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Soup up your firm’s performance

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

At its most basic level, leadership is measured by getting things done. That’s why leaders have to be performance-driven in everything.

Or, as former IBM chief Lou Gerstner Jr. once said, vision statements help you aspire but they’re useless at turning a goal into a reality. For that, you need strategies such as these:
  1. Get buy-in at the top. To accomplish almost any big goal, put it on the boardroom agenda, work it into executive structures and make it relevant for your operational team. Run the top dogs through risks and opportunities, major trends and performance targets. Lay out what tools the team uses to stay ahead of the game. Keep the company’s purpose front and center.

  2. Set clear targets and measures. Explicit measurements help keep everybody driving toward the goal. They’re essential to managers for planning and making decisions. Sadly, research shows that the metrics in most organizations aren’t aligned with their real goals and depend on out-of-date indicators. You need accurate feedback.

  3. Tell the world how you’re doing. Putting your results out there for external consumption helps you attract capital by giving investors and creditors the information they need. It also keeps the government off your back and wins public endorsement of your brand. But to remain credible, your organization needs to be truthful.

  4. Keep learning.You’ve heard the talk about “getting out of your comfort zone.” That means building internal networks to share good practices and reaching out to your stakeholders —customers, funders, whomever—to guide you.
Examples: Nike’s former contact with the Global Alliance for Workers and Communities about factory working conditions and McDonald’s relationship with the Environmental Defense Fund helped both companies to keep moving forward.

—Adapted from Profits with Principles, Ira Jackson and Jane Nelson, Currency Doubleday.

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