There is no shortage of information on how to be an effective leader. Anyone who is interested in being a successful leader or manager can keep themselves busy researching and studying the attributes of great leaders.
Often, the attributes of successful leaders are presented as character traits. Experts tell us that the best leaders share these qualities and that the best way to evolve as a leader is to focus on developing these leadership traits. The traits most often mentioned are vision, integrity, confidence, intelligence, decisiveness, and accountability. We’re also told that the best leaders are excellent communicators and inspirational to their followers.
“The objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.”
There’s no argument that these are all very positive attributes, but does having some or all of these qualities really make you an effective leader? Maybe or maybe not. The personal attributes of a leader are important, but they’re not a measure of leadership effectiveness. To say it another way… having some of these traits would be a real asset for any leader, but are they are a reliable way to know if a leader is succeeding in their role? No, they are not.
Leadership is a verb. It is something you do. Leadership can’t be measured by listing the attributes of the leader, even if those attributes are very positive. There’s not a reliable correlation between leadership attributes and leadership results. That’s the bad news. The good news is that leadership is 100% quantifiable. It’s easy to measure and easy to see if a leader is succeeding in their role.
When a leader is successful, the people they are leading improve over time.
Leadership is all about performance. Leadership shows up in the numbers. Your leadership is reflected with absolute, merciless accuracy in the performance of your team. Poor performers should improve over time, medium performers should be trending positively, and top performers should continue to excel and exceed.
The bottom line is that exceptional leaders can drive performance improvements using any of the attributes and characteristics listed previously. Those leadership character traits may allow the leader to get results with his or her team…and the results will tell us if the leader is succeeding. Hence…the only real way to measure leadership is by measuring the results of the team.