Productivity Plays into Leadership

One of the first managers I ever worked with was the most incredibly unorganized man I know. You couldn’t leave a message on his voicemail because it was perpetually full, he was late to every appointment he ever set and even if you cleaned of his desk in the morning, it would be an absolute pigsty in the afternoon.

I had an incredibly hard time respecting him as a manager or a leader. I had a very hard time getting anything done while working for him, both because of the disorganization of the office that grew out of his management and because I didn’t see any value in finishing projects that would be lost in the shuffle quite quickly.

A Good Leader Knows Where He Left Things

That job taught me a lot about leadership, even if it was in demonstrating the negatives of problematic leadership. I see a lot of cross over between issues that impact productivity and issues that impact leadership.

I see a truly excellent leader as someone who can inspire, but also someone who can communicate. Making your followers want to do something isn’t worth a damn if you can’t tell them what you want them to do or how they should do it.

Productivity isn’t so different. You have to be able to clearly communicate — both to yourself and to the people you work with — what you need to do and how you’re going to do it. In both cases, you have to be aware of the situation. Forgetting to check your voicemails may seem minor, but you reinforce a lack of respect every time you do it. Same goes for every last attribute of that old boss I described above.

Becoming a Better Leader

I have a firm conviction that, if I want to lead people — whether that’s as a manager or something much bigger — I have to get myself together first. I’m well aware that there are plenty of incredible leaders with bad home lives (if you want a very tragic example, read up on Nelson Mandela’s estrangements from both his first and second wives). But if you can’t keep things running in your life after some fashion, I just don’t see how you can keep things running outside of the personal realm. Personally, I’d much prefer a good home life and I do think it’s possible.

That may mean making tough choices. But since when does productivity not equate with prioritizing and since when has every leader been perfect? We can only strive for the best possible situation, especially when we have people depending on us for leadership.

Image by Flickr user familymwr

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