One of the most difficult aspects of leadership is to know how you’re doing as a leader.
Add a little insecurity into the mix, and it makes things even more complex.
Naturally, you’ll get feedback from your peers and probably get an occasional 360 review (both great practices).
But beyond that, how can you tell how you’re doing as a leader?
There’s a way to check that’s much simpler than you might think. By asking yourself five simple questions, you can not only get an accurate gauge of how you’re doing, but also where you need to improve.
WHY THIS MATTERS (LEADERSHIP AND SELF-DELUSION)
I find a lot of leaders are not clear on how well they’re leading.
This falls into two categories:
Leaders who overestimate how well they’re doing.
Leaders who underestimate how well they’re doing.
Both are problematic for different reasons.
If you think you’re doing better than you are, you’re the last person to realize you need to improve.
And if you think you’re not doing as well as you actually are, then you likely have potential you have not yet tapped into.
So getting a reasonably accurate check in on the quality of your leadership is critical to help you lead with all diligence.
5 EASY WAYS TO CHECK YOUR LEADERSHIP EFFECTIVENESS
The following questions form five quick shoulder checks you can do.
As with all self-assessment, there are limits on how accurate it will be. But my guess is as you work through these questions in the next few minutes you’ll know a lot more about your leadership than you might predict.
So, to gauge your leadership, as honestly as you can, answer these five questions:
1. IS ANYONE FOLLOWING YOU?
One of the best ways to tell whether you’re a leader is simply this: Look over your should to see if anyone’s following.
If no one’s following (or only a few are), you’re really not leading.
It doesn’t matter how many leadership books you read, how many webinars you do or how grandiose your vision might be, a leader without followers is not actually a leader.
While we all get touchy about this in leadership, the reality is leaders lead people. (This post explains why some leaders have a higher number of followers than others.)
So who is following you? Be honest.
2. WHO’S FOLLOWING YOU?
That you have followers is one thing, but the next thing to check is the kind of person following you.
High capacity leaders will attract other high capacity people.
The caliber of the people around you points to the caliber of leader you are.
Again, this isn’t always a fun question to answer, but it can become a springboard to progress.
If you don’t like what you find, ask yourself why higher capacity leaders don’t follow your lead.
And then take the steps you need to take to change that.
3. WHO ARE YOU FOLLOWING?
It’s not just a question of who follows you, but also a question of who you’re following.
I’m not talking about the podcasts you listen to, the blogs or books you read or the conferences you attend. Our celebrity culture has created a mass following mentality that allows many people to follow influential leaders almost effortlessly. I’m not slamming this.
I read and listen to leading voices all the time and love going to great events. I’m in when it comes to that.
But I think it’s easy to develop a false intimacy with these influential leaders, thinking we know them when in fact we’ve never met them and in all likelihood never will.
While you can learn from people you read or listen to, even more important are the people you actually hang out with.
On that note, ask yourself:
With whom do I spend the most time personally?
Who’s building into me, personally?
Who’s mentoring me?
Do the people I spend the most time with represent the kind of leader I want to be in five years?
Are the people closest to me helping me grow into the leader God has called me to be?
If the answers to these questions bother you, change the circle of people you hang out with.
Find some leaders and mentors who can help you realize your potential. Seriously, send an email today to someone who can do these things for you before you close this blog post.
Know why this is so important?
As Jim Rohn says, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
4. ARE YOUR FOLLOWERS LEADING OTHERS?
I’ve added these last two questions to my list recently because I think what used to be implied isn’t that obvious anymore.
With the dominance of social media, it’s never been easier to gain followers or draw a crowd, in person or online.
Having followers is one thing.
The real question is this: Are you equipping the people who follow you to lead others?
Having a tribe that likes you, listens to you or appreciates you isn’t really leadership.
Leading that tribe to become better people, to move the mission forward, to grow, stretch and lead others in the cause or create their own causes—that’s leadership.
If your followers only follow you, you’re not really a leader. True leaders develop other leaders.
5. IS YOUR LEADERSHIP ABOUT SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOU?
One final question. Because you can create a personal brand and draw a crowd in a second these days, it’s easier than ever to make the mission about you.
And I shared in point 4, above, if you’re leading, don’t just cultivate fans, make the people in your orbit better because they know you.
The best way to do that is to ensure the mission isn’t about you. You are not a cause worthy enough for anyone to give their life to. Neither, of course, am I.
If you’re a church leader, this is easy because we have the best mission in the world. Point to it. Live for it. Make your mission all about THE mission.
If you’re a marketplace leader, I promise that you need a cause bigger than you, your company or the bottom line. You need a reason to exist, a problem that’s so big it’s worth giving your life to.
That might be excellent customer service, or products that make people’s lives better, or curing a disease, or crafting amazing experiences for people…or whatever. But it can’t just be about your bottom line.
This article originally appeared here.