Lead measure: the key to continued success

Lead measure: the key to continued success

Lead Measures serve as a yardstick for the measurement of continued growth and success in a company.

Businesses and organizations strive day in and day out for success, primarily focusing on aspects that would lead their enterprise towards burgeoning growth and expansion. However, more often than not, businesses fail to achieve the right kind of success that they usually look forward to. The underlying reason behind this is the measures to gauge this success. The honchos and leaders of the bigger organizations usually do not use the right kind of measures to foresee the success of their companies. This eventually leads to failure. Decisions, both strategic and tactical, are taken in the present, while their impact and results show in the future. An increasing number of business heads and decision-makers are focused on the goal measures such as revenues and profit numbers. So when the goal is unmet, the blame is passed onto the decision and decision-makers, and does not lie with  the progress measures.


That being said, it is very important to make use of the right kind of metrics to monitor the progress of the decisions made. This brings our attention to the concept of Lead Measures, which serves as a yardstick for the measurement of continued growth and success in a company. The concepts of Lead and Lag Measures were introduced in the book ‘4 Disciplines of Execution’ co-written by Sean Covey and Chris McChesney. According to the authors, “No matter what you are trying to achieve, your success will be based on two kinds of measures: Lag and Lead. Lag measures track the success of your wildly important goals. Lags are measures you spend time losing sleep over. They are things like revenue, profit, quality, and customer satisfaction. They are called Lags because, by the time you see them, the performance that drove them is already passed. You can’t do anything to fix them, they are history.” The authors further elucidate that Lead measures indicate the crucial activities that lead to the lag measures. In simpler terms, “They predict success of the lag measure and are influenced directly by the team. A common example of a lag measure is weight loss. Which activities or lead measures will lead to weight loss? Diet and exercise! Proper diet and exercise predict the success of weight-loss and they are activities that we can directly influence. Simple enough, but be careful. Even the smartest people fall into the trap of fixating on a lag measure that they can’t directly influence. This is because lags are easier to measure and they represent the result we ultimately want.”


As we know, measurement is imperative to any given organization for their success. But to do it the accurate way is also a task and an essential one, at that! Measuring only the final output may only lead to despair and astonishment. Hence, businesses need to essentially focus on lead measures. In words, lead measures are essentially indicators to define, assess and monitor progress. Lead measures are pivotal to enable a leader to define his set of objectives would be:


Being Predictive


The foremost attribute of a lead measure is that it is predictive in nature. Meaning, if a lead measure happens to change, then one can anticipate that the lag measure or end result will change as well. A very simple example would be, if your aim is to measure weight loss and you decide to change the lead measure of the number of times you have exercised in the past few days then the ultimate outcome or the lag measure will eventually change.


 Lead Measures are influence-able in nature


Lead measures are independent of other teams. They can be influenced by a single team, without having to depend on another. For instance, a team present on the shop floor is capable of enhancing customer satisfaction without taking the help of the manufacturing team. Hence, it can be concluded that this attribute of lead measure is quite an easy one. However, it is important to remember that lead measures can be abstract in nature too.


Lead measures can be broken down into smaller business goals


Tracking lead measures are quite a simple task in regards to personal decisions such as participating in an examination or weight loss. Having a fitness regime and diet programs become the lead measures for weight loss. However, when it comes to an athlete who is at the peak of his performance trajectory, lead measures can become difficult to use. Lead measures are harder to use when the scope of improvement becomes narrower. In such cases, the performance is usually broken down into smaller goals and is  measured accordingly. Hence, for instance, an ace swimmer has to work on a particular angle of diving in the pool to become faster. These are small, yet hard to measure goals.  


Lead measures tend to be behavioral in nature


Lead measures also mean, “Measure the new behaviors that will drive success on the lag measure”. For instance, offering free product samples in a bakery can be used as a lead measure to enhance customer happiness. Increasing the number of customers receiving the free samples will eventually lead to improvement of the lag measures such as revenues. Lead measures help to improve behaviors and habits you directly control in the near future that will have a positive impact on long term goals.


Leaders must remember, measurement should not be seen as the indicator of productivity, rather it should be seen as an enabler of right behaviors for the team to accomplish the set goal. Behavioral shifts take time, but create a leverage which has magnificent results that would lead to continued and assured success.




Vishakha Singh, a thought leader and a pioneer in the forward-thinking space has authored the course SHIFT (Simple Habits and Ideas for Forward Thinking). Her relentless curiosity coupled with a rich experience of 20 years in the entrepreneurial and corporate world has driven her towards disruptive thinking and innovation which is now strongly reflected in her course. She is a critical thinker and affirms that innovative, creative thinking is a skill that can be acquired and developed by anybody. She writes at , offering insights into the ever-changing business environment.


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