The difference an effective leader makes

by | Aug 11, 2020 | Leadership

In May 2020, I wrote a blog titled “A leader’s infinite mindset inspires.” I’ve continued to reflect on the infinite mindset that is needed in organizations, and one of the most powerful quotes from Simon Sinek’s The Infinite Game describes one way we can measure the long term success of an organization:

“In the Infinite Game, the true value of an organization cannot be measured by the success it has achieved based on a set of arbitrary metrics over arbitrary time frames. The true value of an organization is measured by the desire others have to contribute to that organization’s ability to keep succeeding, not just during the time they are there, but well beyond their own tenure.” (p. 9) 

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Can you imagine how different organizations world be if leaders focused on improving “the desire others have to contribute to that organization’s ability to keep succeeding, not just during the time they are there, but well beyond their own tenure”? (p. 9)

It’s no secret that humans are motivated by short term outcomes. Leaders can choose to focus on short term metrics or focus on the long term. In reality, leaders set the tone and have a tremendous influence on their organizations and the individuals they are surrounded by. 

There are numerous studies that emphasize the importance of quality leadership on organizational and employee performance. In addition, many of us have anecdotally experienced how a manager’s efforts increased or decreased our motivation and job performance. 

Gallup has extensively researched team engagement. As Gallup shared in their book, It’s the Manager, the role of the leader is extremely important. Clifton and Harter (2019, p. 12) found that “70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager.” When things go wrong, do leaders look at themselves 70% of the time or blame other factors?

Gallup’s (2019) research has led to identifying “The 12 Elements of Great Management” that can be answered by employees to determine the level of engagement of individuals and entire organizations:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right. 
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission or purpose of my organization makes me feel my job is important.
  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow. (pp. 286-300)

Clifton and Harter (2019) cite numerous studies related to employee engagement and improved organizational outcomes, including profitability, safety, customer satisfaction, productivity, lower employee turnover, and quality. 

The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner (2017) is considered a classic leadership book by many. Through years of research, the authors have identified “The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership”:

  1. Model the Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart (2017, p. 12-13)

According to Kouzes and Posner (2017), leaders who put these practices into action more often than other leaders:

  1. “Create higher-performing teams
  2. Generate increased sales and customer satisfaction levels
  3. Foster renewed loyalty and greater organizational commitment
  4. Enhance motivation and the willingness to work hard
  5. Facilitate high patient-satisfaction scores and more effectively meet family member needs
  6. Promote high degrees of student and teacher involvement in schools
  7. Enlarge the membership size of their religious congregations
  8. Reduce absenteeism, turnover, and dropout rates
  9. Positively influence recruitment yields” (p. 22)

These studies emphasize the behaviors and practices of leaders. How is your organization intentionally developing leaders who are focused on improving team engagement as described by Gallup, embodying the “The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership” identified by Posner and Kouzes, or developing “the desire others have to contribute to that organization’s ability to keep succeeding, not just during the time they are there, but well beyond their own tenure”? (Sinek, p. 9)

We help organization’s develop more effective leaders through leadership and executive coaching and training workshops. What would improved leadership do for your organization? If you are looking for ways to build the leadership potential of your employees, please contact us. Virtual and in person options are available. 


Clifton, J., & Harter, J. (2019). It’s the manager. Gallup Press.

Kouzes, J.M., & Posner, B.Z. (2017). The leadership challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organizations (6th Ed.). Wiley. 

Sinek, S. (2019). The Infinite Game. Portfolio/Penguin.