To transform organisational culture great leadership is not optional. It’s not just about ‘what’ is being transformed but ‘how’.

That’s why in FY17 we hardcoded leadership performance metrics into our top 350 executive leaders’ performance reviews, and elevated leadership metrics to now sit alongside customer and financial results at the company’s regular business operations reviews as well as part of individuals’ performance.

In implementing this new leadership accountability, we found that there are five important factors to ensure success.

1) Defining what great looks like

Before leadership can be accurately measured, the standard needs to be set.

Values are a powerful way to guide decisions and behaviours, providing a true north so employees can be clear and consistent on what they expect of each other.

Over the past year we have embedded a common language and clear standards of behaviour aligned to each of our values, so that every leader, and every individual, knows exactly what’s expected of them.

It is from this values starting point that leadership performance can most accurately be measured.

2) Choosing metrics that matter

Leaders play a critical role in role modelling and building commitment to a company’s values – and values are core to business success, so aligning leadership performance to the values makes sense.

For leaders, measuring performance needs to include both self-assessment and feedback from team members, on how the values are showing up in key leadership areas including:

  • Ability to communicate frequently and effectively
  • Capacity to balance the needs of both people and business performance
  • Delivers what they say they will
  • Raises difficult issues with integrity
  • Articulates the company vision clearly and regularly, and how each individual contributes to that.

That last one is critical. An ability to create a sense of purpose is vital for leaders to create trust, to engage their team members and to lead through periods of change.

3) Scorecards

To drive change quickly, we have aligned executive business priorities through leadership scorecards. For us scorecards capture a leader’s big goals, desired behavioural shifts and a traffic light rating system, all on a single page.

In practice, this meant having the CEOLT and his team’s direct reports, all up around 100 leaders, in a room together to align Q1 goals before 1 July 2017.

We have just rolled this out to require all 1,800 of our senior leaders to create a quarterly scorecard and we run alignment sessions to sync up priorities across business units.

Embedding the simple discipline of leadership scorecards facilitates greater focus and momentum towards fewer performance goals, providing a clear and simple tool to measure individual performance each quarter.

4) Courageous conversations

As important though, is what leaders actually do with the feedback they get. No matter what the results, there is always the opportunity to learn and keep improving and as leaders, we need to actively engage to keep making positive change.

Having direct feedback supports leaders to sit down and engage in valuable conversations both up and down – with their own leader and also with the people they manage. The results create a clear basis for discussion about what’s working well and what needs improvement.

Data is one thing, but these conversations are where the richest input and leadership growth comes from. As part of that, leaders then need to agree on and commit to development plans based on the results.

5) Assessing progress

Given that people need time to make change, and then time for that change to be seen by others, leaders should make sure they take the time to assess their progress and discuss not only how they are going against their performance goals but also addressing leadership development opportunities every quarter. Relying solely on the annual review is not frequent enough.

But these check-ins don’t always need to be via formal feedback – just checking in with your team and manager and taking the time to personally reflect on how you are progressing is important.

A company’s values and standards of behaviour once set, are constant. A leaders’ performance against these is the variable, and a self-aware leader will check in with themselves, and their teams, frequently to ensure that they are making constant progress on the metrics that matter.

At Telstra, great leadership is a key ingredient to us becoming a world class technology company that empowers people to connect.

Measuring our leaders against our values is how we are holding ourselves and each other to account.

There are many great things about our culture and our people, however we know that great leadership must be real, it must be personal – and it must be measured.

Interested in a leadership career at Telstra? Find out what career paths are available to you.