffective feedback
A key assumption that’s often made is that leaders are thought to possess a certain skill set and that they’re actually strong in these areas; not always so. What’s worse is that on occasion a high performer or subject matter expert is promoted into a leadership position assuming if they’re good at this, they must be good at that (leadership skills). A classic example: the ability to give feedback. To be able to give someone constructive feedback, well packaged and well delivered is a real skill, and if you don’t have that practice or experience, often you do one of two things—you avoid the conversation altogether, or you don’t deliver it very well.
Managers who are skilled in giving feedback talk about the incidents and then provide a concrete example—they focus on the issue, not the person.
2. Failing to make goal setting a priority
In business planning there are company objectives, department objectives, leader objectives and individual objectives—all which are cascaded. Yet most companies out there don’t communicate what their corporate objectives are to employees! That’s why you see goals from employees such as: “I’m going to go to the gym three times a week.”
Effective performance management will not only facilitate goal creation, but will also communicate corporate and departmental initiatives and then have employees align their goals with the goals of the company at large. People’s goals need to be written in the context of what the priorities are of the organization.
3. Leadership & technology
Leaders want to talk to their people and the last thing any of them want to do is to get buried in the paperwork. The average performance management system is 12 to 14 pages in length; multiply that by 25 direct reports and you could literally have 2 to 3 months of your time allocated to performance management. Technology really isolates the administration and orchestrates the paperwork to facilitate a better conversation. Ideally that technology should be hyper intuitive and easy to get at.
In addition, the beauty of automation allows you to centralize, access and manage (CAM). With technology you can, in a very short timeframe, like 15 seconds, take a snapshot and summarize where everybody’s at in the performance cycle. On the back end you can pull summary reports. Using the scoring capabilities of performance management software you can get a snapshot of everyone by organization and department and get a good understanding of the performance levels in your company. More importantly, if you’ve asked employees to align their goals with specific corporate objectives you can now identify how much of your company resources are devoted towards each of those priorities.
4. Thinking leadership development is just for leaders/future leaders
Some organizations focus primarily on constantly building the skill set of existing leaders or people who are in leadership positions—but leadership is for everybody. You don’t have to be a manager; leadership skills can show up in other non-hierarchical positions at any point in time. You need to be able to let people make decisions. Be prepared that it’s your job as a manager to intervene depending on how much impact a wrong decision will have and then put it back on track (a true mentor/coach), but leadership can be very naturally cultivated in any position.
By modeling positive coaching methods and effective feedback messages, management can create a culture of coaching and achieve more individual and corporate success.