How do you judge the success of what you are doing?

If I were to revisit my memories of some job interviews, I have participated in over the three decades of my career, one question stands out the most – how do I judge the success of what I am doing?

That is not an easy question to answer. Primarily because measures of success vary as per the tasks at hand.


Take for instance, communications. What would hold the measures of success here? Success indicators for communications can run across three subsets – the stakeholders, the narrative and the writing.

At one time, communicators and PR Consultancies focused solely on earned stories and the footprint of impressions created. These indicators while still around, are no longer the most relevant ones.

What matters more is the shift in the mindset of the journalist. Has there been a shift in the media disposition towards your organisation? Did the naysayers change their stance when you as a communicator showcased your organisation’s narrative? Does the media reach out to you before publishing a negative report? Is your organisation part of the consortium reached out for views on an industry relevant story?

If the answer to most of the above questions is no, then, as a communicator you have failed even if you have managed to get numerous stories out there. In the end, what really counts is the alignment of your stakeholders with your organisation’s narrative.

Perhaps, you might also want to add the key messaging and narrative itself as a measure of success. Has your messaging changed over the years, or does it remain the same, year in and out? That would be a very strong barometer of the evaluation of not just the organisation, but also the communicator.

Additionally, how easy is it for you to write? Do the words flow easily? Do you understand the business, or do you struggle each time you have to prepare a press note/release? Do you sit for hours in front of the computer screen till your eyes ache, and then you delete the blank page? Writing is a quintessential skill required from a communicator. If you struggle, then perhaps you need to do a deep dive and reassess the options you have left.


Now, let us take the measures of success in a different domain. What would you say is a measure of success for your leadership style? How does one measure the intangible here? What makes for a successful leader?

Scrolling for successful leadership measures, you will find a plethora of indicators. It can be quite overwhelming. And you could probably land up spending your time and energy in just trying to figure which one is more important than the other!

What if you were to look at your success through the eyes of your stakeholders or your team? Your team can be the mirror of your guidance and actions. Your team can tell if you are an effective and compassionate leader. The clarity and communication style of a leader is witnessed by everyone since it reflects upon the strategic direction, the energy and motivational level of the people and the setting of goals. That is why many organisations have 360-degree feedback processes that encourages cross functional inputs. The anonymity of the system encourages employees to provide genuine feedback on leadership.

Leadership style however keeps evolving as the person/leader evolves. Hence, regular self-assessment too is required to adjust with the changing environment and demands of the job. Or else, leaders face a situation of being trapped in their earlier avatars and not growing.

To conclude, measuring success is a continuous job and requires periodic assessments to ensure one is on track with the goals outlined.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

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