Article Review – Can You Measure Leadership?

Currie Management Consultants, Inc.’s 4th Quarter recommended reading is an article in the MIT Sloan Management Review entitled Can You Measure Leadership? In the article, Robert Gandossy and Robin Guarnieri address the urgency, as well as the accompanying challenges, to measure the effectiveness of the leadership at your organization.  Not only does this piece add more dimension to an area that is front and center for all businesses, it also supports two of the 12 Currie Success Principles©:

Currie Success Principle #5 Continuous Development

Currie Success Principle #9 Results Orientation

Please note on the first page of this article – another stern reminder that the world is about to change.  Paragraph #2 contains mission critical information that Bob and the Currie team have been repeating for the past several years:  “the so-called ‘key leader age’ will drop by 15% over the next decade…”  Now is the time for all distributors to plot the strategic placement of your future leaders.  And this article is in keeping with the theme of talent management that has been assembled this year, beginning with The 2012 Global Workforce Study[i].

The Sloan article takes us through the process of identifying the circumstances when a company has successfully developed leaders.  In other (Currie) words:  “What does [leadership] look like when it’s right”.  Then we learn how talent is analyzed, and finally the author provides some questions and measurements to help all companies create and implement a leadership measurement process.

Pay special attention to the Sample Nine-Block Framework diagram.  This graphic demonstrates “Results Orientation” in action, as it applies to leadership, which has historically been an area that is difficult to assess.  The Framework is a rating tool designed to assist top management in their endeavor to understand exactly how effective their leadership team is.  Notice that accountability is created by the public reporting of the results, and it is likened to McKinsey & Co.’s “team barometer” survey.  Now we understand the vision behind the measurement of leadership effectiveness, just as we understand the evaluation of financial results through the Currie Financial Composite©.

In the quest for “Continuous Improvement”, the authors have developed a series of questions that are critical to the growth of the leadership team.  These questions are geared toward different groups within the organization:  People Managers, Key Talent, Business Leaders, and HR Professionals.  By defining the parameters for a great leadership team, the company can develop a world class talent capture (refer to Currie’s website for Q2 2014’s recommended article:  Building a Game Changing-Talent Strategy[ii]).  The Currie Leadership Development Program and Operational Seminars are continuous development offerings that all distribution companies should be taking advantage of.  Other activities (think of the annual Currie Reading List and the quarterly article reviews) are designed to promote and inspire development initiatives.  At most Best Practices group meetings, Currie Management Consultants, Inc. encourages all Human Resources Departments to invent and implement a continuous development plan for each and every employee of the company.  (And remember, in our Model, we encourage a ratio of one HR executive per 100 employees.)  This is how we build solid, engaged leaders.

Finally, how do we apply the lessons from this article to our equipment distribution companies?

  • Utilize a tool such as the Nine-Block Framework or the team barometer survey, create motivation by sharing the results publicly, or create a leader scorecard. All of these methods build a culture of accountability, as well as motivate and engage the leaders.  In other words, this is how we construct a “Results Oriented” leadership team.
  • Encourage, inspire, excite, and motivate your leadership team through ongoing educational programs and advanced training. Invite your team to learn and grow.  In the Currie Leadership Development Program, Leadership Practices Inventory[iii] is utilized to help each participant assess their own inner “toolbox” and their capacity for growing from a good leader into a great leader through the following practices:  Encourage the Heart, Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, and Enable Others to Act.
  • “Hire for attitude, train for skill” (Herb Kelleher, former Southwest Airlines CEO). Identify your brightest talent and prepare your replacement! Remember Emperor Napoleon’s Military Maxim LIV:  “Assets should always be placed in the most advantageous position”.  Your company’s talent is not only an asset, but a precious resource that contains the power to propel your company into future successes.  Succession planning is an ongoing process that needs to be approached with vision, focus, and purpose.

Favorite quote from Can You Measure Leadership?:  “When a company has a true commitment to leadership, it becomes integrated with business planning and woven into the culture of the organization”.



[iii] James M. Kouzes and Barry Z Posner

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