Born to Succeed Insights

The Importance Of Leaders Clearly Defining Success

Is your team clear on what success looks like?

Team members clearly knowing what success looks like and being invested in that success are two key elements to a winning team.  As a manager and leader, your job is to make sure success clarity happens so your team will truely care about achieving winning outcomes. With clarity comes understanding, buy in, motivation and confidence in where the team is heading.

As a leader, you are judged on your teams’ outcomes but so often your team doesn’t really know what a successful outcome looks like because you haven’t defined it or they don’t really understand what you mean by it.

To make sure they know; you must first start with you. You need to unearth what is in your head by being able to answer the following 4 questions.

  1. What does success look like for my team in 3 months? In 6 months? In 12 months? 

When your team knows what success looks like it can help take away misunderstandings in what the team is working toward. Imagine a scenario where you didn’t clearly define success for launching a new product site. On the day of the launch, you get 10,000 views. If you, as the leader, were expecting 20,000 views but never defined that to your team, you might be disappointed, but your team could be ecstatic when viewing the same data. Take the time define overall success and revisit it often with the team.

  1. What does a successful week look like for each of my direct reports?

To answer this question, you need to understand each of your employees. Too often we focus on the team as a unit, but to get the best out of your entire team you need to know what motivates each team member and how they see success. As you work to uncover this information you may find misalignments which becomes an opportunity to have deeper more meaningful conversations with team members about priorities.

  1. What could get in the way of a successful outcome?

Leaders who are driven and believe their goals are clear sometimes forget to ask themselves “What could get in the way of a successful outcome?” Maybe your team doesn’t know what good work looks like. Maybe your team needs more training to succeed. Or maybe you don’t have the right people in the right roles to succeed. Without doing this analysis you could stumble even with the best laid plans.

  1. What are my expectations for each person on my team and do they understand them?

I sometimes work with new leaders who are preparing to give difficult feedback to a team member. Often, the reason this conversation is so difficult is that expectations were not properly set up front. It’s hard to tell someone they are not meeting expectations when they didn’t know the expectation. Difficult feedback should never be a surprise if expectations are understood.

Once you can answer these questions and clearly communicate what success looks like, you will be ready to propel you and your team to successful outcomes.

Jill Bornstein is the Founder of Upnext Leadership Coaching and an ICF ACC Executive Coach. She focuses on developing High Potentials, New Leaders, New Managers and New Executives who have exciting, important or daunting goals so they can achieve them and soar to success. 

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