One of the challenges we have when we lead others, is to ensure that we are always clear on the goals, objectives and performance that we sign up to. Ensuring that we deliver what the organization expects, is one of the biggest measures of success.
These are often relatively easy to identify, because as SMART objectives inherently define (as long as they are good enough, of course), there are usually numbers attached. Achievement of a fixed numerical goal is pretty straightforward – or not.
For the more subtle performance outcomes, it can be a challenge to fix numbers on them, so defining the results can be more of a problem.
How easy is it to measure something like ‘being supportive’? An excellent leadership behavior, but very difficult to demonstrate. In the ’emotionally intelligent’ world, ‘being supportive’ is one of the key behaviors that any decent leader needs to have in their toolkit.
If you ask a leader, many of them will say that they are supportive and yet when asked to define this, they will find it challenging. Even more difficult, they will find it very tough to be able to say how their existing behavior set demonstrates that they are supportive on a regular basis.
That’s because we really find it quite hard to be objective in how we assess how we do, often because we get too close to it.
Try this little experiment.
Without looking at it – or you spoil the fun – draw your own watch. If you don’t wear a watch, draw the clock you most often use. It is something that is very hard to do, despite our close familiarity to something we look at several times a day.
This analogy exactly replicates how we are with the behaviors we have built into us. It’s really hard to be objective, simply because we are too close to it.
For teams and organizations, appreciating the behaviors demonstrated as part of the culture is equally difficult – on a much bigger and potentially more damaging scale.
Whilst being aware of this ‘blind spot’ on a personal basis is challenging enough, for organizations, even open, honest and effective awareness can be very difficult. Add in a mix of politics, strategic thinking and individual self-preservation and you get a minefield.
The way to progress for both individuals and organizations is to seek feedback about what does – or doesn’t – work well. This feedback needs to be open, honest and received without excuses or reasons to apologize it away. People who give feedback – from individuals right up to whole organizations – need to be honored for their generous participation.
And what they say needs to be honored too, by ensuring it is responded to professionally and thoroughly, showing that the efforts they make to provide feedback is fully valued.
Whether it is at the individual level or big corporation level, knowing exactly what your watch looks like as a first step, demonstrates that internal change can and will happen, once you fully understand current reality.
And that can only be for the better.