5 questions every leader should ask
Leadership | May 17, 2016
But understanding how productive your employees are relative to the results they’re creating can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are five questions you can ask to get razor-sharp clarity around productivity, according to John Manning, author of “The Disciplined Leader: Keeping the Focus on What Really Matters.”
Answer these five questions to improve goal-setting, make more empowered decisions about your company’s strategic direction, and discover how to more effectively lead and inspire performance.
1. Do we have the right talent?
The very best leaders purposefully and strategically surround themselves with exceptionally talented people. These carefully chosen individuals possess skills and innate gifts that often surpass those of their leaders, and work alongside them and behind the scenes to help drive productivity, profitability and success across the organization.
One of the most important responsibilities of leading a team is attracting and retaining the very best talent possible and helping each of them achieve their full potential. You should be seeking employees who have the capacity to deliver according to the requirements of the job and are open and enthusiastic about learning and growth.
2. Do we have goal clarity?
Goal clarity is vital to organizational success. Begin with yourself as the leader, and then move through and out to the frontlines of your business, determining whether every single employee has a solid grasp of their major work objectives. Look for opportunities to take employees aside and ask “What are your goals?” or “How are you performing against your goals?”
If you find employees struggling with their answers (perhaps describing activities they’re doing instead) nab this opportunity to help them understand and re-clarify their goals to get back on the right path. Continue to do this until your entire team is engaged and clearly focused on the right objectives to move the organization forward.
3. Do we have goal alignment?
High performing companies are strategically aligned through goal alignment. When everyone in your organization is clear about their goals, your attention should turn to ferreting out whether any of the goals in different departments may be unintentionally opposed to each other.
For example, if a core goal was to reduce overtime expense, your customer service leader might think it prudent to cut the Call Center hours. However, this may cause the center to be flooded with more calls during its fewer open hours, damaging customers’ experiences and the company’s productivity.
4. Are we holding people accountable?
Real accountability requires deep discipline. It’s not always easy, but the effort and any short-term pain is well worth the advantages, since holding employees accountable is essential to achieving corporate goals. To gain the full impact, leaders need to drive accountability down through the entire organization.
Regularly scheduled accountability meetings where performance gets reported and measured is an excellent means to get every team member on the same page and focused on the right goals. These meetings also provide valuable insights into what’s working and what isn’t, who needs coaching, and who’s engaged or not.
5. How are we performing against the competition?
The most successful organizations know their competition inside and out. They use this information to spot opportunities and make critical decisions about what direction to take their businesses and how to increase productivity by developing and supporting their people differently. Knowing your competition gives you an opportunity to create competitive advantages.
Dig deep, continuously searching for new ways to meet existing demands and those customers don’t yet realize they may need. Ask your employees to explore what they could do that’s new or different relative to the competition. Then encourage and inspire their ingenuity, giving them the freedom and support necessary to develop cutting-edge solutions that align to your company goals.