Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Leadership: It's Not About Me (or LeBron James)

Key Performance Indicators:

Novelist - Daily word count
Stock Broker - return on investment for this week (or day, or month, or hour)
Retail Store Owner - daily sales versus costs
Telemarketer - how many phone calls made
LeBron James - number of buzzer-beating winning shots

Everyone has them, whether defined or not. Key performance indicators (or KPIs) are an important part of any performance evaluation. It's a useful analytical tool in every workplace.

But what are the KPIs for leadership? This is a tougher question. When in the business of serving people, of helping people be the very best they can be, of assisting people to move into an environment where they can thrive - how do you know if you're doing your job?

The key performance problem

Leadership (And I mean true leadership rather than mere positional leadership that is by name and title only) is about serving others. It is not about me. Once leadership becomes about me (my performance, my ability to 'make things happen', my acumen for doing all the things my organization can do, etc.) it actually ceases to be leadership. Work ceases to be fun. My job is about strain and stress and worry and making sure I can juggle all the balls. Spin all the plates. Do all the things that will allow me to keep my position (or impress those around me, or give me humble-brag rights about my busy schedule, or give a daily boost to my self-esteem).

To lead well, you don't have to know everything there is to know about your organization. At least not in the technical sense. Leadership in an organization is about the ability to put others in a place where they thrive. Help others use their strengths, gifts, skills, and capacities for the greater good of the mission and vision of the work. Work on increasing the capacity of those around you. That's how an organization and her people will thrive. That's leadership.

To lead well we must be about the hard work of putting people where they prosper and grow. It's putting people first.

Leadership is not about me.

The key performance indicator of excellent leadership is the joy, trust, and flourishing of everyone else around you. I daresay this may be tougher than making the buzzer-beating, game-winning shot in the NBA finals.

Leadership is compelling influence. An official position or title is not required.

This is empowerment. And empowerment is one of the most life-giving gifts we can give to anyone.