What Difference Does Your Leadership Make?

I often coach leaders on enhancing their leadership capability and I am always on the lookout for great resources to enhance my own learning. I have recently really been enjoying a book by Bill Eckstrom called “The Coaching Effect” and wanted to share with you one of the key concepts it reviews on recognising the value you bring to your team as a leader.

Eckstrom puts forward the view that as a leader you are there to coach and maximise the outcomes from the individuals within your team. To understand the value you bring to your team as their coach, you therefore need to ask yourself as a leader the following question: Will people on my team still do their job without me there?

We would all hope that the answer is yes! If a Sales Manager goes on holiday, we would expect that the sales team who work under that leader will still show up for work and continue to sell. So, the question is, if your team can still do their jobs without you – why are you there?

If a team can still do their job without you, the value that you bring to an organisation as a leader is measured by how much better the team will do their jobs with you there as their leader. If you are a Sales Manager, your value equals how much more your team sells because of you.

The additional amount produced by a team because of a leader is called discretionary effort. It’s how much more work gets done, how much a team’s efficiency increases, how much a team’s quality improves, or how much more is produced because of that leader.

Some leaders can create discretionary effort with fear. But this only occurs for short periods of time and is not sustainable. Though fear can create growth, it is not a healthy way to achieve it and over time, fear will likely lead to a low growth, chaotic environment.

However, interestingly, research does show a high correlation between high performing teams and leaders who create healthy discomfort for those on their team.

Some leaders can be described as nice and feel their leaders have created a comfortable team environment in which to work. But interestingly, nice leaders don’t obtain nearly as much discretionary effort as high growth leaders/coaches who create discomfort. If a leader is simply nice, they are not creating the healthy tension, the discomfort, that leads to optimal performance. They are not pushing their team members outside their comfort zones to get them to grow.

So as a leader, I put to you – what is the “discretionary effort” you are creating for your team? What is the value of your contribution as a leader? Is this clear to you? Could you measure it?