Measuring the intangible
Alison. As Josie says, we humans are complicated creatures. There are lots of measures out there, and none of them measure everything, so I have a question - What are you hoping to find out from any measure? What do you want it to tell you, or what do you want to use the results for? That would help to narrow the field.
34 months ago
I have been facilitating leadership development training for 20+ years from both an academic and professional capacity. I would suggest using language in the learning objectives that reflects observable, tangible behavior. If the leaders who are being developed are not able to exhibit tangible leadership behaviors, then I'd likely question the intent of the training. Not to over-simply a response because I agree that humans are very complex beings, but at the end of the day, I would concur with Alan in terms of what you're looking to accomplish with 1) the development of leaders, 2) what you're hoping the data (either quantitative or qualitative) will reveal, and 3) how are the results being tied to the organizational mission and vision.
Good luck on your quest!
Beyond the formal measurement assessment tools, a basic but effective method I have utilized to assess the development of intangible leadership skills is actual leadership interaction. When interacting with the leader, what does their executive presence tell me about them - their communication/listening skills, confidence vs. arrogance, visionary vs opportunist, how they value people and their contributions, etc. Although there is some subjectivity to this, if balanced with formal assessment tools, it will provide a more comprehensive view of the leader.
Hi Leah, measuring human development is a problematic endeavour just because we are so complex as individuals. However, I have been working in the field of human and leadership development for about 20 years and offer the following as my reflections on how you might undertake this.
There is a growing body of empirical research on the stages of human development. Some different models exist, but there is widespread agreement that there are predictable stages of development. The model and theory that I am most interested in at present is Terri O’Fallon’s STAGES model. It builds upon and extends work by other researchers such as Jane Loevinger and Susanne Cook-Greuter. It integrates this research with the integral framework inspired by Ken Wilber.
The way development is ‘measured’ is through a sentence completion test that is completed by the participant who desires to understand more about their stage of development. These sentences are assessed, usually by at least two people, who are accredited in scoring the model. Feedback is then provided and usually comes with an individual coaching session to debrief and make sense of the feedback. The coaching session also helps the participant understand how to support their further development if that is what they desire.
If you would like more specific information to follow up - please let me know, and I can send you a few links.
As some others have suggested, I think there's still a place for goals, objectives and strategies in leadership development. Our progress must be measured against something that is agreed upon (in the organizational culture or perhaps new org goals) and measurable. I come from a research background and no feedback was acceptable without some evidence (data) to support it.
Beyond the vital perspective of other proven leaders concurring that the individual has demonstrated developmental progress in shouldering and executing greater leadership responsibilities over time, I would look for the following evidences: (1) the ability to initiate substantive change, acceleration of an organization's upward trajectory, and improved teamwork/unity, (2) the clear sense that a wide variety of subordinates and stakeholders trust and respect them and are content to stay engaged in the pursuit of longer-range objectives, (3) the sustained satisfactory performance against plan of the part of the organization under their leadership (presuming that their integral involvement in the authoring of of relevant objectives), and (4) the evidence of continuing curiosity, engagement, and problem-solving drive on their part (generally rooted in a sense of long-term stewardship responsibility) in spite of the external conditions and potential excuses extant.
Don Barefoot, Integrity CEO Advisors
Leah, all that has been said here by other is true. And the reason I moved to the stages of development, is because the ability to perform, lead change etc in orgnisations within a world that is demonstratively more interconnected and complex, is driven by each leader’s ability to see, think and understand that complexity. The developmental stages help track and develop how people comprehend themseves, others and the world around them. Evidence linking stages of development with leadership capacity is provided within Leadership Agility: five levels of master for anticipating and initiating change by Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs.
Good luck in your research :)
Hello, the key question that needs to be answered is what someone would like to measure and how to use the measurement. If we are looking to an asset valuation approach considering leadership as a part of company's assets I believe this is reflected in the market valuation of each company (at least for those listed) that is forward looking and includes, among others, markets' confidence on leadership capabilities and their development.
I would take a very pragmatic approach to get a sense of where they are.
Have a one hour discussion with them where they describe their day to day routines. Look for how they spend their time on tactical versus strategic/leadership issues. And for each of these, look for verbal and non-verbal clues how this makes them feel. You could either mentally or on paper translate that in a 2*2 matrix with on one axis tactical - strategic and the other unhappy-happy. If the majority of your observations are in the tactical-unhappy quadrant, you have a big issue. If tactical-happy a smaller issue. If strategic-unhappy they are currently growing and at their stretch levels.If strategic-happy they may be growing, but not stretched.
Depending on where they should be in their planned/projected growth you can then draw conclusions / form hypotheses and take it from there.
You know, I was given a method of forecasting that worked very well for me though others struggled. The idea was to go through your prospects, multiply the amount their sale would be times the percentage of likelihood they would buy this month. The likelihood part is instinctive and the better you are and feeling within you what that may be, the more accurate you will become.
When you are talking about intangible development in people you are talking about instinctive reasoning or delving into that more spiritual aspect connecting one person to another. There are no defined algorithms, surveys or tests that can assure accuracy on such a quest because most people's guess about themselves are about as good as your's would be about them. It is like that age old question, "What do women want?" Even they don't know. Measure as you will but you might as well measure the speed of thought, if you can.