The 7 habits of highly effective okr leaders

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective OKR Leaders

In This writing, we explore what leaders can do to influence the success and Sustainability of OKRs. Some OKR and Agile leaders openly admit that only applying the methodology itself does not secure success.

OKRs are not new but have become best practices in numerous Fortune 500 companies. Leadership is the responsibility to leave more leaders behind and the ability to galvanize people around a shared Vision and objectives. Leadership is both an art and a privilege. It takes well-developed leadership skills to support OKR and Agile teams in a way that helps them achieve far-reaching goals. Let us look closely at the 7 Habits of Highly Effective OKR Leaders.

1. They are Curious, Insatiably Curious.

‘Sell Your Cleverness and Purchase awe’

Jalal ud din Rumi

A true Servant leader knows they cannot do it all, nor can they know it all. They have unshakable confidence in their ability to facilitate collective decision-making and problem-solving and approach every engagement with awe and curiosity. They understand that their sincere and enthusiastic curiosity is the means to co-creation, creativity, and growth. a high degree of curiosity with positive intent is the foundational habit of the 7 habits of effective OKR Leaders.

They tend to come to meetings very well prepared with excellent questions over being prepared with excellent speeches. Their questions stimulate thinking and action as well as collaboration.

2. They are good at the ‘Trinity of execution excellence’ – Thinking, Talking, and Doing.

Execution excellence is about co-creating formidable strategies, communicating clearly and consistently around them, and, most importantly, taking bold action. Especially in these volatile times, leaders no longer have the luxury to separate themselves from the execution of strategies. They need to be seen where it matters. The Japanese Lean management principle of Genchi Gembutsu (Go and see for yourself) applies here.

They are present and execute shoulder-to-shoulder with their team members wherever possible and when it truly matters. They tend to act on strategies, problems, change initiatives, and uplifting employee engagement over paying ‘lip service’ to it.

3. They are both committed and Consistent

A high degree of commitment gets people to start something enthusiastically, but consistency makes you see it through to its end. We have all witnessed several strategic plans, industry blueprints, and business plans that appeared brilliant on paper yet never ‘saw the light of day.’  OKR Leaders are committed to growing their companies through OKRS and its inherent motivating mechanisms, and they are also very consistent in applying OKR Best practises. They are consistent with:

  • Their messaging around OKRs
  • Being transparent related to strategies, goals, and objectives
  • Providing immersive skills-building opportunities
  • Providing a career path, a cause, and a community to their team members

4. They see the bigger picture but can connect it to the present

‘Vision without action is a daydream. OKR and Agile Leaders see the bigger picture, but dwelling on the bigger picture too much causes debilitating delays in execution. OKR Leaders have a balanced approach to making the bigger picture clear to all involved and then ‘connecting the dots’ so that ‘execution excellence’ is achieved.

Seeing the bigger picture does not necessarily mean that you will actualize it. Galvanizing your people around an operationalized purpose and a compelling vision, upskilling them in an immersive way, and creating a motivating environment for them in the present is both an art and a necessity for sustainable OKR achievement.

5. They have empathy but will take a stand for what matters

OKR and Agile leaders are inclusive, value team input, and empathize with their people. They are, however,’ no ‘push over’; they will take a stand for their values and will take transgressions of the company values very seriously.

6. They Prioritize

One of the most essential Leadership skills is the ability to identify true priorities and to act accordingly. Agile leaders ensure that they are not just busy. Instead, they focus on spending most of their time on things that truly matter and are impactful. They positively challenge themselves and others every day with great questions that help them to execute on priorities:

‘What matters?’

‘What should we be focused on?’

‘Which activities, projects, tasks, and initiatives yield the highest results toward our objectives and the Vision?

‘Who can help?’

‘What is urgent and essential, and what is not necessary?

7. They are Outcome focused

They constantly think about the impact and the value they can add to stakeholders. Instead of being busy purely for the sake of being busy, they focus on the value they can add to stakeholders. They positively question all activities, goals, and objectives:

‘What is the desired impact or outcome of this activity?’

‘How will we measure this project in terms of delivering on desired outcomes?

OKR Leaders lead Agilely by fostering collaboration, autonomy, bold action, and transparent strategies. They consistently execute on the above seven habits. Join our OKR Leadership and Professional courses to Lead your team to great Heights.

Talent Development Director of the OKR Institute