Coaching Leadership

How do we measure leadership?

I’m not referring to leadership effectiveness although that can be measured with a 360-degree survey or an opinion-poll. Or perhaps by gauging the level of influence leaders have over their colleagues, peers, and followers.

The idea of effectiveness is different from the way leaders are judged at the outset. Nobody has the time or intent to evaluate effectiveness when they can clearly see, hear, and feel that the leader is any “good.” And I guess that’s where we are wrong. 

I picked up a gem from Ray Dalio’s Principles: Life and Work that deserves a lot of mulling over. 

Leaders must be judged within the context of the circumstances they encounter.

Lee Kuan Yew

From that context, Angela Merkel, Vladmir Putin, Narendra Modi, and many others are all distinguished leaders who deserve our praise and attention. Of course, not everyone would agree to that view! But Lee Kuan Yew has a point. It’s just inconvenient to accept and change our point of view. 

That said, in my opinion, the best measure of leadership is the action in the times of crises. Nothing more, nothing less. So, if leaders choose to: 

  • stay quiet when the whole nation’s clueless about its direction
  • stay in the bunker when the country’s burning
  • invades privacy while feeding people lies, statistics, and more lies  

We would know the measure of leadership of that nation, or perhaps, an organization. The answer lies in the actions. Always.