The new year is a good time to look back on 2017 to evaluate ourselves. Such introspection is especially appropriate for those who carry the responsibilities of leadership.
Having had the privilege of working as a coach to CEOs and business owners for nearly three decades, as well as assessing my own personal growth and progress as a leader, I have developed 11 questions for self-evaluation. As you answer each question, rate yourself on a 0-10 scale to identify areas for improvement in 2018.
- How strong am I as a decision-maker and a doer? Do I hold myself accountable to make decisions that will move my organization forward? Am I willing and capable to do the things that the job demands, even if they are hard? Do I procrastinate?
One of my early mentors counseled me to “eat the frog first.” He explained that it’s human nature to put off what we don’t like to do, but generally it’s better to take on tough issues as soon as they emerge.
- How am I doing as a “direction-setter?” Have I shared a clear, compelling vision and mission with my team? Do my words and actions sync with that vision? Do I walk my talk?
- Am I good delegator? Do I delegate with an eye toward (a) the development of others, and (b) to free myself up for other critical tasks? Or do I garner too many tasks, failing to develop others and creating stress for myself?
When assigning others, am I thorough in explaining both the actions and desired outcomes for that job? Do I provide the resources to succeed in the job? Or am I guilty of dumping assignments on others without clear direction, increasing the probability that they will fail?
- Am I strong communicator? Do my communication skills begin with being fully present and engaged, asking insightful questions, and intently listening to the responses of others? Do I seek to understand before being understood? When I speak, or communicate through written or electronic means, do I communicate clearly in words that will connect, help, and inspire others?
- How are my planning skills? Do I regularly employ a planning process for the strategies of my organization? Do I engage my team in that process to assure that I enjoy their best advice and obtain their buy-in? Do I utilize a process for bringing our strategies down to earth in the form of monthly, weekly, and daily initiatives and to-do lists?
- Am I an effective coach for my people? Do they seek my counsel or do they avoid me? Do I sincerely listen to them? Do I show that I truly care about them, in both their work and personal lives? Do I make a positive difference for them?
- Am I a strong team-builder? Have I been able to bring competent people together to produce desired outcomes and cohesive, positive relationships? Have I utilized teams to assure that we enjoy diverse opinions, ideas, and strategies? Do my people enjoy working together in teams? Do they feel that our company itself is a winning team, of which they are proud to be a part?
- Am I an effective architect of our organization’s culture? Do I have clarity regarding what constitutes our culture? Do I regularly reinforce and protect that culture with the things I do and say? Do I recognize team members as they reflect our culture in what they do and say? Is our culture apparent to ownership, employees, customers, and other stakeholders?
- Am I strategic innovator? Am I a catalyst for change? Do I create an environment that welcomes new ideas and innovation? Am I observant of trends in business and society that may signal the need for change? Am I too comfortable with how we do business? Am I continuously looking for improvement in our business model?
- Am I a wise organization builder? Do I carefully organize to deliver the operational and customer outcomes required of my company? Does our organizational structure, facilities, and other resources correlate directly with our vision, mission, and values? Are we well-organized to accomplish our goals?
- Am I still “green and growing?” Am I a life-long learner? Do I read and study with an eye toward growing as a leader? Do I spend time with others who stimulate my intellect, challenge my assumptions, and support my growth?
While no one is perfect in all 11 areas, a frank and honest self-assessment will provide insights that may lead to significant personal leadership goals for the new year.
Richard Tyson is the founder, principal owner and president of CEObuilder, which provides forums for consulting and coaching to executives in small businesses.