How to Lead KPIs When Leaders Don’t

by Stacey Barr |

A performance culture – including performance measurement practice – should be led from the top. But it doesn’t always happen that way. When leaders won’t lead KPIs, the best thing to do is be… courageous.

It’s one of the most cited reasons my training participants give for not implementing what they learned about how to measure performance:

  • My leader just doesn’t get it…
  • Our leadership team isn’t supporting us…
  • Leaders are sabotaging our new approach…

So they stop. They say they’ll pick it up later. Wait for the new strategic plan. Start again after the restructure. Hold out for a new leader. Basically, do nothing.

Waiting for leaders to lead KPIs is a colossal waste of time.

Change doesn’t start anywhere else other than the spot where the need for change is felt the deepest.

If you’re passionate about good performance measurement, and your leaders aren’t leading it, then the change must start with you.

You can start the change easily, by throwing a pebble in the pond.

There’s plenty you can do, to lead KPIs and performance measurement without positional power. Instigate some small act that will create ripples others will notice.

You could throw one of these pebbles:

The challenge is not complexity; it’s courage.

The steps to take for any of the above listed changes are easy enough.

But it’s even easier to fall back into doing only what we’re told and following orders and post-rationalising with cliches like “well, that’s just how things happen around here.”

It takes courage to initiate a change that matters.

Courage is often described as feeling the fear and doing it anyway. If there is no fear, no uncertainty, no anxiety about screwing up, then courage isn’t needed.

I’m not aware of any other way of developing courage than practicing it. Pick one of the pebbles above, and start your practice of courage there. Otherwise – and I don’t want this for you – just give up trying and give up complaining about it.


What are your obstacles to engaging leaders to lead better KPIs and performance measurement?

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  1. Fabulous newsletter!!

    Thanks for sharing insights from your Anzac Day. Courage, in all forms, is so inspiring!

    Great tips, too, for how those not in formal leadership positions can become leaders through their passion.

    Thanks so much!



  2. Jeffrey J Reich says:

    Also, consider working it from their ‘hunger point,’ where is their need? Stacey has pushed back against going out of order instituting the methodology. But if leadership isn’t backing, or even tolerating, the method, do what they’ll let you do.

    In our case, leadership was questioning if the charting being used was telling the story. They even went so far as to say, “are we measuring the right things”? Yet, the apprehensiveness to assess the goals using PuMP resisted. So, I socialized the ‘X’ chart.

    Eventually, I hit on a very influential colleague who asked me to help him translate his data using the PuMP Smart Charts. After creating them for his typical assortment of metrics, he exclaimed, “this is good.. yeah now I need to know what they want me to measure!” That’s when I said, “now we’re talk’n!” I then had his ear, and laid out how the PuMP methodology drives down to narrow in on the metrics that culminate in good KPIs.

    So now I’m getting more and more of our people through the Workshop, and senior leaders through the 1-day seminar. We were just handed down new strategic goals and are launching our measurements and results team. We’ll let you know how it goes!

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