Five Crucial Leadership Metrics

David Paul Carter
4 min readApr 8, 2019


How do we know if we are successful as leaders? What leadership performance metrics can we measure to gauge or compare our success as leaders?

These questions have bubbled up in many of my client sessions. Verne Harnish (founder of Gazelles Inc.) published a article a while back on this very topic, which I think hits the nail on the head in today’s business environment. It details what he believes to be the five most crucial performance indicators for leadership success.

So often, most metrics don’t measure what really matters. Check out the details for each of these metrics, and see if they matter to you. See how you measure up to these performance indicators. Can they help multiply your leadership impact?

Five Leadership Metrics

Here are Verne’s five crucial performance indicators and my editorial thoughts on applying them to you and your company.

1. Your No/Yes Ratio
“… once you get clear on your strategy, you should turn down more opportunities than you embrace. Aim for a 20-to-1 ratio of noes to yeses.”
Since you don’t want to miss the boat, do you become drunk with all the possibilities as our economy continues to grow and new opportunities appear on your horizon? Are you facing an ever-increasing list of actions you want to take to move your company forward? So many choices and they are all good! Leadership author, John Maxwell, says, “Learn to say ‘no’ to the good so you can say ‘yes’ to the best.” In reality, less is more. Get to the 20-to-1 ratio and achieve fantastic focus and clarity in your leadership.

2. Number of Meals with Influencers
“Your most important job as a leader is nurturing relationships … set a weekly goal for the number of meals you’ll have with the top 250 influencers in your field.”

(IM = x meals/week) Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his international bestseller The Tipping Point, that little things can make a big difference. When it comes to engaging with your audience online, a handful of “influencers” can spread your message out to 85% of your entire audience. Likewise, engaging your key industry influencers will multiply exponentially your leadership ability to get things done for your business.

3. Hours in the “Flow”
“Stop letting your job get in the way of real work that will add value to your business … Spend an uninterrupted 90 minutes every day on … the biggest constraint you need to hurdle.”

(FH = x hours/day) Are you down in the trenches all the time? Too many fires to put out? Believe it or not, this is often much easier for many leaders to do than focus on the “big elephant” in the room — the biggest problem your business must solve. Stephen Covey in his book First Things First, teaches to focus on what is important, not merely what is urgent. Focus on what is important to dramatically improve your results.

4. Total Brains Applied
“The more brains you enlist inside or outside your company … the greater your odds of shaking up your industry.”

(BA >x brains) I have two thoughts here. First, many companies suffer from “not invented here” syndrome. In other words they discount outside thinking. This limits options and solutions to problems or possible new directions to develop. Second, he who applies the most brains wins. Are you applying as many of the right people within your company to the right things? The key message here is to seek perspectives, view points and input from both inside and outside your company. Your result will be better leadership and greater achievement.

5. Time Spent Thinking
“Follow the lead of Warren Buffett and allow time for quiet reading and thinking every day.”

(TT = x hours/day) “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln. Or “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” Albert Einstein. We often have the image of leaders in constant action. But in reality all leaders require thinking time — you will be surprised with what originates from your brain if you give it a respite (i.e. thinking time).

So there you have it — the five crucial performance indicators for leadership success:

  • NYR = 20:1
  • IM = x meals/week
  • FH = x hours/day
  • BA >x brains
  • TT = x hours/day

The larger the “x” factor and No-to-Yes ratio, the more successful you will be as a leader. How do you measure up to these performance indicators? Can they help multiply your leadership impact?

Contact me to discuss how to apply these measures to you and your company.

© 2016–2021 David Paul Carter. All rights reserved.

Originally published at on April 8, 2019.



David Paul Carter

I empower change helping passionate companies and leaders remove constraints, effect change, and generate growth. See my Carter Reports at