The 5 Ps of leadership — a leader's scorecard Featured

8:00pm EDT July 31, 2012
The 5 Ps of leadership — a leader's scorecard

Fast forward to the day you step down from your post. How will you be remembered by those left to continue the work? Will your name be thought of fondly, or will people be cheering your departure?

A leader’s legacy depends on how those who follow think about leadership. Likewise, it depends on what they value in a leader. Like an Olympic athlete, your job is to make the most difficult of tasks look easy and graceful. At least that’s what people want, but this is a tall order, says Scott Allen, Ph.D., assistant professor of management, Department of Management, Marketing and Logistics, Boler School of Business, John Carroll University.

“On what are you being judged?” says Allen. “In actuality, leadership is in the eye of the beholder. However, there are some leaders who rise above the rest and truly stand out. This is not magic, nor are people born with it. It boils down to five core elements, which make up a ‘leadership scorecard’ of sorts. Great leaders – the Olympians – have succeeded in five core areas, which I call the 5 Ps: personal attributes, position, purpose, processes and product.”

Smart Business spoke with Allen about the 5 Ps and the best practices of leaders.

What are the personal attributes of a leader’s scorecard?

These are your traits, knowledge, values, skills and abilities. Are you credible? Ethical? Trustworthy? Intelligent? A ‘no’ on any of these will be a difficult pill for many to swallow. People may not know what you know, but they know how you make them feel. So in many ways, personal attributes are all about what you bring to the role. Of course, each one of us brings great strengths and areas for development. The question is, do you have an eye on both, and who is providing you with unfiltered feedback?

How do you use the position of leader?

Is your power used to develop and build others? Or are you perceived as an individual who hoards his or her information and power? Likewise, do you use the position and your authority in a consistent manner, or do you play favorites, lack consistency and abuse your discretion?

How does the leader’s purpose answer the question, ‘Leadership for what?’

Leaders are clearly aligned around a cause or purpose and influence others to follow. Another way to think about purpose is strategy. Is your vision and the strategy behind it one that motivates and resonates with others? Some leaders inspire a shared vision and have the ability to manage that vision into reality. Others fail to inspire the troops. Think about the last time you spoke to, the masses – did they leave energized? Did you?

What practices/processes does a leader use?

The practices/processes of leadership describe how you achieve your purpose and how you move the group, organization, or community from point A to point B. For instance, is your style a democratic one where many feel a part of the endeavor, or is it coercive and autocratic?

What is the end product?

Some wonder if the success or failure of the leader can be determined prior to knowing the final result. In the end, people will determine if they feel that they are better off because of your efforts. Has your time been filled with growth, innovation, and exciting ventures? Or, have your efforts failed to achieve desired results?

Why do all five Ps matter in leadership?

As a leader, you and your senior team need to have an eye on each one of these items. You may have great success and three of the five, but fail in two, and the result is that you are not perceived as a strong leader or leadership team. For instance, you could have the first four Ps in place but lack results and suddenly your job is in jeopardy. Likewise, you could have the last four Ps in place but be perceived as unethical, untrustworthy, and unapproachable. Again, your legacy is tarnished. Just think of all the CEOs and politicians who struggled with one or more of the 5 Ps. Who stands out from your own career? Who did all five well? Who did not and how did it impact their career?

How do you better manage your legacy and ensure that each of the 5 Ps are well balanced?

First, have the 5 Ps on your radar and critically analyze your current state. How are you perceived, how do you use your position, how do you inspire a vision, and do you have systems in place to ensure results? An open and honest conversation between you and your team will likely reveal a great deal. If this culture does not exist, build it.

Next, develop outlets and access to unfiltered feedback. You may not always agree with the feedback you hear, but at least you have a pulse on how you, your vision and your team are perceived. If you are viewed as a person open to positive and negative feedback, you will have access to more information. However, if you are perceived as a person who holds grudges, or responds negatively or even abrasively, then it is likely people will avoid sharing information and honest feedback.

Finally, implementing a simple continuous improvement cycle where you and your team can receive feedback/coaching, gauge progress, identify gaps, and then adjust can take you to the next level of leadership.

Monitoring the 5 Ps will create buyin for your vision, develop trust in you as a leader, ignite employee enthusiasm and productivity, solidify your legacy as a leader and create a system of continuous leadership improvement within your organization. Leaders have a responsibility to help create a culture that is engaging, innovative, and productive. Isn’t that where you would like to work?

Scott Allen, Ph.D., is assistant professor of Management, Department of Management, Marketing, and Logistics, Boler School of Business at John Carroll University. Reach him at