Leaders always set goals. People need to know when they have arrived. Goals tell us when we arrive. Good leaders always paint a picture of what it looks like when we succeed. Most leaders are good at this. BUT How many leaders can paint a picture of success in their role? What is the picture when they have succeeded as a leader? Ask ten leaders and you may get ten answers and I will differ with all of them. I would like to propose my picture of what it looks like to succeed as a leader.
To paint the picture I think we first must look at common definitions that do not work.
A successful leader beats the competition.
Beats the competition at what? What is the companies vision? Is it to be the biggest? Is it to have the best customer service? Is the victory achieved by short term strategies and can’t be maintained? Beating the competition does not necessarily measure a successful leader.
A successful leaders meets or exceeds all goals.
Who set the goals, the leader? Were the goals a stretch? Do the goals align with the long term goals of the company? Are the methods used to meet the goals sustainable or were they short term tactics? Simply meeting goals, usually established by the leader spell true success as a leader.
A successful leaders achieves record sales for the company.
If the company has performed poorly in the past is record sales really a success? If you cut costs and profits to obtain sales is that successful? Sales only are not a measure of success.
A successful leaders achieves record profits.
You can slash payroll and capital investment for a year and achieve record profits, ONE TIME, is that a success? If you raise prices and lower quality you can see a one time record profit but is that a success when all of your customers leave the following years?
A successful leader achieves record customer service scores.
If you throw payroll at the company you can increase customer service scores, but what about profit? Even with satisfied customers, you can’t sustain losses.
Looking at these common definitions it’s clear that all of the above are factors to success but no single one measures success. To say a good balance of all of the above spells success may be accurate but is very difficult to define. The leader must establish the right combination of each will take the company to the intended destination.
So how do we paint a picture of a successful leader? How do we measure when we have achieved success?
To say one has achieved success as a leader…. the operation will continue and achieve the same results in the leaders absence as it would if they were there.
That’s it, my definition for success as a leader. A successful leaders is the least needed person in the organization when it comes to day to day operations. A successful leader effectively communicates his vision and culture to the entire team. Everyone knows where the company is going. They train individuals to do their jobs. everyone knows how to do it. They push things down through delegation. Everyone shares the responsibility. They instill ownership. Everyone takes responsibility. They encourage risk taking and individual thinking. No one is afraid to make decisions. They create a motivating environment. everyone is excited about the journey. they create team work so everyone shares in the process.
When a leader accomplishes this, the team takes off toward the vision usually leaving the leader in the dust. What an exciting organization. This allows the leader to sit back and observe the environment, looking for opportunities and hazards. They can refine their vision and prepare for tomorrow.
A leader that has built his organization to be self sufficient without his input is the definition of a success. Their team will be engaged taking ownership of the organization. The leader will then have time to chart the next step for the organization.
Funny to think that when you’re needed the least, you have achieved success.