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People have been debating what makes a good leader since Plato extolled the virtue of wisdom in a leader and Aristotle threw his hat into the ring. Aristotle knew that to accomplish anything in life, you need to have courage, think differently and take risks.
That fits perfectly with what Roselinde Torres had to say about what makes a good, effective leader in a 2014 Ted Talk on the subject. She stressed the importance of diverse thinking and building diverse networks comprised of people from many different backgrounds. Torres argued that the best leaders were able to use this vast and varied pool of resources to think around corners, spot opportunities with huge potential payoffs and be courageous enough to take risks in pursuit of them, for themselves and their followers.
Torres didn’t name that approach to leadership as such, but in essentials it sounds akin to inclusive leadership. Giving yourself and your team every chance to succeed by practicing diverse thinking and bringing together people of all sorts in pursuit of a shared vision is admirable.
One thing Torres didn’t talk about much was how taking this approach is also likely to make for a more productive style of leadership. After all, if your company keeps seeing good results, people who work with and around you will be more motivated and momentum will start to build, leading to increased productivity. All because the leader showed what the word productivity meant to them and their goal or vision.
But what are the benefits of productive leadership? Later, we’ll talk about how productive leadership helps create momentum. The first benefit we’ll encounter is how productive leaders display their integrity.
The Upsides of Productive Leadership
This isn’t an exhaustive list but these are the best I’ve discovered.
1) Being a Productive Leader Showcases Your Integrity
Getting results is the point of business, and being able to do is a skill leaders must possess. Leaders take people where they want them to go and show them how they can get results. The best leaders lead by showing others how they can perform, not by only showing their potential. Someone who can get results has a better chance of quieting nay-sayers, which allows them to continue building their reputation People typically welcome and admire people who deliver on their promises. Those who get results.
“There are two types of people in the business community: those who produce results and those who give you reasons why they didn’t.”Peter Drucker
2) They Set the Standard
This one speaks for itself, but let’s look to the treasure trove of history for an example. In a letter to his friend General David Hunter, dated September 9th 1861, Lincoln shares his concerns about General Frémont’s ability to command.
The president wrote: “His cardinal mistake is that he isolates himself, and allows nobody to see him, and by which he does not know what is going on in the very matter he is dealing with.”
He clearly understood that leaders need to be amidst their people, setting an example and letting them see — through that leader’s actions — what is expected of them in their turn.
Sometimes, leaders expect their team to act on their word as a leader, not based on their impression of that leader’s actions. But people tend to do what they see. So, to attract thoughtful, dedicated and productive people to work with you, you have to display those qualities yourself. Good leaders also do what they can to develop desirable qualities they don’t possess.
3) Productive Leaders have Clear Direction and can Communicate It
Good leaders convey their vision consistently, clearly and with imagination. Great leaders also communicate their vision to others through their actions. Doing that means people may come to view the vision in new ways. When followers can see targets being reached and surpassed, they get a clearer idea of what bringing the larger vision to fruition could look like.
So the best leaders are themselves productive and show people what that word means in the context of their work. That encourages and validates the efforts of team members so that at the close of each productive day, your whole team is closer to making their now shared vision a reality. Continual efforts and consistently meeting goals typically brings more confidence and people start to recognise what they could really achieve together.
4) Productive Leaders are Problem Solvers
Some people in positions of leadership rely on using systems to resolve issues. But true leaders cannot always delegate problem-solving to others. Leaders should be the ones breaking down barriers, directing people and correcting mistakes. Those able to show they can solve problems effectively and creatively are also more likely to have people around them who can work and solve problems more effectively too, because they have learnt from their leader’s example. This keeps both effectiveness and, crucially, morale high. Your team, small business or giant organisation will be tricky to outperform because those who have high self-esteem and can create momentum tend to get stellar results.
Speaking of creating momentum, let’s go into that next.
5) Momentum is Created by Productive Leaders
This one is interwoven with the previous point about morale. Businesses that can sustain high levels of morale through productive leadership are able to sustain a highly productive level of performance over time.
Momentum is great for a leader. If you don’t have it, everything feels like a slog. It feels like swimming through treacle. But when you’ve got momentum, it makes doing what you do much a cake-walk. It’s easy, like you’re on a jet-ski cutting through the clear surface of the water. In consequence, your performance improves more than your level of ability would suggest. That’s why great productive leaders don’t only problem-solve well, but also spend time actively trying to create momentum, to really get things motoring.
Let’s look at groups of people and how they impact momentum.
- People who are movers and shakers and get stuff done.
- People who go with the flow.
- People who create issues and undermine morale.
The first group of people help create momentum, the second group take momentum, and the third group break momentum.
As the leader, you should invest most of your time and energy into people who make stuff happen and ensure that they are placed in positions where they can have the most impact. Momentum makers can be enlisted to help motivate and encourage momentum takers. You can deal with momentum breakers by having straight-talking conversations with them. Perhaps they will then transform themselves into momentum takers. This may be where inclusive leadership can come into its own, giving plenty of scope for people to change themselves and their attitudes. If every chance has been given for them to do so, the last recourse is to separate them from momentum makers and takers to limit the harm they’re able to do.
6) Productive Leadership Can help Build First-Rate Teams
People like to associate themselves with winners. Winners – no matter in which area of life – attract people of all sorts. The secret to creating a successful team is through learning the knack of recognising, choosing and keeping the best of those whom your own efforts and success attracts. Obviously, bringing together talented, skilled people doesn’t ensure your success. You can experience failure as part of a good team. But, crucially, you can’t win if you’re part of a poor, unmotivated team.
Your chances of gaining success are higher if you have the right sort of people around you. You can work to turn them into a diverse, highly motivated team. If you’re not someone who gets results, you’ll be less likely to attract talented, resourceful people in the first place.
If you and your people are among the first to spot a shift in the market and make the right moves to capitalise on it, you’ll be in line to receive the best possible personal, professional and financial rewards, before your competitors catch up. That’s great for motivation as well as future productivity, and the physical and mental wellbeing of your team members. As you take more risks that pay off, more people are likely to believe in what you’re doing, and give you their all, as long as you continue to give your best efforts in return.
What more could you ask of productive leadership than to build a team and networks which help you spot market and cultural shifts with big potential payoffs, which you then have the nous and ingenuity to act upon. If you’ve cultivated truly productive leadership skills, you and your people will have the courage to take the next leap forward towards your shared vision.
So if you want to build a fantastic, world-class team of people who are dedicated to helping you achieve your vision — whatever that may be — use these tips to develop yourself into a kick-ass productive leader anybody would want to follow, no matter where or how far you take them.