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Consider your business' performance

Posted: November 12, 2008 11:18 p.m.
Updated: November 13, 2008 4:59 a.m.
The current economic situation and the time of year may call into question the performance of business owners. Was it a good year? Was it a bad year? Why? How could it have been better? Why didn't the objectives get achieved? What problems surfaced that the organization was unprepared for?

The list of questions is endless when it comes to playing the blame game. There is no shortage of targets, either, usually starting at the top and working their way down the organizational chart.

Unfortunately, it is the nature of those in charge to focus on what didn't happen as opposed to what did.

That restless nature of being an owner is sometimes a blessing because it means perseverance, dedication and focus. But some years just surviving is a cause for celebration!

Not enough owners take time to celebrate their own successes or their own performance. It is assumed if revenue is up and profits are increasing, the leader is doing his or her job. But it isn't just about money.

Maybe a good way to establish how things are really happening as an owner is to perform a self-assessment away from the day-to-day demands of the business. Da Vinci said: "Every now and then go away. To remain constantly at work will diminish your judgment. Go some distance away, because work will be in perspective and a lack of harmony is more readily seen."

A January 2007 Harvard Business Review article titled "What to Ask the Person in the Mirror" provides an excellent primer upon which every leader should reflect. Here are some questions from that article as well as some additional queries that should cause additional reflection on what the role and responsibilities of an owner should be.

n What is the vision of the organization?

n How can the vision be described in such a way that everyone in the organization can understand and repeat it when asked?

n How often do I, as the leader, communicate this vision for my business?

n What are my three to five key priorities to achieve the vision?

n Have I communicated these key priorities to achieve that vision throughout the organization?

n If asked, would my employees be able to articulate the vision and the priorities?

n Does the way I spend my time match my key priorities?

n Is how my direct reports spend their time matching the key priorities of the business?

n Am I, as the leader, coaching my direct reports and giving them challenging assignments?

n Have I, as the leader, become a bottleneck in decision-making for the company?

n If I, as the leader, had to design my business with a clean piece of paper, how would I design it?

n What types of events create pressure for me as the leader of this organization?

n When I, as the leader, am under pressure, what signals am I sending to my employees?

n Are the signals I send helpful or do they undermine the success of my business?

n Do I, as a leader, assert myself sufficiently or have I become more tentative since my last self-evaluation?

n Am I decisive enough?

Kenneth W. Keller is president of Renaissance Executive Forums in Valencia. His column reflects his own view and not necessarily that of The Signal.


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