A New Leadership Measuring Stick

Most leadership measurements are one-dimensional. Here's a dynamic scoring idea that will greatly improve the results of all your company's leadership activities.

By Brent Filson - 9/2007

You know about this common occurrence: a CEO leads a company to record earnings, retires and in just a short while, those once high-flying earnings are dropping like shot ducks.
 
Observers blame the new leadership team.  But most likely the observers are wrong.  It's not just the new leaders who are screwing up.  Instead, it was most likely the former CEO.  Yes, the former, supposedly great CEO. 
 
Look to him for what went wrong — and what went wrong provides lessons for learning leaders. 
 
The reasons for what went wrong are clear but seldom recognized.  They get back to the raison d' etre of leadership — which is not just the performance of the individual leader but the improved results of those being led.
 
But when leader-driven results are defined narrowly – i.e. in strict terms of share, margin, shareholder value, profits – organizations lose their competitive elasticity.
 
Competitive elasticity involves an organization’s ability to consistently deal with radically changing circumstances. For instance, IBM exhibited competitive elasticity when it switched its fundamental calculating paradigm from punch cards to computers. Toyota exhibited competitive elasticity when it invested heavily in the development of hybrid cars.
 
And the quality of organizational elasticity is linked to its culture of leadership, especially that leadership displaying a broader vision of results. That vision should encompass the necessity not just to hire good leaders and potentially good leaders but to rigorously and systematically develop them into great leaders, leaders who lead others to achieve continual increases in results.
 
So when decline follows the departure of “great” leaders, the safe bet is the “great” were really pretty damned poor.
 
And that’s where learning leadership comes in. Here are four ways you, as a learning leader, can establish yourself as a key driver of high-priority results in your organization.
 
First, recognize the vital importance of leadership to your organization’s success.
 
I know, the-importance-of-leadership is the stuff they feed the troops.  I’m sure the CEO, like others of his ilk, talked the same talk. But as a learning leader, your recognition of this should involve more than an intellectual understanding. It should be a driving force of your daily life.
 
For instance, to nail down the importance of motivation, you might begin every meeting with a person giving a report on how they motivated others to take action for results. This may ostensibly seem like an extraneous activity, but if you are truly passionate about bringing strong leadership into your organization, it should be seen as de rigeur.
 
The point is to move from an intellectual understanding to living a code of promoting leadership.
 
Second, underpin your adhering to this code with the recognition that no one is more important to the promotion of leadership in your organization than you and your team are. 
 
The heads of each function have their own results-challenges: productivity, sales closes, marketing targets, earnings growth, etc.  Similarly, the results-challenge of your function is clear.  As a learning leader, you do nothing more important than bring good leaders or potentially good leaders to your organization and aid in the systematic development of those leaders already in your organization. You have no more important mission.

And your mission should be as high a priority for your organization as earnings growth or continuous increases in productive or sales/marketing advancements.
 
Third, back up this results-mission with comprehensive, systematic, interlocking leadership programs.  The objectives of these programs are not simply to improve the leadership abilities of the participants but also to achieve increases in your organization’s functional results.
 
The programs must go beyond simple leadership development.  They must also drive:

Fourth, be the foremost leadership champion of your organization.  If you have programs, make them more robust by tying the learning to obtaining increases in hard, measured results.  If you don’t have programs, get them started.  
 
Participants learn best when they are getting increases (or decreases) in results.
 
Eliminate the ones that are not getting results.  If you need them, develop them through this course-development process. 
 
Identify –> Develop –> Monitor –> Evaluate.
 
Identify the Decisive Three.  Those are the results the function must absolutely achieve to thrive.  Of course, they may not be three.  They may be four or two or five, but I use three as you a guide. Remember, these are not your results.  They’re THEIR results. 
 
Develop Multipliers to achieve those results through your courses. An important tool of the Results Process is a Multiplier.   A Multiplier is a specific, critical factor that causes increases in results.  A Multiplier has four characteristics.
 
 --It involves concrete action that helps solve the problem of functional needs.
 
 --It provides solutions that help achieve more results faster continually.
 
 –It is measurable, repeatable, and replicable throughout the organization.
 
 --It always involves a leadership issue at heart. 
 
The decline following the departure of "great" leaders indicates that those leaders were most likely control-monsters, commanders not convincers, great at getting jobs done themselves but not challenging others to do them.  And when those others are ignored, they become inept.
 
So let's take an additional yardstick to our leaders and measure their total value, both when they're there and after they have left.  Link that value to deferred compensation, bonuses, stock options for executives and to partially-delayed evaluations for middle managers and supervisors.  
 
When leaders define their performance beyond their tenure, they will most likely pay more attention to those two factors that are absolutely necessary for any organization's continued well-being: getting and developing exceptional leaders.

$50,000 Guarantee:
I can help your individual leaders boost their job and career performance. For instance, check out our one-day Leadership Talk sessions that comes with a $50,000 guarantee.

Here’s a one-day session for leaders.
http://www.brentfilson.com/pdfs/OnedayForLeaders.pdf

Here’s a one-day session for sales/marketing leaders. http://www.brentfilson.com/pdfs/OnedayForSales-Marketing.pdf

Business Results:

Leadership is too important for the advancement of your client’s job performances and careers and also for the success of your company to have leadership development simply fulfill training objectives. For the past 22+ years, I’ve been helping leaders of all ranks and functions worldwide get great business results.

"Brent Filson knows how to help others get results! His programs are proven in a variety of settings including industry, government, non-profit and the military proving that the way he practices and coaches leadership can work for any organization willing to invest the time and energy necessary to influence their people to produce at their highest productivity levels.”
—Joe Javorski, Director, Worldwide Staffing, Analog Devices

Total Systems Solutions:

I can also help you help your leaders develop and execute unique, customized, total-solution systems for every function of your business. http://www.actionleadership.com/Leadership_Training.cfm

“One of the key components of Brent’s methodologies is their tremendous value in driving monumental change through the leadership of others in the matrix supporting your cause. The actions of developing cause leaders has allowed ordinary teams in my organization to achieve extraordinary results.”
—Robert Cancalosi, Global General Manager, General Electric Medical

Lots Of Help On My Web Site:

On my web site, http://www.actionleadership.com you’ll find many of my books, articles, interviews, course descriptions, and instruction methodologies that will help you in many ways boost your job performance and advance your career by helping your clients get the right results in the right ways.

Best wishes,

Brent Filson
Brent Filson
413-458-4403
http://www.actionleadership.com