The Leading Measure

Today, our Fisher Leadership Initiative team is on a half-day strategic planning retreat to set our goals for the upcoming fiscal year. Over the past few months, we have applied principles from McChesney, Covey and Hurling’s bestselling book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution1, to our team. Particularly, we have set wildly important goals (WIGs), established weekly accountability meetings and made a habit of articulating who does what by when.

What’s been most transformative for our team, however, is our focus on creating and tracking leading measures (or the behaviors that make us more likely to achieve a goal), as opposed to the simply tracking the lagging measure (or whether or not we achieved the goal).

As an example, our team set a goal that 3,000 students would be directly impacted by our work through leadership activities, programs and assessments by the end of this fiscal year. Instead of simply meeting weekly to evaluate whether or not we had crossed the 3,000 student mark yet, we spent our time discussing how we were creating and marketing innovative courses to spur enrollments, brainstorming and implementing student incentives (like course extra credit points, awards and other recognition) to participate in our leadership development programs and identifying how to make our leadership assessment accessible and valuable.

Rather than spending time merely measuring the outcome, we spent our time measuring and discussing the means we could control that would make it more likely for us to be successful. (And I’m happy to report that we exceeded our goal!)

Next time you set a personal or team goal, ask yourself: What am I measuring? Am I spending time addressing and measuring what will make me more likely to achieve this goal? Or am I falling into the trap of simply tracking whether or not I achieved the goal?

Have you used The 4 Disciplines of Execution or other goal-setting framework? Leave your comments below.


1 McChesney, C., Covey, S., & Huling, J. (2016). The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals.

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