One of the most difficult aspects of leadership remains measuring success. Leaders may work hard to improve their skills and become better at inspiring their followers, but how exactly does one measure success? In some ways, the definition of success depends on an individual’s personal goals and the vision of an organization. However, a number of key criteria exist that leaders can use to think more critically about their level of success and identify specific strengths and weaknesses in the approach that they have cultivated. While leaders need to think about their level of success in these areas in the context of their own definition of great leadership, these benchmarks can help inspire some critical thinking. Some of the most quintessential measures of leadership success include the following:
The most successful leaders have a clear sense of their personal values and ensure that everything they do aligns with those principles. Honesty and integrity result in a greater degree of trust between leaders and their employees. This trust is what allows people to form close relationships and do transformative work. To get a sense of their level of integrity, leaders may want to think about what would happen if their employees suddenly had access to all of their personal communications. Would the employees be surprised, or would the messages align with the vision of their leader that they already have? If leaders think that their employees would be surprised, they may want to reevaluate their ethics and the ways in which they communicate with their teams.
An essential skill for effective leadership is good communication. Team members should have a clear sense of what they need to do after having a conversation with their leader. If individuals feel like people frequently ask for clarification or deliver projects that don’t quite align with the direction given, they need to think about how they may have miscommunicated rather than placing the blame on employees. Communication also involves, at least to a degree, interpersonal skills. With strong interpersonal skills, leaders can develop the close relationships with their employees that are necessary for motivating individuals toward a goal.
Sometimes, leaders get caught up in the idea that success comes from constant work. In reality, individuals need to learn how to work more effectively rather than longer. Leaders who have no balance in their personal life are doing a disservice to their friends and family. Moreover, research has shown that individuals in this position often do not work as efficiently as those who take time to pursue their own passions and nourish personal relationships. Ideally, leaders should feel like they can be present when a loved one is in need. People who think that this would not be possible should examine the amount of control they think they must maintain at the office and try to develop better delegation and time-management skills.
Sense of Fulfillment
Successful leaders lead with purpose. These individuals are motivated by something outside of themselves, such as a desire to effect real change in the world. Sometimes, business leadership involves a lot of time away from one’s family. When people feel fulfilled by their work because it serves a greater purpose, this sacrifice feels worth it. Without such a feeling of fulfillment, leaders become resentful and may take out this resentment on their employees. Effective people love what they do and use their sense of fulfillment to motivate the people around them. People who do not feel fulfilled by their work may be in the wrong position or the wrong company, and making a change could bring greater success.
The best leaders surround themselves with the best and brightest employees that they can find and then treat these people with respect. In return, these employees have the same respect for their leaders. When leaders do not treat their employees with respect, resentment can build, as can insecurity and overall discontentment. These emotions drive down the level of productivity at a company and severely hurt the bottom line. Employees who do not feel respected will not respect their boss. Often, these individuals are motivated more out of fear than anything else. Fear is not an effective motivator.
Another critical marker of success among leaders is intuition. Great leaders are good judges of character and consistently make the right calls when it comes to intuiting people’s reactions. The most successful leaders see the hidden talent in people and give them the tools they need to live up to their full potential while also motivating them to do so. On the other hand, these leaders can also see when someone’s ambition outweighs his or her abilities and give that employee the support he or she needs to complete tasks successfully. When leaders make the wrong decisions more than a few times, the people around them may start to lose faith in them.