How Do You Measure A Successful Leader?

by Christos Papoutsy

Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked: Leadership is defined by results not attributes. Many books, articles, business courses, and seminars are made available every year on how to be a leader. The term leadership has become a catchy phrase motivating business schools and others around the world to offer courses and programs on “Leadership”.

Many of these programs miss the mark by teaching how to become a leader and various techniques for applying leadership programs and strategies. Considerable emphasis on successful leadership is weighted towards: gender style, likeability, relationships and personal traits, all of which contributed but are not the most important. A successful leader is measured by the outcomes, not style. It’s about fulfilling stated objectives and about handling opportunities and threats.

Successful leaders are people who are seen not just immediately but in the long term as those who have achieved what they set out to do.

Leaders should be judged not when objectives and stated plans have been completed, but a few years after that. Too often leaders are seen as people who need to be judged on the actions they take rather than on what they achieve. They are also judged too early. In other words, if somebody looks good on paper and how they run a business at this moment. A good leader in addition to achieving goals and objectives has to be able to avoid disasters and steer the business or programs in the right direction. There usually is a long lag by the time one can understand whether leaders are really good leaders.

Part of being a good leader is about listening very carefully to what people say. Leaders in any organization face choices every day. With it, they face the choice to take those opportunities or not. That is where judgment of a leader is crucial and helpful to have a leader around for a little while. As critical as taking an opportunity is realizing that you need to do something differently.

It’s important for leaders to bring out the best in people they manage.

Leaders should be authentic and be themselves. People respond much better to leaders who are open and behave like themselves rather than trying to be what they imagine a leader should be like.

It’s all about treating people as adults, involving them in decision making and making sure that people understand what’s going on.

Having the opportunity to have a dialogue is critical to being a good leader.

It’s vital to create an organization that people are proud to be part of.

The most important capital of a business or organization is their “human capital”.

As a leader, don’t withhold important pieces of information. Tell things as they are. People appreciate being told the truth, even though the truth is sometimes uncomfortable. It’s still better than having a set of public relations statement. People should have all the facts, and there shouldn’t be a sense that there is some kind of gulf between the management and them.

Leaders need to have integrity and character, armed with a vision and mission. Remember that leaders are imperfect beings and require the input from those in the business or organization.

"Where there is no vision, the people perish."--Proverbs 29:18

(Posted 12 November 2013)

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For more information about Mr. Christos Papoutsy, his schedule of free lectures, or to read his other articles on corporate social responsibility and business ethics, visit the About Us, Business or Business Ethics Sections of the Hellenic Communications Service (HCS) website, or the web pages of the Christos and Mary Papoutsy Distinguished Chair in Ethics at Southern New Hampshire University at the URL HCS readers who enjoy this article may wish to read “Corporate Social Responsibility: Is Moral Capitalism Possible?” and Business Institutionalization Promotes Excellence, Combats Corruption.”

Mr. Papoutsy welcomes comments and can be reached via e-mail at the address

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