Leadership Toolbox: Measures of Effectiveness

By | October 19, 2018

[October 19, 2018]  Last week, I attended a strategy meeting with a local college to discuss innovative and, presumably, better ways to accomplish its mission.  With declining enrollment and resources drying-up, they were interested in what others outside academic life had to say.  One of my questions was what were the college’s Measures of Effectiveness.1

I was assured the college had a Strategic Plan already in place, although only one administrator knew of it and no one knew if it were up-to-date.  I was given the college’s Strategic Plan and several associated documents later for review (they were up-to-date).  What surprised me was that there were no Measures of Effectiveness either outlined or any attempt to tie any kind of measure to how the college could be successful.  For example, there was nothing in the plan that addressed teaching or learning.

Leadership at large organizations are remiss if they don’t have measures of Effectiveness (MoE) clearly listed and how those tie into the college’s mission, vision, and core values.  Yet there is a basic questions that must asked before MoEs can be determined. “What is most important to the organization?”  This must be answered openly and honestly.

The biggest single mistake made in any organization trying to establish MoEs is measuring the wrong thing.  Such mistakes drive poor decision-making, undermine performance, misalign priorities, and frustrate employees.  They haven’t asked the basic question.

Good leadership means having useful MoEs in one’s leadership toolbox.  It doesn’t mean they all have to be written down.  Some are simple.  For example, if we are working on earning a graduate degree from an Ivy League university, the initial measure will be whether we are properly applying to those universities in the first place.

Baseball teams do this all the time.  They track a long list of statistics on each player; batting average, runs batted in, times at bat, etc.  In fact, batting average is often the main measure of success when recruiting new team players.  It turns out, however, that the ability of a player to get on first base is a much better predictor of how many runs are scored and games won.

Leaders are frequently confronted with this problem and should take great care in selecting their Measures of Effectiveness.


  1. As a side note, sometimes companies use the concept of Performance Measures (PeM) or Measure of Success (MoS). Typically, the means the same thing.  The U.S. military uses PeMs for individual performance and MoSs for unit performance. Boring stuff, I must admit, but don’t worry about that here.  Regardless of what it is called, there should be clear, concise measures that are on-target with what is successful.


[Note:]  I have a small mini-series on Leadership Toolboxes here at theLeaderMaker.com.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

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

27 thoughts on “Leadership Toolbox: Measures of Effectiveness

  1. Lady Hawk

    I’m new to this leader website and like what I read. Thanks everyone who commented here and add to my understanding of the issue.

  2. Kenny Foster

    On your next article on the leadership toolbox, I recommend you write about “creating templates” of your competition (or enemy). The point is that it gives you a simple method of predicting what will happen next and to fill in the blanks about what your competition is doing and the results. We all do this all the time but don’t put real thought into it. Doing this methodically will improve our chances of success.

  3. Eddie Ray Anderson,

    Wow, this is a great list of items for any leader who is worth their salt in the work environment. I will add that anyone, anywhere, at any time should be using this list; even if it informally. Well done here.

  4. Darryl Sitterly

    Yes! Another simple and often overlooked tool for my leadership toolkit. Thanks for adding these.

  5. Gil Johnson

    I’ve also found a laundry list of websites that discuss items that should be in our leadership toolbox but none that summarizes them as well as here. Now, just sit back and drink your coffee and pet your dog for another good read today.

  6. Eric Coda

    There are a bunch of commercial websites that go into the tools you find right here. For example I’ve linked to one below but you’ll have to pay to get it. I think that in the long run, just coming to Gen. Satterfield’s website will put in just as good of position and his website is free.

  7. Willie Shrumburger

    Another great article. Thank you for the list at the bottom of the article. 🙂

    1. José Luis Rodriguez

      More like this is what really makes Gen. Satterfield’s website worth reading daily.

  8. Joe Omerrod

    I’m constantly amazed by the lack of professionalism I see in colleges. My job in the past was to deliver medical supplies to their health clinics. The people who staffed these places had no customer service abilities and spent a lot of time goofing off. It was due to a simple lack of leadership. They could have used this MoE tool as a way to make simple improvements.

  9. Nick Lighthouse

    Thanks for another tool for my leadership rucksack. To bad many folks don’t take the time to read and study this sort of thing that can easily make them a better person and not just a better leader.

  10. Danny Burkholder

    While the point of this article is that a leader should have Measures of Effectiveness in their leader toolbox, I was disheartened to read about another academic institution that is plodding along without good direction by its senior staff and leadership. Just another example of leader incompetence at the college/university level.

    1. Anita

      Danny, you are so right about this. In my opinion its hard to tell sometimes whether it’s a lack of moral courage or a lack of competent leadership at the higher academic levels. Actually these two cannot be separated so I guess both are to blame.

  11. Max Foster

    TGIF to all the readers of Gen. Satterfield’s leadership blog. Another tool he has shown us that every leader should possess. In this case, it matters not what you call them but a leader must have some measurable way of determining if he or she is successful.

    1. Albert Ayer

      Thanks again Max for your succinct view and review.

  12. Army Captain

    Great list of leadership tools you have here. Thanks for continuing to update these.

    1. Lynn Pitts

      Hi Army Captain. I prefer to use the phrase “leader rucksack” but that would make me old fashion.

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