Observing Leaders and Managers in the Wild

Orange Line.png

We have all been involved in the perennial comparison of “Leader versus Manager”. I have even created multiple lists outlining the differences; however, I have realized that there aren’t many real-life examples demonstrating the differences between the two. Over the last few months, I have been observing all kinds of business situations that clearly demonstrate both leader and manager behaviours.


Last week I witnessed a great example of the difference between leaders and managers in a recruiting interview. A VP, Manager, Team Leader and HR Advisor met with the candidate. The interview was led by the Manager and Team Leader. They were organized and methodical in their approach and their mandate was clear; fill the vacancy with the best candidate. The questions asked were well crafted and thoughtful to ensure the best fit for the empty box on the org chart. By all accounts, it was a well-managed process.


At the end of the interview, the VP caught-up with the candidate in the hallway and invited her for a coffee later that week.


Here was his explanation for the coffee:


“I am not as worried about which ‘bucket’ you fit into, but rather how many ‘buckets’ you can fit into to help the organization.”


This was a great example of thinking like a leader.

Is a scorecard just a scorecard?

Orange Line.png

As many of you know, the scorecard is one of my favourite things in business. However, every time I introduce the idea of a scorecard I am faced with groans, dropped shoulders, crossed arms and an immediate change of subject! Why is this?


What do people have against scorecards?

  • The fear of being measured unfairly or on things in which they have no control
  • They take time to produce and lack accuracy
  • People are unclear on how the numbers are measured
  • The numbers don’t matter to them
  • They feel they are being micro-managed


So how do we set up a scorecard so that it’s useful?


A big part of finding value is using a scorecard correctly. Here are few keys to success:


  • The scorecard should contain measures that matter to the people using it, and they should pick them
  • Review the scorecard together at a regular meeting - many scorecards fail as they are emailed or loaded on the server and reviewing it is optional
  • Use the scorecard as the agenda to drive a conversation about performance
  • Get into a routine for reviewing it and stick to it
  • The conversation should focus on improving the business, not punishing or calling out employees
  • Practice becoming a learning organization where feedback is welcomed, not feared

When scorecards are used correctly, they trigger a series of behaviours that drive performance.

  • A scorecard defines what good looks like and sets expectations
  • They hold us accountable to our commitments
  • They help us get into a routine of reviewing all aspects of our business
  • They help us align and focus on the priorities
  • They ensure we are results focused instead of activity focused
  • They allow us to decide on how to move forward instead of explaining the past
  • They allow teams to work together to improve business performance
  • They provide a forum for coaching, feedback and employee development
  • They provide leaders with the opportunity to reinforce the right behaviours and recognize performance


As a leader, you likely have your first draft of your department's scorecard due at the end of the month. Unlike other things on your to-do list, engaging your team to build a meaningful scorecard has the ability to trigger a series of behaviours that drive performance. You have the opportunity to the stage to become a learning organization that drives for continuous improvement.

Don't treat your 2018 scorecard as a check the box activity; follow the tips above to unlock the potential of this performance improvement opportunity. 


Dave McLaren - Partner, Lead 2 Perform


Effective Strategic Planning - Performance Measures & Scorecarding

Orange Line.png

In article #3 of our Effective Strategic Planning series, we discussed Annual Business Planning and the development of performance measures that help an organization shift from activity-based to results-based conversations. Most companies we work with have numerous high-level lagging indicators that are meaningful at a board of directors or senior executive level.

Many individuals are required weekly or monthly to develop these lagging indicator reports that move up the hierarchy. Although these metrics are discussed at senior levels of the organization, and are important for strategic decision making, they do not provide a lot of value for the employees collecting the numbers.

Org Chart.png

This is due to the fact that in most large organizations, individuals and teams do not control or influence these lagging indicators in a meaningful way.

Selecting the right performance measures is critical to shifting conversations from activity-based to results-based. All too often we participate in meetings where numerous individuals list all of the great work they have been doing; yet the organization is not delivering results.

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 11.42.59 AM.png


  1. Create performance measures that are directly controlled or influenced by the individual or team
  2. Build performance measures with individuals or teams to create ownership and accountability
  3. Demonstrate a clear link between performance measures and organizational results

  4. Review performance measures with a regular cadence to create focus and demonstrate they are important to organizational success

In order to build performance measures that are meaningful, the individuals and teams must be able to control the outcome; or at a minimum have influence over the result. Therefore, selecting the right metrics should be a discussion with individuals, teams, bosses and peers so that there is alignment related to ‘what good looks like’. As performance measures cascade down the organization there should be a shift from lagging to leading indicators. Ultimately, the frontline should be measuring the behaviours or actions that will deliver on the business strategy. These leading indicators are far more meaningful, and are easy to track and measure.

