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The Official Baldrige Blog

Are You A Role Model Leader for 2021?

Role-Model Leaders showing a diverse group of women and men.
Credit: pixelheadphoto digitalskillet/Shutterstock, Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock, El Nariz/Shutterstock, Flamingo Images/Shutterstock

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 has been a year of many challenges, brought on by a global pandemic and a renewed and needed social consciousness. This past year has 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 putting emphasis on 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 blog post, 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. In this blog post, 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 whose organization can 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 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 be extended 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 of 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 the 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.

2021-2022 Baldrige Excellence Framework Business/Nonprofit feature image

Baldrige Excellence Framework

The Baldrige Excellence Framework has empowered organizations to accomplish their missions, improve results, and become more competitive. It includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence, core values and concepts, and guidelines for evaluating your processes and results.

Purchase your copy today!

Available versions: Business/Nonprofit, Education, and Health Care

About the author

Harry Hertz “The Baldrige Cheermudgeon”

I am Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon, and Director Emeritus of the Baldrige Program. I joined the Program in 1992 after a decade in management in the analytical chemistry and chemical sciences laboratories at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the home of the Baldrige Program. I started my career at NIST (NBS) as a bench analytical chemist.

My favorite aspects of the Baldrige Program are: (1) the opportunity to interact with leading thinkers from all sectors of the U.S. economy who serve as volunteers in the Baldrige Program, who participate in the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program, and who represent Award applicants at the forefront of the continuous journey to performance excellence, and (2) the intellectual challenge of synthesizing ideas from leading thinkers and from personal research into Insights on the Road to Performance Excellence and other blogs that tackle challenges at the “leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice,” and contribute to the continuous revision of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework.

Outside of work I spend my time with family (including three beautiful granddaughters), exercising, baking bread, traveling, educating tomorrow’s leaders, and participating on various boards and board committees.

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