The concept of ‘leadership yield’: What is your leadership actually getting you this year?

There’s so much written about how to lead, but very little on what a leader gets for their efforts. It’s a gap, in my view, as the outcome of leadership is as important as the act of leading. Possibly more so, in fact, as these outcomes mirror exactly the quality of leadership on offer. 

The yield you do or don’t get as a leader is invaluable data. Particularly at the start of a year, which is generally filled with big plans, clearly set intentions, and optimistic outlooks. 

‘Yield’ is a term that came to me sometime in the middle of last year. I was looking at the underpinning model Lockstep created to teach leadership and I noticed that it was mostly about inputs rather than outcomes. 

That gave me pause and I started thinking about what leaders most require from their followers in order to succeed in business. 

My working hypothesis is that these are the yields a CEO seeks:

  • Willingness (getting people to go along with what you ask of them)
  • Ambition (getting people to want to do things better)
  • Hope (getting people to get excited about a better future)
  • Generosity (getting people to act beyond their self-interest)

These four broad catch-all terms encapsulate the underpinnings of every kind of behaviour a leader needs and seeks. They are foundational ‘states’ that you shape in your people and with these yields in place, everything is possible.

If you are so drawn, do a quick scan of how easily you can locate the above four yields across your followers. I imagine that the answer might be interesting, or revealing and it’s likely that you are missing at least one of the yields. This is easily addressed as it’s part of basic leadership craft and learning how to elicit the specific yield you’re missing is easily done.

At the start of a new year, I feel it’s fair to share with you the direction of my CEO writings so that you can make a clear choice about whether my content is a good fit for you. The rallying cry will be my encouragement to build ‘businesses that matter’. This aspiration is dear to me and fuels all of my work in the CEO space. If you so choose, I hope to continue working alongside you on this noble journey toward building a different type of business that is set up to thrive in the current context that business finds itself in: complex, unpredictable, and very fast-moving. Despite these challenges, it’s a great time to be a CEO. The best-developed CEOs will thrive but those who aren’t prepared will find it very hard.

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