Orange Line.png


A clear example of how the right performance measures can create impressive results occurred at a Power Generation company that Lead 2 Perform worked with, where the overarching corporate goal was to improve safety. In fact, our firm was asked to help develop safety excellence after a rash of safety incidents. The Sr. VP of Operations in our initial meeting simply stated, “I think we are going to kill somebody”. At the senior executive level Safety Excellence meant a dramatic reduction in their Total Recordable Incident Rate, Lost Time Incidents, and an increase in Safety Observations.

The power plant employees decided to focus on the following leading indicators that they believed would have the biggest impact on the corporate lagging indicators. After a careful study of the safety data and survey of the prioritized personal opinions of the plant employees, everyone agreed that the biggest impact on safety performance would come from the following metrics:

  • # quality safety observations per week
  • Redesigned Work Permits
  • # work permits audited
  • % people in the plant trained on Lock out/ Tag out procedures
  • % Improvement in air quality in the plant

Four performance improvement teams were created from the plant frontline employees that were accountable to train and educate all of the plant staff on how to perform each of the 4 initiatives and understand the leading indicators. These teams were created by the plant employees themselves in a shared leadership effort. The Air Quality team engaged in a well thought out plan to first understand, and then develop and implement initiatives to improve the air quality issues in the plant.

The performance measures and resulting scorecards that were developed for each of the initiatives were posted in the lunchroom and reviewed weekly at team meetings. Over time, with L2P coaching support, there was a shift in the conversations at the team meetings; rather than discussing all of the tactical work that had been completed that day, the team spoke about how they could ‘move the needle’ against each of the identified initiatives in the coming week.

The results were astounding. In 6 months the plant met the annual corporate safety observation target for the entire Power division that spanned the country. They also completed the year without a single safety incident and are continuing to add new initiatives once they have developed safety excellence in each area. 

Our client’s results were a direct impact of engaging employees in developing performance measures that:

  1. Are meaningful and relevant
  2. Are selected and agreed on with the team to create alignment
  3. The individuals and team have control or influence over the result
  4. Are reviewed at a regular cadence to build accountability

Effective Strategic Planning - Annual Business Planning

Orange Line.png

In article #2 of our Effective Strategic Planning series, we discussed some of the methodology behind Lead 2 Perform’s Executive Guidance document. This tool for senior leaders (SVP, VP, Director) provides a clear outline of ‘what’ needs to happen over the next year, but it leaves the ‘how’ up to the team to deliver. This document is generally developed early in the planning cycle once organizational goals have been selected by a board of directors or the executive team.

Effective Strategic Planning.png


Armed with an Executive Guidance Document, managers/team leads can then develop Annual Business Plans that have 3-5 major goals that will deliver 80% of the expected outcomes - the 20% that delivers 80% of the results. In addition, each of the team members can develop annual plans that roll up and impact the various ‘buckets’ that have been identified in the Executive Guidance Document.

Important components of successful Annual Business Plans:

1.     Goals

  • 3-5 major goals that will deliver 80% of the expected outcomes

2.     Strategies

  • 2-3 strategies per goal
  • Strategies are clearly identified as ways to deliver the above goals


  • Each strategy should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound)
  • Goals should have associated lagging indicators to track the progress
  • Strategies should be measured with quantifiable leading indicators

The difference between leading and lagging indicators is often a stumbling point. A simple way to demonstrate the difference is with a weight loss example:

For instance, if someone wanted to lose 10 pounds in 6 months (a SMART goal), they could develop 2 strategies that would deliver on the goal. 

Strategy 1 - Exercise 3 times a week for 1 hour.

Strategy 2 - Eat green vegetables a minimum of 5 days a week

These 2 strategies are easily measured and, if executed are likely to support meeting the 10 pound weight loss goal.

4.     Feedback & accountability

Once goals, strategies and leading/lagging indicators have been developed teams can share initial plans with their supervisors and peers. This alignment session is a great opportunity to gather feedback, understand synergies in team members plans and clearly identify the most important pieces of work that, when executed, will deliver results.

Business planning is an iterative process and likely a minimum of 2 drafts, and 2 alignment sessions are needed to develop a well-developed business plan that supervisors and team members agree will deliver the right results.

A final report out where each member of the team presents their plan to supervisors, team members and often stakeholders provides a way to build ownership and accountability. 

5.     Scorecards

Once team members have developed individual business plans that cascade from the Executive Guidance document, it is important to create a scorecard with the most important indicators. Defining the organizational cadence to review the scorecard, as well as making it visible will also be of importance.


Next month we will take a closer look a performance measurement and scorecarding. Stay tuned!

Brent Olynyk - Partner, Lead 2 Perform

Effective Strategic Planning - A detailed look at Executive Guidance

Orange Line.png

In article #1 of our Effective Strategic Planning series, we discussed the challenge many companies have in cascading overall business strategy into actionable annual plans throughout the organization. At Lead 2 Perform we often support our clients by using a simple business planning methodology that helps create alignment, improve communication and foster a culture of engagement, ownership and accountability.

