Improvement — in any position in any organization — begins with and is dependent on periodic feedback and performance evaluation. Without the objective assessment that comes with these two elements, attention to areas in need of focus is limited. Improvement is left to the realizations that arise from self-reflection.
It is a paradox that organizational health is most tied to effectiveness at the top of the pyramid, while formal evaluation systems are typically utilized only to assess the work of those lower in the structure.
All serious leaders need feedback.
Yet, whether the byproduct of pride, insecurity or simple organizational oversight, few in leadership roles actually receive regular objective assessments of performance.
What A Leadership Evaluation System Looks Like
In a recent post on Bloomberg Law, Donald Mrozek does a great job of describing an approach to scoring the performance of managing partners. It is a worthwhile read for all who have accepted the fact that evaluation is needed.
I don’t have any quibble with the specific evaluation criteria or weighting described by Mr. Mrozek, though I would suggest the specifics should probably vary by the particular needs of the organization and its priorities. That said, there are three areas in which all leaders routinely need feedback. If nothing else, Managing Partners should seek to determine how the members of the firm feel about their effectiveness on three fronts.
- Vision, values and strategy. An effective firm leader ensures these components are developed, communicated, and understood throughout the firm.
- Progress. A leader ensures that core organizational objectives are clearly understood, are delegated, and met.
- People and needs. The effective leader stays in touch with the “heartbeat” of the organization. This is an intentional process that incorporates listening to a broad cross section, probing diverse perspectives, and engaging in what are often difficult conversations.
A leadership-evaluation system need not be public. A private and confidential communication from the firm’s owners to the leader that objectively reviews the job being done by those elected to serve, and provides constructive thoughts on areas for focus. The truth is that effective leaders embrace feedback, value insight from peers, and seek accountability.
Does your firm provide formal feedback to its leader? If not, why not?