First Posted February 29, 2012
Well, they are, but what we use are not real measures.
What we typically measure is management, not leadership.
The management of people, products and processes.
That is different than leadership.
Management numbers may ... may ... have a relationship to leadership. But it needs to be defined.
So, if you are going to measure leadership then you need to define what it is, and define it in such a way that you can measure it.
Here's how I define leadership.
Leaders take initiative to create impact.
Each word is intentional.
Leaders start, engage, facilitate, act, do and take the first step.
Leaders generate processes, products, systems, relationships, openness, cultures, opportunities, or the next ones, and they adapt, form, and bring into existence what is new, needed and necessary.
Leaders make a difference that matters by creating change.
By this definition any person can function as a leader. What does this mean for those people who are in executive and supervisory roles in traditional vertically integrated hierarchical organizational structures?
It is simple.
Executive leaders initiate the creative processes which produce leaders who initiate to create impact.
This means that executive leaders are measured by the leadership of those for whom they are responsible. This is quite similar to what we have thought of as management, but there is a difference.
The difference is that the management of efficiency, predictability and consistency requires control those who work for them. The reality is that this is a fading reality. Businesses are rapidly changing, by necessity, and our understanding of leadership needs to catch up.
The Three Dimensions of Leadership
Now if everyone simply initiated change in a random manner, then greater chaos would ensue.
Therefore, an integral part of executive leadership is coordinating the leadership of others. Executives do so through three principal areas: Ideas, Relationships and the context which each person has through the social and organizational structures of their work.
In other words, leaders facilitate clarity around the Connecting Ideas of Purpose, Values, Vision and Impact. They facilitate the communication and coordination of the actions that follow the organization's purpose.
Executive leaders build a culture of shared leadership through the shared responsibility for the organization's defined purpose, values and its vision for impact.
As a result, leadership spreads out through the company. We can see a better connection between the company's purpose and the means to achieve its bottom line. Better communication, and a greater sense of community between the people in the company, fosters a culture that adapts more quickly to the opportunities and obstacles that present themselves every day.
So, how do we measure leadership.
First, we define the change we want by defining the purpose of the impact that we seek.
We track change. We track the changes that we see in how the Connecting Ideas are being use. We track change in how people communicate and work together. And we track changes in processes as they adapt to new circumstances.
Second, we identify and track employee initiative.
We track the connection between communication and issue resolution. If people are taking initiative to resolve issues at their own point of responsibility, then you are seeing the spread of leadership in the company.
Third, we track the speed of change.
How fast does it take for an idea to be enacted? The key to this returns to the Connecting Ideas. These ideas provide a context of understanding that can guide the initiative leadership of people.
Ultimately, the measure of leadership is the number of leaders who have been formed and nurtured by the company, and the collective impact of their shared leadership.
By growing a leadership culture of initiative, a company can become a community of leaders whose impact is far beyond what it was when everyone was being managed to just do their job.