If you lead for long enough, you will without doubt identify with a failed project or missed results that you or your management team have been responsible for at some stage of your career.
Alas, poor performance is a fact of leadership and we need to learn from the mistakes involved and get over them.
Poor performance comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, from missed deadlines. Substandard work quality. Conflicts among your team resulting in them falling short of goals. In fact, whatever it is that leads to a direct result of the project or objective failing, it will inevitably fall in the leaders lap.
when things go wrong.
So often, poor performance can be traced to a failure of leadership and not necessarily the fault of the people involved. As I have gained more experience as a leader, I am more introspective that I have actually been the problem that caused the failure.
When things go off piste, I pause and ask myself the following questions –
Did I set clear and reasonable expectations?
Maybe the team did not know what success was supposed to look like? Did I paint an outcome that people understood? Did I do my best to link the need to the company or department strategy? Or, was I ambiguous and foggy about what I was looking for?
Did I accurately assess the ability and willingness of the person or team of performing the task or project before making the assignment?
Is the person or team able and willing and do they have the training, tools and resources required? Had they done the task before? Or, did I ask a great I.T Technician with no surgical training to do open heart surgery?
Did I properly clear any blockades organizationally that may be in the way of achieving the outcomes expected?
Did I communicate the project organizationally or departmentally? Did I oil any squeaky hinges that may present unnatural obstacles to get the project or results I was looking for? During the effort, did I respond appropriately when a person or team came to me seeking assistance or did I let the team struggle?
Did I periodically check in and provide assistance and nudges along the way?
How often did I check in on the progress? When I did check in and sensed the project was wobbling, did I give correct guidance, explanation, encouragement or observation? did I ask the right questions to nudge the people and project along the right path? Or, did I wait to the last minute and then act as judge, jury and executioner when the goals or outcomes were missed?
It all boils down to taking accountability as a leader.
The next time your team blows a project or misses a goal, check those fingers that are pointing back in your direction.