June 20


How Do You Measure Your Effectiveness as a Leader?

By Sara Canaday

June 20, 2023

business leaders, career success, leadership, leadership development, leadership skills

During my time working in the corporate world, I did everything I possibly could to be a productive, efficient leader. I focused on developing high-performing teams, and I was diligent about ensuring everyone met their deadlines and key metrics. Plus, I wanted to make sure whatever I did made my boss look good. Sometimes that’s half the battle, right?

In retrospect, my evaluation filter was quite limited.

While all those factors are certainly meaningful, I’ve discovered that true leadership effectiveness covers a much broader spectrum—and some of the best “measuring sticks” are not necessarily quantifiable in the traditional sense of the word. I want to highlight several of those today.

1.    Translating the vision into an actionable reality.

Highly effective leaders have an uncanny way of bringing a corporate vision statement to life. It’s easy for employees to think about the company vision as a pie-in-the-sky statement that doesn’t directly apply to what they do every day. Great leaders know how to bridge that gap.

They articulate the vision in vivid terms and provide the context needed for team members to see how their contributions fit into the big picture. Once they have that perspective, they become much more excited about participating in the journey. Being able to translate that vision for the future motivates teams to work toward a common goal and aligns everyone with the larger purpose.

2.    Inspiring and engaging team members.

Effective leaders have impeccable communication skills and know how to positively influence others. They can clearly explain goals, provide compassionate feedback, build trust, and encourage collaboration. As masterful storytellers, they also have the capacity to inspire others through powerful stories that resonate deeply.

Being able to ignite passion for reaching a shared objective might sound like a qualitative characteristic, but its bottom-line impact is substantial. The verbal and nonverbal communication of these leaders measurably contributes to the success of the organization.

3.    Nurturing growth and development.

When team members feel valued for the skills they bring to the table, they perform at peak levels. Efficient leaders understand that, and they invest heavily in the growth and development of their employees. These leaders make an ongoing effort to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and career goals of their team members. They create an atmosphere of continuous learning, often providing coaching and mentorship opportunities to help workers be fully prepared for current—and future—positions with the company.

The distinction here is the ability of leaders to balance the focus on reaching corporate goals with empowering individuals to reach their full potential. When they do that, it’s a complete game-changer.

4.    Making connections.

Yes, networking is part of this—but definitely not all of it. Effective leaders seamlessly connect their team members with information, resources, and contacts that elevate their ability to perform. Is there someone in a different department facing the same challenge? Do you know about a database that would dramatically simplify their research? Who else could provide targeted assistance? By creating a robust ecosystem of shared knowledge and support, these leaders can give their employees the best possible chance to succeed.

5.    Fostering innovation.

Another hallmark of effective leaders is their capacity to suspend the pressures of the daily grind that cause our brains to shift into auto-pilot and land us in a rut. They know how to step outside the constant motion so they can think creatively about how to solve problems in a fresh way. These leaders seek out new perspectives and encourage a culture that rewards new thinking. They aren’t afraid to take calculated risks and they don’t penalize those that try on new practices. That attitude enables them to propel their teams forward and create an environment where small wins are celebrated and small failures are tolerated (even encouraged).

Admittedly, it’s much easier to measure the effectiveness of leaders by looking at their quantifiable deliverables—monthly sales targets, net promoter scores, business objectives met, on-time deadlines, projects completed. While those are all critical, truly exceptional leaders also perform at high levels with skills that aren’t directly tied to tangible outcomes. Interestingly enough, they frequently find those facets of the job to be the most fulfilling.

It’s a tall order to succeed on both the quantitative and qualitative side of the leadership fence, but it can make an enormous difference. That’s why using broader measures to evaluate your leadership effectiveness can give you a much more accurate picture of the impact you are having on others.

How do you measure leadership effectiveness? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until Next Time,

Sara Canaday

About the author

Sara began her journey working full-time while she earned an MBA. As she climbed the ladder of corporate America, she repeatedly observed a surprising phenomenon: the most successful people weren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQ or best job skills. She recognized instead that career advancement was much more closely linked with how people applied their knowledge and talents — their capacity to collaborate, communicate, and influence others.

Today, Sara is happily fulfilling that commitment as a keynote speaker, author, and executive coach. These venues have given her the opportunity to mentor and support thousands of people in diverse situations, inspiring many of them to move from insight to action with dramatic career results.

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