Mastering Productivity

Productive organizations share a common trait—highly productive leaders.

Highly productive leaders create a climate in which people go the extra mile to perform at remarkably high levels. This is because when leaders set the example, staff willingly put extraordinary discretionary effort into their work.

It’s true that not everyone is born a great or productive leader. But it’s also true that everyone can grow their leadership skills to those of greatness and productivity.

The following well-researched traits paint a picture of productive leadership.

  1. Accountability. Productive leaders hold staff accountable for outcomes. The Best Buy organization, for example, reported a 35% increase in productivity when they factored accountability for results into their staff’s work.
  2. Clear objectives. Staff is empowered to reach the organization’s goals when they understand the goals. Leaders that can explain clearly the objectives of each and every project are facilitating the organization’s attainment of goals.
  3. Continuous improvement. By proactively engaging their organization in continuous improvement, leaders also proactively encourage higher productivity. Ensuring systems and processes are up-to-date and continuously looking for ways to improve both enables higher productivity.
  4. Enthusiasm. Emotions are highly contagious. By expressing enthusiasm for a project, for the organization, and for work (in general), leaders inspire staff to radiate the same enthusiasm. The result is that enthusiastic people are more energized and willing to put in the necessary effort to achieve goals.
  5. Respect. Proactively soliciting staff’s advice not only engages staff, but also encourages respect. And where there is respect, there is also higher productivity.
  6. Recognition. Nothing creates a positive work environment like a display of sincere appreciation for a job well done. Studies show a direct link between a positive working environment and greater productivity.

Productivity is essential to organizational (and individual) success. It is the core factor that dictates not only an organization’s standard of living, but each individual’s standard of living, as well. And organizations that master the art of productivity are ahead of their competition and can, therefore, boast a healthy standard of living.

As evident in the above list of productive leadership traits, being productive does not require complexity. A culture of straightforward, common sense behaviours that are within the grasp of every leader is the key to enhancing organizational productivity.

The leader’s role in productivity

An organization’s performance is directly linked to its leader’s effectiveness. In fact, extraordinary leaders can make extraordinary employees out of average employees while poor leaders can turn extraordinary employees into poor performers. And it has nothing to do with the organization’s systems, processes, policies, or procedures.

Employees are impacted by their leader’s behavior. In a McKinsey Global Survey published in October 2009, nine critical leadership skills were identified. Inspiring employees ranked number one (Leadership through the crisis and after: McKinsey Global Survey Results, October 2009).

Inspiring employees is crucial if they are to serve customers in the best possible way, all the time. Since they are the organization’s front line to customer service, employees are the organization’s key to success. Empowered employees will perform their best to achieve their organization’s goals. The leader’s role in positively influencing this behavior cannot be overstated.

To sustain inspiration and empowerment, employees need recognition and reward. Both monetary and non-monetary reward can be used. Some employees may need a bonus to settle personal debts, while others may appreciate a more flexible working schedule. Ask your employees how they want to be rewarded and act accordingly.

While difficult to measure, strong leaders can impact the work environment by contributing to improved employee morale through a “snowball effect” of positive outcomes. It takes just one employee to hinder change, but it also takes just one employee to create positive effects. It starts with leaders.

There are five areas that every leader should consider to better influence productivity in their organizations. These areas are:

  1. Defining goals and objectives. Clarity around organizational goals and objectives and how projects fit within them needs to be provided. When employees understand the projects on which they are working, they are better able to identify and close gaps between the projects and the organizational goals.
  2. Assigning ownership. For any work undertaken in the organization, there should only be one owner of the work. When one owner-employee takes responsibility for the project, there is a greater chance of project success. If there are multiple owners or if ownership is not clear, efficiency and productivity suffers.
  3. Managing employee expectations. This includes ensuring employee job satisfaction and providing incentives and rewards. If employees are empowered and receive appropriate support (e.g., training, resources, etc.) to complete their work, their job satisfaction increases. In addition, recognizing and rewarding employees helps increase their self-esteem and further strengthens their resolve to continue working hard on behalf of the organization.
  4. Communicating. This is a two-way experience. Leaders need to be clear in their communications with employees, but they also need to listen to their employees and act on what their employees are telling them. By engaging in open communication, leaders build trust with their teams, further empowering productivity.
  5. Innovating. Without innovation, organizations will not grow. Leaders need to embrace innovation and encourage innovation and creativity in the workplace. Same old, same old has no place in organizations that want to be successful. Creating or inventing/re-inventing new markets, products and services—this is how successful organizations thrive.

Leadership competency models provide boundless traits and behaviors that differentiate between good and great leaders; they are all useful. But when higher levels of productivity are desired, straightforward behaviors—defining goals and objectives, assigning ownership, managing employee expectations, communicating, and innovating—can be achieved by every leader.

