It's Time to Start Measuring Leadership

Over the last few years there has been enormous interest in the subject of leadership. In the last three years alone, over 5,000 books have been published on leadership. There is little doubt that leadership is a critical catalyst for driving value. However, one thing that seems to be missing is some form of measurement. If we fail to measure leadership, how can we understand if it exists and to what extent does it influence and drive performance.

The good news is that many of the characteristics of leadership are well documented, giving us a relatively easy model for measurement. Since leadership tends to be very intangible, our approach to measurement will be more casual and soft when compared to traditional measurements such as financial metrics. For example, simple feedback may suffice over hard measurements, such as a peer review survey. However, just like any measurement process, we will look for consistent trends to flag action items for improvement.

Before we embark on measuring leadership, let's make sure we understand what we want to capture. Leadership is basically the capacity of someone to bring about change. Using this definition, we need to make sure we cast a wide net with our measurement of leadership. This helps ensure that we recognize where the real leadership is at which in turn allows us to leverage it for greater organizational performance.

One of the most accepted models for measuring leadership comes from James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, authors of the book The Leadership Challenge: How to Keep Getting ExtraOrdinary Things Done in Organizations. Kouzes and Posner have devised the so-called Leadership Practices Inventory or LPI. The LPI Measurement Model uses a series of questions to assess leadership effectiveness. People under a designated leader are observers, evaluating leaders on a series of qualities, such as:

- Discusses future trends on how I can change my work
- Provides positive feedback on accomplishments
- Follows through on promises
- Treats others with respect
- Solicits feedback and opinions from others

The leader is also required to assess his or her leadership based on several behaviors, such as:

- Sets a good personal example
- Actively listens to other viewpoints
- Supports others in their decisions
- Willing to take certain risks and experiment

Collectively we can take these answers and assess leadership effectiveness. The LPI Model also establishes several best practices in leadership, such as:

• Challenge an existing process in a positive way
• Share your knowledge and power, enabling others to act
• Openly recognizing performance so as to encourage others to perform

For organizations not interested in formal models such as LPI, you might want to fall back on self awareness tests such as Meyers Briggs or evaluation forms for assessing Emotional Intelligence. Regardless of how you approach measuring leadership, the key is to have some basis for measurement. Leadership is way too important to ignore and given all the published materials available about leadership, there's no excuse for not measuring it.

Finally, don't restrict your leadership assessments to just management positions. The overall goal should be to capture and report the essence of what leadership is – the capacity to produce change. Using this broad definition, you may want to measure leadership at several organizational levels since all types of positions can qualify. By casting a wide net, you will leverage and maximize the benefits of measuring leadership.

Written by: Matt H. Evans, CPA, CMA, CFM | Email: | Phone: 1-877-807-8756

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