Past performance may be a predictor of future performance, but it’s not the best one. The best predictor combines past performance and:

  • The willingness to accept your strengths and shortcomings
  • Your willingness to commit to improvement
  • Your willingness to execute an individual development plan
  • Your commitment to continuously calibrate and re-calibrate this plan based on results
  • Your ability to course-correct without losing sight of the objectives

Many people rely on their past performance to judge their effectiveness as leaders. However, past performance is not the best predictor of your future as a leader; it only tells part of your story.

I have used this idea as one of the cornerstones of my short list of laws of intelligent leadership because its relevance has withstood the test of time. To this day, I view past performance as only the starting point of any leadership development process; however, it does have relevance, so let’s lead with that.

1. Past Performance 

Past performance does count, and it may say a thing or two about your inner core, but it merely constitutes a point of reference in your journey toward becoming a better version of yourself. It does not limit your leadership future; it’s not even the best predictor of that future.

Let’s take a look at other factors that predict your future leadership performance, and from my perspective, the success of your leadership development process.

2. Your Willingness to Accept Your Gifts and Deficiencies

Leadership maturity is at the root of your development potential. Leaders who are mature enough to accept their strengths and recognize their deficiencies are ready to embark on the journey that will make them more capable, self-aware, and intelligent.

The first step of any leadership development program is to establish a baseline by obtaining an accurate picture of the capabilities that comprise the outer core of the leader. For this purpose, I have developed the STLI, a proprietary 360-degree assessment tool designed to overcome the typical pitfalls of this type of aggregate feedback.

The STLI works well as a self-assessment tool. However, for optimal results, I strongly suggest that you use it in multi-rater mode as well.

The purpose of the STLI is to establish the competencies that comprise your leadership strengths while identifying your weaknesses/shortcomings. It is the equivalent of a medical diagnosis that pinpoints the target of the treatment to follow.

3. Your Willingness to Commit to a Plan that Addresses Your Deficiencies and Leverages Your Strengths

In addition to giving you a clear picture of your current leadership strengths and weaknesses, the STLI also helps you or the leadership development professional guiding you, to set your unique development goals and developmental pathways.

With a clear roadmap to improvement, it is up to you to commit to this plan. Your personalized developmental plan allows you to strengthen your maturity within all your leadership traits. However, its success depends entirely on your having a diligent desire to improve.

4. Your Willingness to Execute the Development Plan

Having embraced your personal roadmap to improvement, you have to start executing your customized individual development plan with passion and focus. This is the practical part of the leadership development program.

Now that you know where you can improve and how you can do it, it’s time to swing into action. There is no room for reluctance. No leadership coach can craft a better leader out of you if you aren’t willing to put in the groundwork.

5. Your Willingness to Be Vigilant to the Results You Achieve

To ensure the success of your leadership development program, you have to assess and reassess your results periodically and draw meaningful conclusions. By creating a continuous feedback/calibration loop, you keep your efforts on track and maintain your focus where you can make the biggest impact in your individual development.

6. The Willingness to Course Correct Continuously

Although assessment-based and thus solid, your customized individual development plan is not rigid. The results that you get by executing this plan dictate whether you need to course-correct on the go.

Sometimes you need to right the ship.

Course correction requires a dose of maturity on your part regarding being proactive and handling change. In the context of leadership development, course correction is part of a process of continuous learning. Calibration and recalibration make learning possible, providing the foundation for effective course correction and positive individual development.

The Bottom Line 

While past performance is important, the best predictor of your future performance as a leader comprises a combination all six of these factors. You have to want to improve, you need to commit to the process, and you have to put in the required effort.


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