Author:
Billy Casey

When What Matters hosted a Twitter Chat about OKRs for Effective Leadership, we looked no further than our very own Chief Storyteller, Lisa Shufro (@lshufro), to impart her wisdom on the topic. Here’s what Lisa had to say, as well as some of our favorite responses from the community.

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@lshufro: TRUST. If you are an effective leader, the team trusts the vision, plan, process and people. To succeed, Leaders need to be GREAT at at least one of those–AND have tools that make them “good enough” at the rest.

@realgailthomas: Vision, feedback, clear communicated goals, empathy.

@geek_freelance: In my opinion, an effective leader is one that walks their talk. They’re organized and put the wellbeing of their teams before their own personal needs.

@lshufro: Yes, a “we” mindset is a must!

@VivekanandGorai: An effective leader is able to create an environment and culture to produce more and more leaders in the organization.

@lshufro: Fantastic! Distributing effort and power grows intelligence.

@ErinBoothVA: Effective leaders LISTEN to their teams and take concerns into consideration.

@lshufro: Listening and learning are central to leading teams into the unknown, or beyond what they know today. Yes!

@BillyTCasey: An effective leader wouldn’t ask anything of their team they wouldn’t do themselves.

@lshufro: I ask my teams all the time to do things I can’t do! That said, they are always things I’m willing to jump in and help with. OKRs help us agree on the WHATs and HOWs.

@FabVineet: Effective leaders lead by example. They provide strategy in the form of intent and let the teams decide how they want to execute it. Effective leaders create an environment of physiological safety where people can trust each other and make each other accountable for their success.

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@lshufro: If we have the same central aim, we’ll get more done. A good OKR verifies shared aims. Saying it well reflects clear understanding. Clear understanding leads to better organization, less waste, and more wins.

@realgailthomas: They enable clarity in communication, conversation, alignment, vision, and priorities, while allowing for real time, real world adaptation.

@Betterworks: OKRs align the leader with the company from the top to the bottom. By understanding and building OKRs based on the company’s goals, the leader is more integrated to the direction of the company and can better lead the team under them.

@lshufro: Acting as a whole greater than the sum of its parts. OKRs have really helped us see how we’re doing. Real-Time.

@followVasan: OKRs make leaders lead with vulnerability and authenticity.

@WhatMattersOKRs: A good reminder that providing psychological safety is a crucial component of leadership.

@lshufro: Yes - adding the caveat that psychological safety means being able to look at BOTH what IS working well and what IS NOT working well. Safety does not mean 100% positivity.

@followVasan: Leaders with OKRs can take stretch goals, calibrate results, and course correct to steer the ship in the direction of the impact and advantage.

@lshufro: OKRs exist to lead teams into what they’ve never done. Course correcting is inevitable. Love this point!

@geek_freelance: In my experience, OKRs help the leaders I work with communicate with incredible transparency. Going into a grading meeting without fear in my heart is an amazing feeling.

@BillyTCasey: I think people work best when they know exactly what’s being asked of them. OKRs give leaders the ability to answer the question ‘what the heck are we doing here?’

@lshufro: Yes! I have found OKRs enforce a discipline I need: economy of thinking, economy of communication.

@WhatMattersOKRs: Well said! OKRs highlight top priorities—separate from our ‘everyday’ tasks. It gives teams permission to be ‘great’ at top priorities for the next 90 days, and ‘good enough’ at everything else.

@CSmalander: When there are so many things to choose between they help us show what we want to focus on

@WhatMattersOKRS: Wonderful response! OKRs are great for helping orgs choose (and agree on) priorities.

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@Betterworks: OKRs are great for this! Empowering your team to write their own OKRs while providing guidance and feedback allows them to own their roles and responsibilities.

@lshufro: Yes to engaging teams by promoting ownership (I like to use the term authority– as in ‘authorship’) Used well, OKRs are very powerful at this.

@Betterworks: That ownership mentality is so key to engaging and empowering employees!

@geek_freelance: Transparency and taking the time to communicate the overall mission or vision of the company as a whole. Knowing how I fit into the larger picture is really helpful.

