Researchers Devise New Yardstick for Measuring Leaders

August 24, 2007

A new yardstick for measuring leadership efficacy has been developed by Kennedy School researcher Constance Hadley, working in collaboration with associate professor Todd Pittinsky and others at the Center for Public Leadership.

The Crisis Leader Efficacy in Assessing and Deciding (C-LEAD) scale captures the anticipated ability of an individual to perform two critical leadership behaviors, assessing information and making decisions, in the midst of a crisis. The scale is explained in detail in a new Kennedy School Working Paper, “Measuring the Efficacy of Leaders to Assess Information and Make Decisions in a Crisis: The C-LEAD Scale,” posted on the Working Papers website.

“To date, much of our understanding of crisis leadership is based on case studies of past crisis situations, such as the Challenger explosion and the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” the authors write.
“Such case studies have provided invaluable insight, but because they are based on individual instances, they may lack generalizability for future crises. Our research provides an empirically-derived measure of leadership efficacy that can be broadly applied to leaders at different levels and across different crisis contexts.”

To begin the empirical validation of their instrument, the researchers took advantage of a series of large-scale simulations at a federal agency designed to mirror actual public health and safety crises.

“The C-LEAD scale has demonstrated an ability to predict decision-making difficulty in crisis contexts better than other measures. Future research using C-LEAD will continue to illuminate the antecedents and consequences of this form of crisis leader efficacy, which ultimately may enhance our nation’s and the world’s ability to prevent and respond to these catastrophic events,” the authors conclude.

Authors are: Constance Noonan Hadley, Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership, Todd L. Pittinsky, Associate Professor of Public Policy, and Weichun Zhu, Post-doctoral Research Fellow. The Working Paper is posted on the Kennedy School website: http://ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/Research/wpaper.nsf/rwp/RWP07-035

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