Report Card Questions: Reflections of an Executive
This is an excerpt from the President’s address to the GTE Directories Corporation (GTEDC) Senior Management Conference in 1985. GTE became part of Verizon and its telephone directories division was later spun off.
This address is a timeless classic that has never lost its relevance or power for those in leadership roles. Tom Lysaught, the President at that time, died in January 2012. I had the privilege of working with him, and he left an indelible mark on the organization, including guiding it to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and on those who knew him. He was a person who walked the talk, as reflected in several comments on the GTEDC Facebook page – sampled below.
He was a great leader and visionary for the company. He came to us at a perfect time to do great works. He was the nicest, friendliest GTEDC President. He was so genuine and down to earth – never met anyone who didn’t say the same. Great guy and great GTEDC leader! A good president and a darned good sport! Very few leaders have the abilities he had. He will be missed.
- Did I accomplish what I set out to accomplish a year ago?
Did I meet the goals that I set for myself and my organization?
- Did I give my people sufficient latitude to get the job done without unduly looking over their shoulders?
At the same time, did I stay close enough to help if they got off course?
- Did I constantly look for ways to stay lean and mean by reducing unnecessary staff, by eliminating bureaucracy, by keeping operating units at manageable size?
Did I follow the philosophy that “small is beautiful”?
- Did we stay close to our customers this year?
Did we listen to what they had to say?
And did we learn from it?
Did we ask our customers what they would like or what they needed that we were not currently providing?
- Did I continue to develop during the year as an individual and as a manager?
Did I improve my education, my experience, my effectiveness?
Did I encourage my employees to do the same?
Did I help them grow?
- Have I done a good job of communicating with the people who work for me?
Is that communication frequent, informal, and open?
Have I told my people often enough that they’ve done a good job and given them the proper recognition and praise?
Have I properly counseled with the ones who haven’t done a good job so that they can continue to grow and improve?
Did I give them the appropriate amount of feedback on job performance, or did I follow the “leave ‘em alone, then zap ‘em” technique?
- Have I clearly communicated the strategies and goals of the corporation to those who work for me, and did I share with them what I have been told about where the Company is going and what it is trying to achieve?
- Do I involve my people in the decisions that affect their lives and their jobs?
Are my decisions clear-cut and timely?
Have I set clear and concise priorities?
- Have I created an environment which is supportive of creativity and innovative thinking?
Am I truly open and receptive to new ideas? Do I encourage possibility thinking? Because, as you recall, what we expect is probably very close to what we get.
Did I foster a practical and intelligent level of risk taking in order to promote innovation and creativity?
Did I encourage my people to try new ideas without fear of reprisal if the ideas didn’t quite work out?
- Am I a good role model for the people who work for me?
Do I regularly demonstrate the “leadership imperative” values – creativity, vision, perseverance, courage, and a commitment to excellence, or do I do just enough to get the job done?
And do I promote an atmosphere of trust and then personally demonstrate that that trust is warranted?
- Did I engage in intelligent and thoughtful planning?
And did I implement my plans in an action-oriented way?
- Am I a visible manager – open and accessible? Or, am I “out on the track”?
Finally, did I treat the people that work for me with the dignity and respect that they deserve?
Did I listen to them and actually hear what they said?