The most prestigious leadership position this country has to offer is that of the President of the United States. And while it may be the most prestigious, few would disagree that it is also the most heavily scrutinized. Fair or unfair, public opinion of the President’s job performance shifts regularly due to any number of factors. Yet at any given time, we can quickly see what the general public thinks about the President’s job performance by looking at their approval rating.
I’ve always found this concept of a President’s approval rating to be fascinating. After all, it is extremely subjective and based on an incredibly small sample size but it is widely accepted as a relatively accurate reflection of how we all feel. This practice of using public opinion polls to determine an approval rating was introduced over 65 years ago by the Gallup organization and it’s hard to dispute their findings. In reviewing the historical approval ratings for the last dozen Presidents, it appears to be a pretty accurate representation.
My assumption is that a President doesn’t obsess over their approval rating. That said there must be value in having a quick snapshot of where you stand in the eyes of your people. Imagine one day having a 90% approval rating, making an important decision, and then the next day seeing your approval rating drop to 40%. Obviously, there’s a take-away there that could impact your subsequent courses of action. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to reverse your decision but perhaps it may cause you to re-examine your methods of communication regarding the decision you made.
This has me thinking about other practical applications for leadership approval ratings. Is there a place in corporate America for leadership approval ratings? We regularly hear about the need for greater transparency in organizations. If your CEO were to begin tracking and publicizing their approval rating on your company intranet, what impact would that have on the organization and your CEO? Furthermore, if there’s value to be found in an approval rating for the President, or your CEO, wouldn’t there also be value to be found at other levels of leadership throughout the organization?
I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts around a corporate leadership approval rating in the comment section below. And, visit Why Lead Now tomorrow for part 2 where we’ll discuss ways for you to begin thinking about your own leadership approval rating.
Adam Morris is a featured blogger at Why Lead Now, one of LeaderChat’s sister blogs, focusing on the next generation of leaders.