A core business goal, productivity is under the direction of leaders. Leaders who are able to motivate and inspire their employees will be the leaders of successful organizations. Those who do not may soon find themselves out of work.

 

Effective Leaders Enable Productive Organizations

As an effective leader, you know that certain competencies are necessary to your success on the job. Things like building yourself as a whole person (emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, creatively), building winning teams, being respectful of others to earn their respect, communicating effectively, inspiring others to build trust … just to name a few. You may also know that proven leadership methods aren’t always the answer in every situation.

Enabling others to be as efficient, effective, and productive as possible is a key tenet of leadership. What is your staff working on? What systems, processes, and tools are they using to accomplish organizational goals? Are these systems, processes, and tools as efficient and effective as possible? These are questions that every leader should be asking, since the leaders’ accountability is (first of all) to their staff to enable organizational productivity.

In addition to looking at overall organizational productivity, leaders need to talk to their staff and customers to understand the big picture. Talking to other leaders or mentors is not going to get you information about what your customers are thinking. And, sometimes, neither will talking with your staff.

Instead of talking with your staff, why not experience what your staff experiences? The show “Undercover Boss” sets a great example for leaders. Putting yourself in your staff’s shoes will teach you more about your organization’s operations than you could ever learn from the company’s policies and procedures manuals or strategic planning sessions.

And what about mentors? Every leader needs two mentors–one mentor half their age and the other twice their age. Currently, a huge number of baby boomers are retiring or semi-retiring. Those that semi-retire continue to stay in the job market in a part-time or entrepreneurial capacity. At the same time, Generation Y (those born between the late 1970s to the early 2000s) is entering the job market for the first-time. The collision of these two generations in the workplace is already seeing a shift in the way information sharing is executed. A decade ago, leaders didn’t need to think about tweets or texts;  now they do. Seek mentors to help you bridge the gap between these two generations.

The bottom line is that leaders must continually evolve and practice their knowledge, values, skills, and behaviours. Taking elements of the tried and true methods such as those discussed above, and modifying them to fit current situations enables good leaders to become effective leaders in productive organizations.

 

From Great to Remarkable

Are you a remarkable leader? If you said “yes,” you’re in the minority. If you said “no,” take heart: remarkable leaders are made, not born. Through experience, good and great leaders acquire leadership competencies that propel them to the ranks of remarkable ones. So how do you become a remarkable leader? One word: coaching.

Coaching provides benefits for both individuals and the companies for which they work. Here are some examples from a survey of 100 executives by Manchester Inc., primarily from Fortune 100 companies. The first finding from this survey related to organizations noticing direct improvements as a result of executives receiving coaching. Some of the benefits included:

  • 53% of the companies reported an increase in productivity
  • 48% reported improved quality
  • 39% reported improved customer service
  • 34% said they had a reduction in customer complaints
  • 23% said they had an overall organizational cost reduction
  • 22% said they gained improvement in their bottom line profitability.

In addition, the executives that received coaching also reported direct benefits for themselves and their working relationships with others including:

  • 77% said they saw improvement in working relationships with direct reports
  • 71% saw improvement in working relationships with immediate supervisors
  • 67% said that teamwork improved
  • 63% saw improvement in working relationships with peers
  • 37% saw improvement in working relationships with customers.

On top of this, 61% of executives reported improved job satisfaction, 52% noticed conflict reduction and 44% indicated a renewed organizational commitment, all as result of coaching.

Coaching is an excellent way to propel leadership. My experience with good leaders is that they possess an innate drive and intellect that enables them to have greater self-awareness, to engage others, to achieve results, to build valuable partnerships, and to build an innovative organization. Through coaching, leaders learn to build competencies that make them remarkable.

There are many traits that both good and great leaders possess, but here are ten competencies that I have noticed make the difference between great and remarkable leaders.

  1. Great leaders are self-aware. Remarkable leaders set the example.
  2. Great leaders are comfortable with ambiguity. Remarkable leaders search for challenges and opportunities proactively.
  3. Great leaders build trust by being honest and respectful. Remarkable leaders foster collaboration.
  4. Great leaders provide staff with necessary support so they can contribute to the organization’s goals. Remarkable leaders enlist staff and others to achieve organizational goals.
  5. Great leaders work with the organization to create a vision. Remarkable leaders envision the future.
  6. Great leaders keep an ‘open mind’ to new ideas and approaches and how these could be incorporated into existing practices. Remarkable leaders experiment and take risks.
  7. Great leaders keep staff focused on the organization’s desired objectives. Remarkable leaders recognize staff contributions and create a spirit of community.
  8. Great leaders develop competence. Remarkable leaders inspire others.
  9. Great leaders expect the best. Remarkable leaders do the best.
  10. Great leaders foster good relationships. Remarkable leaders have good relationships.

If you aspire to be a remarkable leader, your starting point is with a confidential coach. Are you ready to take the next step to becoming a remarkable leader? A remarkable coach is just a phone call away.