LEADERSHIP BIRTH RATE: Some Leaders Are Just More Fertile Than Others

Kris Dunn Career Paths, HR, HR (& Life!) Advice, Kris Dunn, Leadership, Learning, Learning and Development

A few months ago, I wrote about an alternative measurement of quality of leadership called Leadership Gravity.  I’ve got another one for you, but this one is about kicking the kids out of the nest rather than attracting them.

Good leaders attract people to them like moths to the light you left on overnight on your back porch.  The great ones also see people leave them on a regular basis, but for all the right reasons.

Another great measurement of leadership is something I first heard of from FOT’s own Tim Sackett.  It’s called Leadership Birth Rate or LBI. Great leaders tend to create environments where their individual contributor employees grow to become managers of people.

Great leaders and managers are always looking to grow the individual contributor talent they have. They’re delegating important tasks to employees, having career conversations with them and doing a multitude of other things that create engagement and excitement for those who report to them.

As a result, quality leaders give birth to more managers of people per capita than average leaders. You know this to be true, but you’ve never tried to measure it.

Leadership Birth Rate (LBI) measures the percentage of employees on any team, department or division who grow up to become managers of people in your company.

I know, I know… you’ve got a million concerns about measuring this. Let me be clear: If you want to start measuring leadership, you can either have an opinion and start measuring, or you can wait for the perfect measurement no one will have objections to.  Good luck with that.

The concept of leadership is a squishy thing. Left to their own devices, your management team is going to subscribe to what I’ll call the “book-of-the-month-club syndrome,” which sees them focus on whatever book is on the business best seller list when it comes to best practices in leadership.

Great authors like Buckingham, Maxwell or Collins (have we forgotten about Jim Collins and Good to Great, people?) aren’t wrong about leadership. But there’s more to leadership than they can cover in a single book, and most importantly—they don’t tell you how to measure it.

Are Leadership Gravity and Leadership Birth Rate perfect measurements? Of course not. But they represent an important start in measuring effective leadership in your organizations.

The best way you can get started measuring LBI or LG is to do a study. Whatever your company, your division, your location—look back at 5 years worth of data to put these measurements together.  That type of data set will give you comfort with the standard deviation, and it will also make you more comfortable with the early returns/numbers you see from the new managers as they arrive at the one- year mark as leaders in your organization.

Start measuring leadership today. It’s not important whether your metrics are perfect. What matters is the quality of the conversations that result from you being brave enough to create a scoreboard on leadership.

FOT Note: This rant is brought to you by the good folks at Meridian, who like us enough to be an annual sponsor at FOT for all content in our learning and development track (and don’t expect that we run any of this by them ahead of time). They’re also up for having fun to the extent that they’re sponsoring the Learning and Development Hangout Series. Check it out!

Kris Dunn
Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He's also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.