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Harry Hertz


Are You A Role Model Leader for 2021?

These are some of the changes leaders must make in their personal roles and attributes

Published: Wednesday, March 10, 2021 - 12:01

Untitled Document

This past year has seen greater change in the work environment than any year in my recollection (and that is quite a few years). It was a year of many challenges, brought on by a global pandemic and a renewed and needed social consciousness. The past year also created many opportunities for innovation and rethinking workplace and workforce operations, customer engagement, and community well-being.

The 2021-2022 Baldrige Excellence Framework addresses these changes through revised Criteria questions and revisions to the Baldrige Core Values and Concepts. In many cases these changes involved emphasizing subjects that had already been addressed as areas of growing or emerging importance in the 2019–2020 Baldrige Excellence Framework.

Many organizations are calling the adjustments they now need to make “the new normal” that will emerge from this year of upheaval. Components of the new normal were discussed in an earlier article, “The New Normal Will Require RE2ST3.” 

One clear challenge for leaders is changes they must make in their personal roles and attributes to address this new normal. For numerous years the Baldrige Program has published a set of leadership attributes and behaviors displayed by role-model leaders and based on the Baldrige Core Values and Concepts. Given the changes we have experienced and made to the 2021–2022 Baldrige Criteria and Core Values, we have also revised our set of role model leadership attributes and behaviors

The leader’s role

I encourage you to look at the full set of modified attributes and behaviors. Here, I will highlight by area of need some of the key changes in leaders’ personal roles.


We live in a world where innovation frequently is cross-disciplinary and benefits from inputs across the organization, and from collaboration with organizational partners. Leaders must guide innovation with a greater business-ecosystem perspective. Organizational learning requires a leader who can help the organization learn from and adapt best practices, and provide an environment for intelligent risk-taking that goes beyond the organization to involve partners and collaborators. Leaders must challenge the organization to draw larger meaning from analysis of key data to judge not only current and likely future performance, but also to imagine a different and better future.

Equity and inclusion

Leaders are responsible for building a workforce culture characterized by diversity, equity, and inclusion. Opportunity and respect for all workforce members must start at the top and be role-modeled by the composition and behaviors of the leadership team. These behaviors must extend to the leaders’ treatment of customers and the community served by the organization.


Leaders must establish a resilient organization that can adapt to uncertainty. Leaders are responsible for building an organization that can anticipate and recover from emergencies and disruptions. They must lead with a strategy that builds on opportunities and addresses threats internally and through the organization’s ecosystem. Cross-training workforce members is part of a strategy for resilience.

Measuring results

To be a resilient organization, its leaders must select a composite of measures that include financial, product and process, customer, workforce, leadership, strategy, and societal performance. Key stakeholders will hold leaders accountable for these measures, with a focus based on their individual interests.

Is your leadership team accountable for innovation, equity and inclusion, resilience, and a full suite of results? See how you measure up against the full set of leadership attributes and behaviors. You will be a better leader for the actions you take, and your organization will be a better organization as a result.

First published Feb. 16, 2021, on NIST’s Blogrige.


About The Author

Harry Hertz’s picture

Harry Hertz

Harry Hertz retired in June 2013 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where he had served as director of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program since 1995. For more than 15 years he was the primary architect of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, responsible for expansion of the Baldrige Program and Award to healthcare, education, and nonprofits, including government. Hertz serves on the advisory group for VHA’s Center for Applied Healthcare Studies, and on the adjunct faculty of American University. He has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, and a Ph.D. from M.I.T.