I just finished receiving my one-year review at Centerville United Methodist Church. As a church, we have a Board of Servant Leaders, and one of its primary functions is to evaluate the Lead Pastor. As we journeyed through the process, one part of the experience that surprised me was the self-evaluation.
Do we ever spend enough time evaluating ourselves?
The nature of the task is loaded with bumps and curves because we bring a certain amount of bias to the objective. Looking at our successes and our failures is difficult because what are we supposed to do when we find something we don’t like?
The reality for most of us is that once we give ourselves a perfect self-evaluation we’ve already failed our teams. As servant leaders our goal is to grow ourselves so that the team can grow with us. Not being able to admit where we need that growth is a harmful form of denial.
One of the other struggles with self-evaluation is that it only works well when it isn’t done in isolation. As leaders, we have to look for confirmation in those areas where we need growth, and we need to have people around us who care about the organization enough to speak the truth no matter what the backlash. The other part of the process is that we have to be willing to share our results. Sharing results is a catalyst for change.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, self-evaluation only works when you have a clear definition of what you are being evaluated against. Without strategic objectives and measurable results, evaluation quickly turns into opinion that isn’t based upon fact. Even doing self-evaluation can be a dangerous trend: How many of us are harder on ourselves than we would be on someone else? Without standards to consider, we are really just subject to the wanderings of our own mind.
The truth is that there is only one type of leader who doesn’t submit to some form of evaluation (self or other), and in our world we call that a dictator. What kind of leader are you?
Where can you admit that you need improvement?
Are you receiving confirmation?
Whom are you sharing your results with?
What are you evaluating yourself against?