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Leadership ability doesn't always correlate with the formal hierarchy. Moreover, top-down leadership appointments can produce unwanted side effects--like too much energy being expended in managing up. The challenge: find and empower the "natural" leaders within your organization. The solution: Develop a dynamic system for measuring an individual’s “natural leadership”—that is, the extent to which their contributions are seen as valuable, both inside and outside of an organization, and publish these results for all to see.
To identify the natural leaders you need to know …
- Whose advice is sought most often on any particular topic?
- Who responds most promptly to requests from peers, and
- Whose responses are judged most helpful?
- Who is most likely to reach across organizational boundaries to aid a colleague?
- Who gets the most kudos from customers?
- Who’s the most densely connected to other employees?
- Who consistently demonstrates real thought leadership?
- Who seems truly critical to key decisions?
A lot of the data you need to answer these questions is lurking in the weeds of your company’s e-mail system and social software platform. Nevertheless, it will take some creative effort and software tweaks to ferret it out. A few suggestions…
- Conduct a social network analysis to identify employees that have broad, diverse, and helpful connections with peers across the company (if you want to see how Whirlpool did this, check out this MIX story)
- Add a small box at the end of every incoming e-mail that let’s the recipient grade the sender’s response: was it timely, was it helpful?
- Analyze internal e-mail flows to see which folks are most likely to respond positively to emails from colleagues in other divisions—who’s collaborating across unit boundaries?
- Create a system for ranking the frequency and value of each employee’s contributions to internal social collaboration platforms (e.g., Yammer, Jive, Chatter).
- Encourage employees to write internal blogs, and to rank posts and comments.
There are other types of data that might also be useful—but you get the idea. Sure, there are some practical challenges in collecting and analyzing this sort of data. But ultimately, it should be possible for a company to create a multivariate leadership score for every employee.
What I really like about this idea is looking at leaders from a full spectrum perspective.
The popular notion of performance is a short-term view on a person's immediate and direct contribution to create value.
In contrast, the leader meter also takes into consideration the more indirect but equally performance relevant impact on other resources (customers, employees, suppliers etc.).
Furthermore, additionally measuring/ranking aggregation and developmental aspects enables the transformation from 20th century performance into 21st century progression management.
Finally, all technological means required to implement this idea are available today – great idea, sound and realistic concept.
Gary - fabulous idea! And yes, there are surely a myriad other data flows that along with email, would help leaders and those developing them and those working for them have more actionable data on performance, value and developmental gaps. And, if we could get Board members do have an equivalent system - Board Meter ? - then governance practices would likely improve more rapidly as well. Thanks Gary!
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