The Makings of a Great Leader

Colorado Technical University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today we have a guest post from Lindsey Harper Mac who is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts about education and management on behalf of Colorado Technical University. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree.  This post has some great ideas about how to monitor progress towards the achievement of your organization’s strategic goals

The Makings of a Great Leader

Leading a team of diverse individuals toward a common goal is similar to flying an aircraft. Even if the plane is flying only one degree off course, it will land far from its desired destination if the pilot fails to correct the error. Under the same principle, a solid team of individuals originally set on the right path can drift away from their long-range goals over time. In such cases, it takes a strong, competent leader to identify the signs of drifting and help the team get back on track.

Becoming a Great Leader

Good leaders are those with solid people skills, dedication to the task and the ability to delegate effectively. However, good leaders are not always great leaders. While good leaders can usually accomplish a task satisfactorily, great leaders manage teams that go the extra mile. The difference between a good leader and a great leader is initiative and self-improvement.

Great leaders are the ones who purposefully seek out opportunities for leadership development, such as an educational program or leadership conference. By continuously developing their management skills, great leaders ensure that they always have the resources they need to supervise their teams effectively, review their progress regularly and keep them moving in the right direction.

Monitoring Progress

Good leaders know the benefits of setting a S.M.A.R.T. set of project goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are those that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. However, the greatest leaders realize that setting these goals is only the beginning. To ensure that the team continues to move toward and doesn’t drift off course, great leaders review the progress of the team on a regular basis.

Monitoring the team’s progress involves conducting regular, informal evaluations in order to detect variances in the team’s perception of the goals. Such reviews prevent the decay of the team’s common understanding of objectives, resource availability, timing and priorities. Below are some tips great leaders can use to evaluate the progress of their teams.

  • Control Point Charts. A control point chart is a graphical tool leaders can use to pinpoint variances in quality, cost or time. The chart is created using data from the project’s plan, as well as actual data collected during implementation. Using this data, leaders can identify discrepancies between projected values and actual values. For example, the chart may show that the team has spent more on a portion of the project than was originally budgeted.
  • Project Scheduling Controls. At the beginning of any project, good leaders create a timeline. By using project scheduling controls throughout the project, great leaders can compare the team’s actual progress at a given stage to the progress planned for that stage in the timeline. This allows the leader to identify delays early.
  • Group Feedback Sessions. When a segment of the project ends, the team leader can hold a group discussion with members of the team to learn more about their individual experiences during the project. During this session, the leader will gain valuable information that he can use to improve the team’s efficacy for the rest of the project.

A leader’s job doesn’t end when the goals are set and the project is moving. The best leaders are continuously improving their own leadership skills and regularly evaluating the progress of the team. By setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and ensuring that the team continues to work toward them throughout project, a leader can guide his team to the desired destination without unnecessary waste or delay.

About the author: Lindsey Harper Mac is a professional writer living in the Indianapolis area. She specializes in writing guest posts about education and management on behalf of Colorado Technical University. Currently, Lindsey is completing work on her master’s degree. 

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