What Matters Most? (A Leaders Made Here Post)

We welcome Mark Miller for the fourth post in a five-part series defining the core principles of Leaders Made Here.

Step 4 – Measure

There is something every organization needs more than great leadership – they need a leadership culture. A leadership culture is evident when leaders are routinely and systematically developed and you have a surplus. How is this possible? That’s the question I answer in my book, Leaders Made Here. This series is intended to provide an abstract of the core tenants of the strategy.

The first three stages on the journey are Define It, Teach It, and Practice It. I hope you’ll find the time to read those posts. Today, I want to address what, for some, will be the most challenging part of the strategy – Measure It. Here’s the premise:

Nothing improves without measurement – including leadership.

If you and I want to build a leadership culture, we must measure our progress. This is difficult for many reasons. I probably don’t need to outline the challenges here. You can make your own list. However, difficulty doesn’t give any organization permission to take a pass on this critical activity.

Rather than exploring the obstacles, let’s look at several ideas to help you be successful.

Think multiple metrics – When you go to the doctor, is there one single metric your doctor uses to determine your overall health? No. The answer is probably a combination of blood pressure, temperature, cholesterol, weight, etc. For many years, I tried to help organizations find a single metric to capture the health and strength of their leadership culture. I gave up. Today, I believe the right answer for most organizations is family of metrics. How many? You can decide. Though I would say the “right” answer is closer to five then ten.

Think process and outcome – I have long been a fan of the balanced scorecard concept. Not the specifics of Kaplan’s Four Perspectives, but the idea of leading and lagging indicators. I call this Process and Outcome metrics. As an example, in the leadership arena, you might consider a metric to capture the number of leaders (and emerging leaders) trained on your leadership point-of-view. This would be a leading, or process, metric. You may also want a metric around how many leaders are “Ready Now” for their next leadership opportunity, or how many leaders received the highest performance rating in their last review. Both of these are outcome metrics. I suggest including both types on your scorecard.

Think fluid – Going back to my doctor example, if you are being treated for a specific malady, your doctor may focus on specific metrics. If you are battling heart disease, your doctor may be laser-focused on lowering your cholesterol. If not, it becomes a secondary metric. My doctor hasn’t checked my cholesterol in years (112, last time we checked). If your needs change as an organization, change your leadership scorecard. If you have no one trained on your leadership point-of-view, put that on your scorecard. Once you’ve trained 100% of your leaders, you can probably find a more valuable metric to replace it.

The benefits of metrics are undisputable. Ask your finance people if they want to stop using measurement and see what they say. Don’t miss the power of metrics to propel your leadership culture to new levels.

See my next, and final, post in this series to learn the last and most critical step on the journey to creating a leadership culture.