Check on How You Are “Really Doing"

by  Hugh Ballou  |  Self Leadership

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get worse. – Lily Tomlin

How bad does it need to get before you do something about it (“IT” is the processes and systems in your organization)

In reading a post by Guy Kawasaki on the American Express OPEN Forum site, I found this comment, “Act like a prospective customer and call your company to see how the phone system and receptionist treat you.” It made me think about the systems I have implemented. Are they going as I perceive, or do they just appear to be effective?

Hmmm… How I can really check? This thought gave me a paradigm shift. It’s time to play the part of a customer or church member and look at the systems in my organization from their point of view. What a great idea!

So, develop feedback systems that are authentic and consistent. Don’t check once and think that it’s done. Develop a balanced scorecard to constantly evaluate your systems. This is not a reflection on the leader personally. It’s not a sign of failure. It’s simply a process check. Authenticity in leadership (an important Transformational Leadership trait) means that you eliminate the “elephant in the room” where everybody knows something is wrong, but nobody talks about it.

To be effective as a leader, you must establish systems to evaluate your systems. This is a great activity for teams and you may want to occasionally include consumers or members (for church or non-profit) in some of the discussions. Develop an effective evaluation system and then capture the concepts in an action plan to insure that are not having the same issues in the next evaluation.

Here’s a model that I use often with great success:


  1. What we do well or what is working;
  2. What needs changing;
  3. New things to consider.

These categories will provide you with ample material to work with.

By the way, be sure to develop strategies for changing the things that need changing and monitoring the change.

Photo iStockPhoto © Rade Lukovic

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What People Are Saying

Chuck Hebert  |  01 Mar 2011  |  Reply

Hugh, thanks for sharing this post. The thinking and reflective leader are such important traits. I especially like how you frame the evaluation in what IS and what IS NOT working. So many people look just at what doesn’t work. Recognizing the areas that are done well is not only good for morale but it shows what you should be doing more of. Of course, always important to fix the areas that need to be addressed. Thanks for sharing!!

Sonia Di Maulo  |  01 Mar 2011  |  Reply


So thrilled to meet a fellow Feedback Enthusiast! I absolutely LOVE this post.

Three sentences that spoke to me:

1. Develop feedback systems that are authentic and consistent.
2. To be effective as a leader, you must establish systems to evaluate your systems. This is a great activity for teams…
3. It’s not a sign of failure. It’s simply a process check.

I help teams and small organizations create what I call Feedback Strategies and in the process cultivate trust and collaboration! A strategy for how we learn, communicate, and get better together is rarely in place… and I agree that it is critical to “establish systems to evaluate your systems”. Building these strategies as a team helps to get everyone on board, to foster ownership, and to cultivate a strong focus on “getting better” and not on “failure”.
In the end it’s people that run systems and processes and it’s our use of them that make them work!

Thanks for sharing this critical post, esteemed fellow Feedback Enthusiast and Lead Change Contributor. I look forward to future connections!


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