Leadership? I’m off to the beach

Forget performance reviews. There are better ways to lead.


Dump the performance review. Everyone hates them and there are better ways to lead.

I’ve just received an email from my assistant encouraging me to go to the beach. No kidding. It was actually more of a directive rather than encouragement. When discussing what I had on my plate she said to me: “I’m here to help you. You shouldn’t be doing this stuff. Let me take it all off you. You should be at the beach.”

I don’t exactly know what I’ve done to deserve such insight, commitment and loyalty from my people. I shared this with my partner and he said: “Are you kidding? You’ve mastered leadership. You don’t manage them, you lead them. You’ve set them free to do what they’re best at and, in turn, they’re setting you free.”

I’m a leader by accident. It’s more like I’m no good at management, and the paradox is that I’m great at leading. As an entrepreneur, the details don’t interest me, but driving the growth of the business through my people does.

Want to be a great leader? Here are my tips:

Get really clear on outcomes. From day one, I set expectations about people’s roles. I ask my team members to go away and set their own key performance indicators, then they bring those back so we can consult on them together. Naturally there are always amendments, but we keep going until there is no uncertainty about what is expected of them.

When setting outcomes, get specific. You should see numbers, dates, percentages – barometers that are clearly measurable and eliminate any subjectivity.

Let your people work out how to achieve their outcomes. I would have no idea how my team members reach their goals. What I’m interested in is whether they are achieved. Let creativity flourish: your people will love that you trust them, allow them to express themselves and just get on with it.

Review often. Everyone hates the annual performance review. So, chunk it down and review more regularly. These one-on-one sessions with your people reveal issues more quickly, rather than waiting to hear them at review time. It’s also an excellent way to keep motivation up. Find little achievements so your people know you’re watching and appreciate them, and when reviewing, be sure to praise more than you criticise.

Practice immediacy. If you’re unhappy, talk about it now. Don’t wait until the “right time” to address it. This will only build resentment in your relationship with your team.

Right people, right roles. When you know the person isn’t right, cut the cord. I used to wait for months and months before having the “it’s not working” conversation. Now, I’m straight up and my team respects that.

See you later. I’m off to the beach.


Lisa Cook writes:  A fantastic short article that all managers/leaders with a group of Gen-Y’s should read and use! Especially communication — a must.

Jospehine writes: Great blogging Emma! If only we could all run businesses like this. I am a small enterprise and I admire your approach to “driving the growth” of your business. One day, I too hope to have the commitment and loyalty of my employees to the extent that they insist I go the beach instead of turning up to work. You are an inspiration.



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