One Tool Every Leader Needs

How do you keep score as a leader? What key metrics ultimately determine whether you are winning or not? Several years ago, my coach asked me questions like these and others. I had to confess, I wasn’t sure I had good answers for him. His conclusion was: What key numbers does your leader hold you accountable to achieve?
I believe every leader needs a scorecard. I would take that a step further and say every team and every organization needs one, too. A scorecard is a wonderful, multi-faceted tool. Think of it as a Swiss army knife for a leader. With a well-conceived scorecard, a leader can do the following:
Create focus – The world most of us find ourselves leading in is growing in complexity. This trend is not likely to subside. We are bombarded by facts, figures, data, analysis, and opinion. When you as a leader establish a scorecard, you are not discounting other metrics. Rather, you are establishing priority. You are declaring what a win looks like. You are telling everyone what is most important.
Monitor progress – A scorecard is like a dashboard on a car. You have critical gauges constantly being monitored. You can watch your fuel level, your oil pressure, your speed, and your mileage. In today’s cars, you can even chart your course using a GPS. A scorecard should include critical metrics to allow you to know how you are progressing on your journey.
Foster accountability – In most organizations, people are assigned accountability for specific goals and the metrics that inform them. In some cases, an entire organization can be accountable for a set of metrics. My current team has five goals we all share. We look at our scorecard constantly. We are just now completing our mid-year performance conversations, and our scorecard fuels these conversations.
Evaluate effectiveness – Is your work making a difference? Is the plan you devised to improve your performance actually working? How will you know if you don’t measure outcomes? A scorecard is a great tool to determine if you need to make adjustments to the play you called. Imagine a football team whose scorecard (scoreboard) indicates they are behind at halftime. This information informs the game plan for the second half. If they are winning by 3 touchdowns, they will likely stay the course!
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Celebrate progress – Here’s the blinding flash of the obvious for today: Work is hard. That’s just one reason leaders look for legitimate reasons to celebrate. An uptick on key metrics is a wonderful opportunity to stop and say "thanks for your extra efforts; look, what we are doing is working – keep it up." Without data, without an agreed upon set of metrics, you miss a golden opportunity to acknowledge the people who make it all possible.
Declare victory – I love goals, big and small alike. Goals bring out the best in most people. If the goals are relevant, known, pursued with purpose, and meaningful, people will go to great lengths to accomplish them. There is something innately powerful about striving and achieving. Include goals on your scorecard and watch people move towards them. Including goals on your scorecard allows you to declare victory when you cross the finish line–another reason to celebrate.
If you don’t have a scorecard, stay tuned. Over the next two weeks, I will write about an approach that will help you create a scorecard capable of all you've just read about and more! [GLS_Shield]


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