By Kevin Cashman, originally posted on his Forbes.com blog, Pause Point, on September 5, 2017.
Taking a true measure of our leadership success is no easy task. Do we measure net profit? Gross revenue? Customer satisfaction and loyalty? EBITDA? Quarterly results? Stock price? Social responsibility? While all these yardsticks are crucial, do they really get to the essence of what sustains leadership for the long run?
Recently, a 70-year-old CEO reflected with me, “In the end, the real measure of success will unlikely be our accomplishments or achievements. Rather, our most authentic measure will likely be the lasting impact we had on the lives of people.” I doubt many of us will lament in our final hour, “If only I had pushed for one more percentage point of profit in my last quarter!” Likely we will reflect on our key relationships, on the people we have impacted, loved, grown and been influenced by.
In the 75+ year Grant and Glueck study at Harvard, the longest continuous research study with four research leaders to date, there has been one consistent finding across the decades, across generations and across geographies: that the true measure of success and satisfaction rests on one thing, relationships.
In a leadership context, relationships play out in a multitude of ways in teams, collegial connections, culture and customers. In many ways, all leadership is in relationship, a way to add enduring value with and for people. However, I posit that there is one fundamental measure to our leadership effectiveness: how many leaders have you produced?