I have been thinking about organizational leadership. How do we measure leaders? Can we take apart action and measure its component parts? Here’s an approach that came to me while I was running. (Tear it to shreds. Or praise it until your heart is an emptied vessel.)
Time: How much actual time was spent on the project. If something succeeds or fails it can depend on whether a leader gave it the right attention.
Intensity: Was time spent on task deep interaction with focus or water-bug skittering?
Manner: Was the intense participation shouting from the back seat, or did the leader grab the wheel. Or did they delegate completely (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).
Plan: Was there a plan? Did it correctly anticipate the bends in the path and leave adaptation for obstacles?
Priority: Did the matter deserve the levels of time,intensity, manner and planning applied to it by the person in the corner office?
Outcome: Was the route the leader took successful?
What component part am I forgetting? A lot of times we pick one of these areas and judge a leader as having fallen short or succeeded because we measure one particular thing. But it’s usually the case that their performance is the result of a combination of factors that caused success or failure. Or, it might be that they did everything right and it was an external factor that caused failure. Woodrow Wilson applied time, intensity, and a hands on manner to the priority of the League of Nations. He lost. Could he have done anything differently? Probably not. (Certainly not in terms of effort; maybe planning was bad (too inflexible). Should he have refused to run up that hill? Probably not.
The reason we need this system for looking at component parts is that unless we come to an understanding of how many parts make up this machine and what role those parts play, we’ll keep going to the store to get either a bigger part or the wrong part or never even get to the aisle where the key part rests because we’ve been distracted by the gumball machine near the cash register. Does anyone have a quarter?