Federal Coach

By Tom Fox, VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service

Blog archive

Federal Coach: Measuring your leadership success

(Fox's Federal Coach column was originally published on The Washington Post On Leadership site.)

What are the measures of success for a leader? - Federal manager from the U.S. Department of the Air Force

While the specific approach will vary based on a federal leader’s agency, position and personal and professional goals, I believe there are three broad measures of success that a leader can use: program measures, people measures and personal measures.

Program measures

Although it can be difficult, you need to capture your team’s results. As a federal leader, it’s important that you and your team are delivering the very best results possible for the American public — whether you are managing research and analysis, customer service or regulation.

In addition to your team’s primary outcomes, consider examining your team’s operational efficiency using measures such as on-time and on-budget delivery of your work. This information will not only tell you whether you’re doing a good job, but it will help you make the same case to your senior leaders and external stakeholders.

People measures

Too often leaders overlook ways to measure employee satisfaction, commitment and engagement at work in favor of program measures. While program measures may capture the attention of your agency’s senior leaders, inspectors general, the Government Accountability Office and Congress, it’s important to remember that good government starts with good people. If you want to deliver program results, you need to put your people first.

There are some pretty good people measures that you can use, including the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) annual survey of federal employees and the Partnership for Public Service’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings. Both provide insights into employee engagement and satisfaction, and the workforce views of agency leadership.

You also can use a 360-degree assessment, which is a targeted, anonymous survey collecting feedback from your employees, colleagues and superiors. This is a particularly helpful tool since it measures both the strength of your working relationship with employees and with some of your key stakeholders. As a federal leader you need to be aware of your employees’ and colleagues’ perceptions of you and the organization, as effective leadership requires building working relationships with others, persuading them to support your initiatives and using your personal credibility to overcome obstacles.

Personal measures

Part of being a good leader is being a good person — to yourself, your friends and family, as well as your colleagues. It’s vital to your health and your effectiveness as a leader that you find the time to refresh yourself whether it’s through exercise, a hobby, vacation or a combination of them all. By taking time to have better work-life balance, you are not only helping yourself as a leader, but you are also sending a positive message to your employees about the importance of finding balance in their lives.

Posted by Tom Fox, VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service on Jul 02, 2011 at 4:02 PM

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