10 Point Leadership Diagnostic Tool
When patients come into my clinic with a medical complaint, I go through a mental checklist to diagnose their condition and provide treatment. If a 55-year-old male, who is a smoker with high blood pressure and diabetes, comes in with a complaint of chest pain, I first rule out a heart condition, then lung disease, then reflux, arthritis, pain-producing rash, and so on. The same complaint from a healthy 23-year-old evokes a different list of possible causes. After years of training as a doctor, health symptoms naturally trigger an immediate diagnostic checklist in my mind. Years of leadership study and practice has a similar effect on me.
So, let’s take a common leadership complaint: My organization (team, family, church, etc.) is not growing in breadth or depth.
If this resonates with you, would you allow me to be your “leadership doctor” and go through a leadership diagnostic checklist with you? I know the agony of leadership. You work hard. You worry. You toil. You feel bad. At times, whatever you try doesn’t seem to work. I have been there before and learned a few lessons along the way. Let’s go through this list together like we would if you came into my clinic with a complaint of chest pain. Let’s assess the reasons that may be causing this decline or cessation of growth in your organization.
1. You are not making time to think.
I placed this at the top of the list because I see it as a very common problem with us, as leaders. We become so busy that we just don’t make time to do calm, productive thinking. When you let the thrill of action replace the discipline of thinking, you and your organization will be in trouble.
Think alone. Think with others. Just have consistent, relaxed thinking time. Thinking takes tremendous discipline. It requires you to stop and be still. Stopping to think could result in temporary production losses because you may have to pause the action. But in the long-run, it will prove to be invaluable toward your overall growth and success. Block time daily or weekly just for thinking.
2. You are experiencing vision problems.
- The vision is not clear. So often our vision is fuzzy to us. We know we want to build a great organization. We may want a lot of members or clients, or desire to build a world-class team. Parts of our vision may be clear, but we often fail to produce an endpoint that is clear in its entirety. Friend, clear means simple. Clear means easy to understand and internalize at a gut level. We must be diligent to re-clarify the vision periodically. Vision is like a windshield in changing weather. It tends to fog up often, so we need to turn on the wipers or defrost the glass.
- The vision is not inspiring. Your vision must be inspiring to you first. Moreover, it must be inspiring to others if you want great people to join and stay with you. Your vision must be grand enough for people to want to be a part of it. Everyone wants to play a role in a success story.
- You are not dedicated to the vision. What are you willing to give up to see your vision through? If you’re not willing to give up much, the people with you will not either. When you believe in the vision, and give it your heart and dedicated effort, it will come to pass.
- You are not inviting others to join you. This is a very common mistake that leaders make. Friend, if the vision is yours alone, then it will be you alone trying to accomplish it. Make your vision, our vision. Having people buy into your vision rests on two core elements. First, do they buy into you, as the leader? Second, have they been invited to participate in shaping the vision? If the answer is yes to these two questions, your odds of having others come along with you is much higher.
3. You are not bringing the best people along to join you.
If you bring mediocre people to join you—with mediocre skills, mediocre maturity, and mediocre experience—you will have mediocre results. The best teams recruit the best people.
4. Your relationships are poor.
This is a very common symptom of a lack of growth. Building a strong team is dependent on a culture of strong personal (not just professional) relationships. When you consider your coworker a friend, someone you trust, you are much more likely to be creative and productive with them. Healthy relationships begin with the leader. Demonstrate to others how relationships are fostered, maintained, and grown. Then expect it in others.
5. You are not cultivating a culture of growth and training.
Bring the best people on board, then grow them. It is not enough to merely add great people to your team. You must also make a concerted effort to aggressively grow them in every facet possible. Training. Reading. Presenting. Writing. Insist on growth in every area that is applicable to your team. Make sure developing yourself and your people become an expected part of your culture. Not once a year. Not once a month. Constantly and consistently. Do it together. And send them to get training alone, as well. Have them come back and teach you and everyone else what they have learned.
6. You are not consistently communicating with people.
There are so many books on change management. I find all these change principles to be good, but I believe one principle supersedes them all. Communicate. But here is the key. You must maintain a system of communication that is regular and expected. Meet with your team consistently and discuss issues. Leave sensitive matters to be discussed one-on-one, then bring it up in a group discussion. Otherwise, you can lose control with high emotions and debates. I am a proponent of each leader aiming to meet with their team members one-on-one, on a weekly basis. When communication is part of your culture, any growth initiatives or change can be accomplished with so much more ease.
7. You are not creating a culture that values teamwork.
Creating strong teams is the cornerstone of your success. Study teamwork. Read books about it. Practice proven team-building principles. Successful teams are built on cultures of solid relationships between team members. Bringing a team together begins with combining people who have natural harmony, similar values, and work ethics. When leaders bring on the most qualified people without consideration for how they will blend with the team, this rarely works. It’s our responsibility as leaders to weigh all these things, hold each of member accountable to their roles and relationships among the team. If someone is consistently tearing the team down, we must remove them. It’s that important.
8. You have not created scalable systems.
If you have not taken the time to complete the mundane process of defining and refining your processes in a written fashion, you will not grow. Make the time to implement standards and means by which to measure successes or failures. These systems must be applicable and easy to follow.
9. Your business model is poor.
Be practical. The whole premise of your vision and strategy may not be workable. Have the courage to ask whether what you are attempting is actually a good idea. Follow your gut, your intuition, and your heart. Then be brave enough to listen to the nay-sayers, the realists, and those who tell it like they see it. Let all these things become tools to help you shape a vision that is both inspiring and doable.
10. You are not watching the bottom line.
If your organization is not built on a strong financial foundation, everything can come to a screeching halt. Watch your cash flow. Watch your revenue trends. Don’t stick your head in the sand when it comes to the finances. Otherwise, your whole organization will be washed away like a sand castle.
If you are not experiencing the growth you would like, identify which of these symptoms may be contributing to your decline. And begin treating them, just the way you would treat your body back to health. Let’s see our teams and organizations thrive!
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