Leadership Metrics of Success

By | August 26, 2019

[August 26, 2019]  If you want to debate the definition of leadership, ask any two Army Lieutenant to tell you what they think.  Usually, an argument will ensue between them regarding what makes up a successful leader.  There are a few things; however, they might agree upon – metrics of success.

Some folks will argue that the whole point of this leadership blog is to explore leadership metrics of success and note that the answer lies somewhere between the scientific, measurable realm and the mystical, qualitative.  While that is certainly true, it doesn’t move us any closer to gaining a better understanding and it doesn’t help us to be a successful leader.

Below, what I’ve done is scoured the literature on leadership and came up with five metrics of success for leadership.  These are not the only ones, of course, but they are standouts.  We can qualitatively measure these metrics; although not perfectly.  Here are those that make the most difference:

  1. Reliability: Leadership means being thorough, competent, and professional.  If there is a job that needs doing, reliability means that a leader can consistently get it done every time and done right.
  2. Integrity: Leaders are honest about what they can and cannot accomplish and are up-front about their capabilities, values, and loyalties.  The best leaders are also self-policing; meaning they do the right things without being told or supervised.
  3. Dependable:  The top leaders are those that are the “go-to” person who has the ability to distinguish between what they know, what they don’t know, and what they think.  Such an ability is rare and is what we mean by dependable.
  4. Trustworthy:  Leaders are always “on point.”  They are out front leading people.  Developing that trust, where people know you will support and care for them, is crucial to building the trust others must have to make a real leader.
  5. Coordinate and Cooperate: If a leader cannot follow, then they also cannot lead.  Learning to cooperate with others in a team is a crucial skill set.  This means to also coordinate multiple team tasks concurrently and bring folks together to achieve a single goal.

As I’ve noted here before, leadership is difficult.  These measures of success are those things that any leader, regardless of leadership style or mission difficulty, must be able to accomplish.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

22 thoughts on “Leadership Metrics of Success

  1. Walter H.

    Good article, I enjoyed it and passed it along to two of my best friends.

  2. Dennis Mathes

    This is an exceptional list of measurements of success in not just leaders but in any person. If you have these abilities, the you will succeed. I see you listed ‘reliability’ first but I don’t think it is the very most important of all. I think trustworthiness is number one because all human relationships are built upon trust; else we would just be barbarians/animals of a low order. Even rats have some level of trust in other rats.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      Hi Dennis, good point. I haven’t seen you in the comment section for a few weeks. Hope that all is well with you.

  3. Martin Shiell

    I learned a lot from this leadership blog post. I only wish we could get a little more detail. Thanks for those pointing this out. I’m not negative but would like to see more examples of measures of success.

    1. Ronny Fisher

      There are many parts of measuring success but even those are subjective to a degree. For example, loyalty, selfless service, respect for others, etc. You can see them but measuring on a scale of 1 to 10 might be hard.

  4. Drew Dill

    I got a call from my daughter over the weekend and she was telling me about her first annual evaluation at work. She was graded against other young managers on several areas: potential, leadership, intelligence, and ability to accomplish a task with minimal guidance. I guess this is an example of measuring “metrics of success.”

  5. Wilson Cox

    Super comments so far on this article by Gen. Satterfield. Keep up the great thinking folks. This is one of the reasons I keep coming back to this leadership website.

  6. Nick Lighthouse

    Excellent article but I’ve never personally seen how these measures actually get measured. Anyone with any idea how this would work?

    1. Gil Johnson

      Good question. I think most of the measurements are qualitative and dependent upon the experience of those doing the ‘measurement.’

  7. Len Jakosky

    Here’s a good question: “How well is the leadership of the freedom movement in Hong Kong doing today?” This is a issue that is of upmost import. Today, we have a great nation wanting to crush an “uprising” within its sphere of influence. Will the rest of the world allow that to happen? Or will the world – like the UN – turn a blind eye?

    1. lydia

      Great question (or 2 or 3). No one can answer them, of course. These issues are ignored by many in the West’s media because it doesn’t fit their insular narrative of Russian collusion of a US president. Crazy world we live in.

    2. Yusaf from Texas

      There is great danger when you do not ‘see’ the danger in front of your face. That is what much of the West has done recently. Or have they just buried their heads in the sand?

  8. Max Foster

    I was thinking the other day, how do you measure a successful leader in terms of their skills, habits, and desires. What about their vision? Their ability to communicate? These are things that can, to a degree, be measured. Thanks Gen Satterfield for a good article that begins this important discussion.

    1. Walter H.

      The exact HOW to measure is likely a product of debate in the leadership community and a healthy debate is overdue. Just look at many colleges and the poor leadership they’ve shown over the past decade or so in how they handle errant students. They performed poorly.

      1. Eric Coda

        An important issue that should never be overlooked. Well said, Walter.

    2. Doug Smith

      Excellent idea Max. Thanks. I too have been thinking of this very issue. It makes me feel better to know that others are thinking the same thing and also struggling with the idea.

    1. Xerxes I

      Thanks Army Cpt. I was thinking the same. Also, thanks for your service.


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