Welcome to Business Leadership

You’ll find the 20% of leadership information that produces 80% of leadership results in this newsletter. This is well-researched leadership information that, when consistently implemented, will produce bottom-line results.

Performance and Development Strategists

Our newsletter series has been expanding on the theme of discretionary effort. Leaders can set the stage for employees choosing to give that extra effort. Manager who inspire the extra effort are:

1. Performance and development strategists 2. Solutions enablers 3. Learning experience architects 4. Opportunity brokers 5. Honest appraisers

Performance and Development Strategist

Managers who perform this role well take care to perform three key actions. First, they explain expected performance standards to employees. Criteria for success—and failure—are clear. Second, managers work with employees to create individualized performance plans. Finally, they ensure that the employee has the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed.

Performance Standards

Like many things in business, setting performance standards should follow the Goldilocks principle—not too hard, not too soft, just right. “Just right” must be adjusted to the job AND the person doing the job. As the person’s immediate manager, your relationship with the employee is key. You are the one who knows how to take the general job standards and convey them to the person you’re talking to in a way that they will get it.

Each employee thinks and learns differently. Some employees may prefer clear, specific standards while others work better when given the end goal of the work. While information from HR, such as job descriptions, competencies and required skills are certainly helpful, you, the immediate manager best adapt them to the person you’re working with.

In addition to spelling out the criteria for success, performance standards conversations also need to include a discussion of what constitutes failure. For example, your sales representatives have a performance goal of “x” dollars of revenue per year. I, as a sales rep, exceed “x” but I did it running rough shod over everybody. Did I succeed or fail? I succeeded, of course—unless you had a conversation with me spelling out that there was a wrong way to achieve “x.”

Development Strategist

This is simple. Give each person the opportunity to learn and the opportunity to use what they learn. BOTH are necessary. Development conversations should center around learning to:

  • Close skill and knowledge gaps in the present position
  • Anticipate new skills for changes in the present position such as technologies and/or responsibilities
  • Keep the person current in his/her field
  • Grow into a new position

Leaders may need to use a little creativity to find opportunities for employees to use what they’ve learned. Those opportunities may lie in temporary assignments to projects, cross functional teams or a different department.

The better leaders develop staff, the more bench strength for the company as a whole.

Join the dialogue on leadership

Expanded information, case studies, business applications and missed opportunities from the real world that you can use to further leadership development in your organization, is in our quarterly journal Leaders’ Work. For a sample issue, click here