Leadership: How Effective Are You?

Leadership: How Effective Are You?

On October 28, 1980, Ronald Reagan challenged incumbent Jimmy Carter to a second presidential debate. The majority of people believe Reagan won the debate based on a specific question that he asked the voters. He said, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” If yes, vote for Carter. If no, vote for me. The people did not like the results Carter had delivered over his term, so they changed leaders. Leadership is a results contest. An organization’s effectiveness is based on the ability of its leader. If an organization does not deliver results, responsibility falls on the leader. The organization may even change leaders.

Everything rises and falls on leadership. Leadership is influence. The greater the leader’s influence with people, the greater their effectiveness. Just because a person has followers does not mean that they are an effective leader. A leader either makes things better or worse for the people that follow them. Strong leaders make things better for people by adding value. Weak leaders make things worse for people by subtracting value. A leader add values when they intentionally work to advance or serve others. A leader subtracts value when they put their personal needs above the organization and its people.

The key question is, how do you measure the effectiveness of a leader? You apply the Reagan Test. The Reagan Test asks, is the organization and its people better off because you are the leader? That is, are things better or worse? Have you taken performance higher in all areas? While leaders may teach what they know, they always reproduce what they are. Effective leaders are highly intentional about building strong organizations and developing capable people. They know that the development and growth of people is their highest calling. For non-management leaders, the same test applies to their direct and extended teams, as well as partners.

For people to reach their highest potential, they must keep growing. Growth does not occur without positive change. Leaders do not change people. They are agents of change. The create an environment conducive to change. The effectiveness of the leader is measured by the performance of their followers. If their followers are not effective they say, what can I do to help? . . . what can I do differently? Their perspective is never, what is wrong with them? To determine the effectiveness of a leader, look at the success of their followers. That is how leaders are measured by others. That is how leaders measure themselves.

All contents copyright © 2010, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.

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