There isn't a leader that at some level of insight, hasn't asked him/herself that exact question. How do you know if you are an effective leader? There is a vast smorgasbord of leadership styles out there. Is the right leadership style idiosyncratic? If not, how do you find the right one?
To a large degree, the effectiveness of a leader is measured by the achievement of defined metrics that are a mix of financial, quality, service, and operational measures. But just meeting or beating the benchmarks isn't the whole story. There are other measures. How effective is the leader in building a team? Does s/he have a vision for the company, a roadmap to success for every stakeholder involved? How well does s/he inspire that team to embrace the vision? Is his/her organizational culture a fertile oasis of new ideas or a wasteland of old ones?
For a leader to be effective s/he must know how to keep an eye on the critical metrics in the organization and be able to lead people in a consistent direction to meet or exceed these metrics. S/he must know how to balance the future of the organization with the day to day demands of operations at an executive level.
In addition to achievement of organizational metrics, the following characteristics help with leadership effectiveness.
- Visionary ability and competence to articulate the vision
- Charisma to help engage others in the process of accomplishing the vision
- Humility and the capability to keep his/her ego in check
- Innate talent to coach and mentor others
- Possession of energy and inspiration to help others enthusiastically join in with work endeavors
- Aptitude to inspire others to be creative in achieving organizational goals
- Being a life-long learner who is able to help employees develop a craving for learning
Effective leaders have highly developed interpersonal skills that build rapport and trust with stakeholders in and outside of their organization. They are able to influence people at every level of the organization from the board, to employees, and past, current and future customers.
Effective leadership can be honed over time, but very few of us are "self-made". The acquisition of skill in any undertaking requires taking lessons from a pro and practice. And as we practice we make mistakes. Effective leaders learn from their mistakes and teach others how to avoid them in the future. Sometimes a mistake made creates an opportunity for a creative solution and everyone wins. A too-ready pink slip is often destructive to organizational learning curves.
So do you want to become a more effective leader? Start by realistically appraising with peers in your industry and ask yourself if you believe s/he is more effective than you as a leader. If yes, get specific on why and build a plan for improvement. If no, think about what might make you sustain or build upon your effectiveness in the future?
Today's marketplace is filled with leaders and we can readily identify names of leaders who are effective or not. Take the time now to evaluate your effectiveness and develop your improvement plan. Then, help your direct reports to grow in their own leadership effectiveness. And watch everybody win.