Meaning & Measurement: The M&Ms of leadership
There are two important aspects that all leaders cannot afford to ignore: meaning and measurement. Both are in dire need of being rethought given the context in which we find ourselves.
Meaning is not derived from work. It can be when your job is saving lives or the pursuit of some obvious noble cause that just might save the planet. However, for many, that is not our day-to-day reality. What then about us? Understanding that rather than finding meaning in what we do, a healthier option is to bring meaning to what we do. In other words, we are the custodians of meaning. Finding meaning is our responsibility; it is an ‘in-out’ thing rather than the other way round. It is an important distinction to make and one that, if not made, can ultimately lead to a sense of futility or waste when we survey what we have done with our lives. Authentic leaders spend time thinking about meaning – for themselves and those they lead. They understand that linking meaning to activity – doing something because it really matters, is important in the work environments they create through their leadership.
What for you then creates meaning? How can you show up every day and bring meaning to whatever it is you do?
Measurement has been abused. The Industrial Age cliché, ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’ has seen the scope of measurement extend at times to absurd dimensions. Very often our overbearing bias for measurement has meant that meaning has vaporized. It might be that in pursuit of good, we have forgotten what is the ‘good’. That said, measurement is important and it is true that, ‘you get what you measure’. However, what if we are measuring the ‘wrong thing’ – or trying to measure something with measurement tools that are out-dated, ill suited and simply not up to the job? What if by using the ‘old tools’ to measure important new criteria, we are doing more harm than good?
So, what is it that you are measuring? What is it that you need to be measuring? These are not necessarily the same thing and if they aren’t, best pause and rethink things before you take another step!