Effective Strategic Planning.png

One of the tools that we use at the senior levels of the organization is an Executive Guidance Document. Often as high level strategic planning and goals get passed from the executive to the rest of the organization, much of the intent gets ‘lost in translation’. Larger organizational goals do not always resonate with frontline workers and subsequently the results that the executives are looking for often not achieved. 


The key components of a successful Executive Guidance document are:


1.     Description of the Business Focus

The business focus is the key messaging that describes what is important to the organization.

For example, an VP in an energy company might have a business focus that states: 1. We will become the most efficient Drilling and Completions company in our region 2. We will improve our safety performance year over year by 10% 3. We will reduce our cost of execution by 10%.

These key messages should be clear throughout the VP’s team from senior levels to the frontline.


2.     3-5 Key Focus Areas

A successful Executive Guidance document should include 3-5 prioritized ‘buckets’ that are essential to success. These ‘buckets’ might include safety, output, risk reduction, people, cost and other important areas of the business.


In order to provide a framework for the larger team, the VP can select specific areas within each ‘bucket’ that are important; in essence, the ‘what’. Teams within the hierarchy are responsible for the ‘how’.


For example, the VP may include a focus on near miss reporting within the ‘safety bucket’. The teams at the frontline can build a plan outlining how they will focus on near miss reporting.

Another example might be in the cost focus area, where the VP may include a focus on a reduction of vendor costs of 10%. The Supply Chain team can figure out how they will achieve this goal.


For senior leaders in the organization, the executive guidance document can build a simple, clear communication tool that clearly illustrates ‘what good looks like’.  


Orange Line.png

Keys to Success

  • Alignment - focus areas are clearly aligned with organizational goals

  • Lagging Indicators - For each of the key focus areas, the VP would include high level lagging indicators that identify what success looks like.

  • Visibility - Visibility of the guidance document is essential to demonstrate the importance and key focus areas. Often these high-level guidance documents are posted on walls in the organization or developed into dashboards.

  • Cadence - Quarterly meetings can be developed to continue to clarify the business focus and key elements of the Executive Guidance document.


With each Sr Leader (SVP, VP, Director) within the organization developing a clearly articulated Executive Guidance document, the corresponding teams can begin to develop annual business plans that are clearly aligned and ‘roll up’ into the larger organizational goals.


An Executive Guidance document provides a clear framework for business units, departments and teams. The corresponding annual business plans that cascade throughout the organization will be relevant and aligned with organizational goals. Individuals will have a much better line of sight to how they impact the overall organizational goals, and also have a better understanding of how they can control and influence performance.


Next month we will look at the key components of engaging teams in building clearly articulated and measurable annual business plans.

Brent Olynyk - Partner, Lead 2 Perform

How to Create Alignment with Effective Strategic Planning

Orange Line.png

In our experience, companies often fail to effectively plan at all levels of the organization, and are surprised when they do not achieve expected results.

Many companies spend time developing long-term plans at the executive level; these plans are then cascaded down to VP’s, Directors and sometimes managers. Seldom do the plans at this level make it to the frontline, and if they do, they are too high level to provide any meaningful direction. At Lead 2 Perform, we encourage our clients to follow a simple methodology to create alignment throughout the organization.

1.     Executive Guidance Document

The first step is to encourage leaders at the VP or Director level to develop a simple executive guidance document and share this with their respective teams. The executive guidance document serves to:

  • Outline the business focus for the year, converting these concepts into key messaging that should be understood and repeated throughout the business unit or department.
  • Break the executive guidance into clear ‘buckets’ that have high level lagging indicators.
  • Provide overarching guidance. For example, a VP may include a 10% reduction of incidents with ‘steer’ that the team should focus on near miss, and driving.

This document really provides a clear outline of ‘what’ needs to happen over the next year, but it leaves the ‘how’ up to the team to deliver.

2.     Annual Business Plan Development

Armed with an executive guidance document, the managers/team leads can develop annual plans that have 3-5 major goals that will deliver 80% of the expected outcomes. In addition, each of their team members can also develop annual plans that roll up and impact the various ‘buckets’ that have been identified. Each of the plans will have 3-5 goals with 2-3 strategies that are identified as ways to deliver the goals. The strategies are measured with leading indicators.

3.     Performance Measurement & Scorecarding

Finally, with many clearly articulated individual business plans, the team can work together to develop a scorecard with the most important measures from each of the plans. This scorecard document becomes a monthly review document that shifts meeting conversation from activity based to strategic and results based.


The key to success? Create alignment by engaging all levels of the organization in the planning process; this engagement creates ownership and accountability.

In the coming months, I will break down this overview into more detail, including the executive guidance document, annual business plan development, performance measurement, and scorecarding. These tools are critical for individuals in the organization to clearly understand ‘what good looks like’.

At Lead 2 Perform we believe everyone wants to do a good job, however if ‘what good looks like’ is not clear at every level of the organization there is little chance that there will be good alignment with everyone delivering on the right goals.

Brent Olynyk - Partner, Lead 2 Perform