4 Measurements Leaders Need to Weigh, not Count

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Leaders measure.

It’s part of what we do. It’s in our “DNA”. We want to know how many, how much, how often, how far and how fast.

These measurements tell us how much progress we’re making and how much distance we still have to go before achieving the goal.

But effective leaders also know that in addition to these metrics which require counting, there are also vital indicators that require WEIGHING.

They know that while counting tells you some important information, that’s often only the beginning. The complete story is only found when you take the time and invest the leadership effort required to weigh less tangible data.

Here are four scenarios that call for weighing, not just counting.

1.   When you need to rally support around a cause
Counting may tell you how many are “on board”, but effective leaders will want to know WHO is on board. “Do I have the influencers on side?” In other words, effective leaders measure the weight of the voices.

2.   When you need to reverse a trend
Counting may tell you which way the trend is heading (giving is sliding, attendance is plateauing, etc). But effective leaders want to know who is leaving (and who is coming), and who has stopped giving (and who has increased giving). These are questions of weight.

3.   When you need to respond to criticism
Counting may tell you how many complaints have been received. Effective leaders, though, want to know where those complaints are coming from in order to determine how much validity they might carry. They want to weigh the source of the complaints.

4.   When you need to know “who has your back”
Counting may tell you how many senior staff showed up for work today, or how many board members make up a quorum. Weighing, though, tells you who you can count on when the going gets tough. Effective leaders weigh levels of support among key stakeholders.

Is counting important? Absolutely. Just be sure your measurement doesn’t end there. If you really want to understand what’s going on behind the numbers, learn to develop the ability to weigh, not just count.

Because very often “who” is more important than “how many”.

What other areas do you find necessary to weigh, not simply count?

the author

Scott Cochrane


  1. Great insights Scott. I also find that when you need to understand the effectiveness of a ministry or even evaluate a staff members performance, numbers will tell some of the story – may even look positive from the numbers side of things. But weighing the ‘fruit’ of ministry is also important. You could have lots of activity and numeric response around something or someone that isn’t actually producing the end product you need to have in order to fulfill your mission and vision. Conversely, the numbers at first glance could look bad – but if the ‘fruit’ is there, slow and steady growth in alignment with mission and vision may be the most desirable result.

  2. Thanks for weighing in Jeff- your insights are so valuable. I learned early on that ‘ministry is messy’; in other words, my natural tendency to want to count everything in terms of numbers couldn’t begin to tell the whole story. As I read your comment about ‘fruit’ I’m reminded how often I have wanted to assess a ministry function based solely on ‘how many showed up’, versus ‘did the ones who did show up experience God?’

    Thanks again Jeff

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