@lshufro: Share power wisely and widely! OKRs coupled with regular Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition sessions are a proven system to do both well. The picture of your role tends to evolve as a project unfolds. Don’t try to set it upfront and only once. Have conversations early and often, like voting. ;)

@CSmalander: When you balance objectives bottom up and top down and your people are trusted to bring their best selves to work they hold themselves accountable. Just as you do.

@lshufro: Reciprocity builds trust. Thank you for this response!

@VivekanandGoari:

  • Purpose
  • Belongingness
  • Able see own progress and how his/her effort is moving the needle for Organization’s performance
  • Not judging for being failed rather inspired to create more Big Hairy Audacious Goals ( BHAG)
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@lshufro: Tackling complex problems requires many POVs. Reconciling 10K ft view with ground level info is hard. Needs a good process. OKRs affirm shared goals like a heartbeat, and teams can adapt as they learn from every level of the org.

@realgailthomas: A blend of top-down, bottom-up goal setting enables leadership to see the reality of what individuals and teams are dealing with.

@geek_freelance: I like a top meets bottom approach … goals set by the top and concrete and actionable plans to achieve them set by individuals or teams. It just makes them so…smooth. For lack of a better term.

@OKRS_Atruity: We are big fans of the top meets bottom approach as well @geek_freelance. We also advocate for cross-functional discussions!

@lshufro: There is a lot of connective tissue in orgs that we don’t have a process for. So yes, top/bottom/side/diagonal. It matters!

@CSmalander: We’ve used a company-wide visionary workshop to describe our future and chiselled out our visionary long term OKRs from the output. Everybody can relate to at least one KR (hopefully)

@VivekanandGorai:

  • Everyone should be able to view His/Her Manager, Peer, Function & Organization’s Goals
  • Let Manager cascade Goals but let team to decide on Key Results
  • OKRs should be set as Network of Functions
  • Create more Team Goals

@PerdooHQ: Top-down to provide annual focus for the company. Asking the rest of the org for input on company priorities helps leadership consider all perspectives when setting direction. Bottom-up for teams to tell you how they’ll help the company achieve the annual results.

@FabVineet: By maintaining alignment, transparency and focus on priorities. Blend of top down and bottom up goals. OKRs are powerful in setting org wide goals to ensure the entire org is moving in the same direction.

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@lshufro: Good feedback compares intentions to actions. If you articulate intention well - with an OKR - then feedback is easy to see… and easy to say.

@realgailthomas: KRs enable measurable goals as an easy, objective way to check team progress and priorities. It makes work goal driven, rather than “personal.”

@WhatMattersOKRs: Yes! As Andy Grove said, “Did I do that or did I not do it? Yes? No? Simple. No judgments in it.”

@Betterworks: OKRs provide real insights into the strengths and the weaknesses of your teams. If an objective is missed, the key results should allow you to see what went wrong more specifically. With this knowledge, your feedback can be more concise and helpful.

@lshufro: Yes! Feedback is a muscle that needs regular exercise.

@OKRs_Atruity: OKRs give leaders the ability to give constructive feedback without it being tied to compensation. Feedback goes from being destructive to constructive.

@lshufro: I hate using the word “should” - however – Feedback should move teams/individuals forward. Projects may move backward. People – forward.

@WhatMattersOKRs: This is one of our favorite hallmarks of OKRs: decoupling feedback from compensation.

@Csmalander: OKR gives a framework for progressing ”harder tasks” (not daily business). Cadence to keep momentum. Structure to help identify obstacles. Helps conversation.

@lshufro: It’s so easy to get distracted by what we can do, instead of what we need to do. OKRs are a wonderful antidote to procrastination.

@WhatMattersOKRs: 100% yes! We love the emphasis on using OKRs for major priorities and NOT business as usual.

@VivekanandGorai: OKRs enable people to improve and strive for the best or nothing. Shoot for Stars and even if u fail u can always land on the Moon

Final Word from the What Matters Team

An effective leader must build trust, lead with empathy, and communicate clearly. And while the path to effective leadership will vary from person to person and company to company, having the right tools in your arsenal will make all the difference. We at What Matters see OKRs help teams reach their fullest potential time and time again. With OKRs in your toolbox, there’s no limit to what you and your team can achieve. -Billy from the What Matters Team

We’d like to thank Lisa for sharing her wisdom with us, as well as everyone who contributed their insights to the conversation. Join the movement @WhatMattersOKRS and tune in for our next Twitter chat!