It’s part of what we do. It’s in our “DNA”. We want to know how many, how much, how often, how far and how fast.
But effective leaders also know that in addition to these metrics which require counting, there are also vital indicators that require WEIGHING.
They know that while counting tells you some important information, that’s often only the beginning. The complete story is only found when you take the time and invest the leadership effort required to weigh less tangible data.
Here are four scenarios that call for weighing, not just counting.
1. When you need to rally support around a cause
Counting may tell you how many are “on board”, but effective leaders will want to know WHO is on board. “Do I have the influencers on side?” In other words, effective leaders measure the weight of the voices.
2. When you need to reverse a trend
Counting may tell you which way the trend is heading (sales are declining, donations are sliding, attendance is plateauing, etc). But effective leaders want to know who has stopped buying (and who has started), and who has stopped giving (and who has increased giving). These are questions of weight.
3. When you need to respond to criticism
Counting may tell you how many complaints have been received. Effective leaders, though, want to know where those complaints are coming from in order to determine how much validity they might carry. They want to weigh the source of the complaints.
4. When you need to know “who has your back”
Counting may tell you how many senior staff showed up for work today, or how many board members make up a quorum. Weighing, though, tells you who you can count on when the going gets tough. Effective leaders weigh levels of support among key stakeholders.
Is counting important? Absolutely. Just be sure your measurement doesn’t end there. If you really want to understand what’s going on behind the numbers, learn to develop the ability to weigh, not just count.
Because very often “who” is more important than “how many”.
What other areas do you find necessary to weigh, not simply count?
Updated from April 10, 2012 post