Being a leader is all about motivating and guiding people toward accomplishments. But how do you know if you're actually getting "leadership" right?
You can (and should) get objective feedback from your team and your superiors about what you're doing and whether it's working. But there's one more person to consider when gaining insight and opinions about your work: yourself.
If you want to gauge your own effectiveness as a leader — and figure out which direction to go next — answer these three questions as honestly as you can. [See Related Story: 7 Common Leadership Mistakes You're Probably Making]
What am I doing to empower people?
As a leader, your most important asset is your influence, said Richard Lorenzen, CEO of Fifth Avenue Brands. Without influence, you can't motivate your team to reach their goals. And how do you gain influence? By adding value to your team's lives and empowering them to do their jobs well each day.
Lorenzen said self-reflection about your influence and the effect you have on your team is crucial to evaluating your own effectiveness.
"All leaders need to spend at least some time in reflection each day, because that is ultimately how we assimilate all of the ... feedback that we are constantly receiving," he told Business News Daily. "[This] conscious habit not only allows you to measure your progress at the end of each day, but also to become more aware of opportunities to empower and add value to people as you go through your day."
Empowerment can also come from sincerity and transparency with your employees. Moe Glenner, leadership expert and author of "PlusChange: Genesis of Innovation" (Lid Publishing, 2016), said leaders should say what they mean and mean what they say, to build trust among their team. They should also be keeping their team informed about what's happening in the company, even if it seems small and insignificant at the time.
"Lack of information, misinformation or [sharing] on a 'need-to-know' basis [creates] for frustration, disillusionment and disengagement — all mortal enemies to the well-oiled team," Glenner said. "By keeping everyone informed and on a timely basis, problems are discovered earlier and the team works smoother."
How am I affecting my employees' experience?
Empowerment of your team is important, but it's likely not the only effect your leadership style is having on them. S. Chris Edmonds, founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group and author of "The Culture Engine" (Wiley, 2014), said you need to think about how well you're serving your employees' needs, because employees who feel trusted and respected will feel more motivated to serve the company.
"A leader can evolve only by learning how his or her plans, decisions and actions impact the employee experience," Edmonds said. "With that information, the leader can assess what to do more of — and less of — to create that safe, inspiring and productive team culture."
Edmonds said the best way to focus on this is by looking at your "outcome" in terms of the energy of your work environment, rather than the processes and results.
"Leaders must observe, monitor and measure employee confidence, optimism, proactive skill application, proactive problem solving, etc. daily," Edmonds said. "With that data, leaders can revise their messaging, clarify the direction and strategy, communicate frequently and learn daily to increase the health and quality of their work environment."
What is my end goal, and how do I get there?
When you become a leader, you're suddenly responsible for a lot more of the day-to-day workings of the business, and with that comes a lot of extra work. That's why it's so vital for leaders to constantly assess their ultimate reason for doing that work: the end goals their company expects them to achieve.
"Whether it is a long-term or short-term goal or project, [you need] to have that in mind to help prioritize what is important on any given day," said Jennifer Lemcke, chief operating officer of Weed Man USA lawn care franchise.
Jay Deakins, founder and CEO of enterprise resource planning software company Deacom, noted how easy it is to get caught up in smaller tasks that do nothing to "move the needle" or get you closer to reaching your goals. You may think things like project-update meetings and team conference calls are pushing you toward progress, but they may not really be worth all the time they take up, he said.
"Leaders need to reduce the amount of time being wasted on the minutiae," Deakins said. "Whether it is delegating responsibilities to other team members or adjusting the internal processes, they need to make time to step back and identify what they can do today to drive business growth tomorrow."