Assessing the Impact of a Leader

In scanning the business news headlines this morning, I came across an article about my former employer. It turns out that the rumor mill had been right: the CEO is leaving the company and will take a top-level position with a company on the west coast where she will be closer to home and spouse.

Coming in about seven years ago with a turn-around mandate, the CEO aggressively changed the company, growing it through a succession of acquisitions. The company is much larger now, in sales, employees, footprint, and value.

Along with this spending spree, she also drove a culture change, and a cost reduction campaign. Regarding the culture change, the CEO shook the place up in an effort to shed complacency and instill a renewed sense of ambition. Regarding the cost reductions, the acquisitions were followed by consolidations that included the firings of lots of people.

Can we assess this leader and her effectiveness? Admittedly, I am not an objective rater in this case. However, the question is: Are we better off, as a result of this CEO's leadership, than we were before?

Let's use Don's criteria:

1. Vitality: Your constituents’ productivity, their discretionary effort, their pride, team morale, commitment to quality, skill improvement, and other relevant markers that indicate engagement

2. Loyalty: Your constituents’ commitment to your organization, the rate that desireable associates choose to stay with you, their absentee and tardy rates, their willingness to refer/recruit other qualified people to your outfit

3. Results: Your constituents’ accomplishments in productivity trends, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, innovation, profitability/cost-effectiveness.

On these three measures of leader effectiveness, I'd have to give her high marks overall, though I would have some reservations on Vitality and Loyalty.

I forwarded the news article to several of my former colleagues, all downsized like me. One replied: "Wondering if she left over a year earlier would as many employees have been let go."

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 12/8/2005


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