When asked to evaluate yourself at work, what metrics would you look at? Some are easier to identify than others: Did I hit this sales goal? Did we meet our financial benchmarks for the quarter? Did we pass our target for new business leads? These quantitative metrics are, by nature, easy to answer. You can pull up a report and quickly see exactly how close—or far—you are from your goal. But when it comes to leadership skills assessment, it’s not always as obvious to tell if you are being successful.
A leadership self-assessment of leadership skills is a series of questions to help you think about leadership characteristics and identify your strengths and areas of weakness. While evaluating yourself through a self-assessment can involve online quizzes or printed questionnaires, you can also assess your leadership skills by simply thinking through a number of questions.
Evaluating yourself as a manager often is a blend of interpersonal skills and business goals.
While processes and numbers can be measures of the success of your team, ROI alone won’t lead to sustainable results. Soft skills like empathy, active listening, problem solving, and the ability to motivate play a major role in strong leadership skills.
According to a study conducted by Green Peak Partners and Cornell University, “executives who lack interpersonal skills—executives who just focus on numbers and processes and wreak havoc on their people—perform poorly over all but the shortest of time periods.” The study found that “executives who are good ‘people managers’ (i.e., possess strong core leadership skills) on the other hand, produce better strategic and financial performance outcomes.”
A leadership self-assessment may focus on those interpersonal skills, in part because they take more contemplation than checking a report. When assessing your leadership skills—as a seasoned veteran or a new manager—consider thinking of soft skills in categories and questioning how you could improve.
The results of the Green Peak/Cornell study showed that a self-awareness score was the highest predictor of good leadership and overall success in management performance. Self-awareness helps you to identify the areas where you excel, and which ones aren’t your strongest so you can either develop them or surround yourself with people who have complementary skill sets. As a manager, you don’t have to personally master every important skill, trait, and characteristic that makes up a strong, high-functioning team. As long as collectively your team possesses those attributes, your business will succeed.
The challenge, however, is that the ability to accurately evaluate self-awareness requires a certain amount of already present self-understanding to do so successfully. Research has found that upwards of 95% of people believe they have a good sense of self-awareness. But based on her work, psychologist Tasha Eurich found that only about 10% to 15% of people actually had an accurate view of themselves.
Requesting feedback from your peers and employees, like through Valor’s Viewpoints solution, is a great way to learn how your actions are perceived by others and your areas of strength and for improvement. In order to do this successfully, you need to be able to create a system of healthy feedback.
Accountability is one of the most difficult aspects of leadership. According to Harvard Business Review, “far and away the single-most shirked responsibility of executives is holding people accountable.” The research supports that across all levels of management—from C-level executives to middle managers— in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the U.S., accountability was identified as the weakest and most neglected behavior. While accountability is important for making sure deadlines are met and that everyone on a team is pulling their weight, it can be tough.
Holding someone accountable means finding the answers to a basic question: “What happened?” The answer can be found in the short-term, so that you can get immediate feedback, or with more in-depth approaches if the situation requires. A useful framework for knowing which approach to take is the Accountability Dial which breaks the “what happened” question into the five stages of the conversation:
When both parties know what stage of the conversation they are in, they can stay on top of progress and—ideally—ahead of any possible hurdles that may arise.This type of accountability helps foster a culture of trust as well as a sense of personal responsibility within the team. The leadership is showing that they trust their employees to get the work done, but that they also are there for support if needed. Likewise, the employees know that everyone is invested in the success of the project.
Decision-making and the ability to execute tough decisions in a fair manner are vitally important to any business. Consulting firm Bain & Company found a “95% correlation between companies that excel at making and executing key decisions and those with top-tier financial results.” But despite this information, many managers and companies struggle with sticking to best practices when it comes to making decisions. There is a lot of noise out there clouding our ability to make decisions using the most scientific approach and to add to that, we often don’t track the decisions we make in such a way that we are able to go back and evaluate whether or not it was the right decision.
Start by being more thoughtful about the types of decisions you are making and how you are going about the process of making those decisions. Knowing when to bring in outside viewpoints and when the decision can be made quickly, as well as the difference between reversible and irreversible decisions can help alleviate some of the decision fatigue and analysis paralysis that can plague many leaders.
Using a decision-making checklist as an evaluation tool can be a good guide to not only help you figure out what decision to make but also to keep a record of the option you chose and why. By holding your decision-making process to a strict framework, you can cut down on the time spent discussing and deliberating as well as end up with a more effective result.
Conflict can be uncomfortable, and it’s up to leaders through leadership coaching, to foster a team and organizational culture that supports and encourages productive conflict and differences of opinion. You want to make sure that your team feels safe and comfortable speaking out against ideas with which they disagree or have an alternative approach that might be better.
We know that there are many benefits to encouraging differing viewpoints and perspectives, such as improving communication, building trust and relationships among team members, getting a broader view of whether you are aligned on your goals and outcomes, and ultimately better ideas overall. But if you’re not doing a great job of communicating the need for a variety of perspectives or challenges to proposed ideas, your team will stagnate, and whatever trust and cohesion your team has will erode.
One way to cultivate an environment where positive conflict is welcome is to prompt team members to express their ideas or opinions before starting your own. Remind the group that you encourage them to speak up if they have a differing viewpoint or opinion. As long as the organizational goals and objectives are aligned, this type of discourse and discussion within the team or group of stakeholders can lead to better ideas and solutions.
Another way to reinforce this dynamic is to publicly thank people who are willing to take a stand and support their alternate position. When employees speak up against the group and can lobby for their point of view with passion, it reinforces a collaborative culture, helps your team feel more engaged with their work, and makes them feel that their contributions are important. It’s equally important for team members to support the decisions of the team when the debate is over. Considering all voices is a great way to foster this engagement and buy-in.
Identifying the skills and areas where you could use a little work is a key component of the success of high-performing leaders. By identifying those areas, you can focus your efforts on making changes and improvements, building a team with compatible skill sets, and holding yourself accountable when you underperform. Improving your leadership skills can come from practicing your own self-awareness, requesting feedback from your team members, and working with a coach who is able to be an objective third-party and help you observe your performance from the outside. Great leaders know that they are always striving to get better and improve, and that starts with evaluating yourself.