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Last Updated on February 25, 2018

Being a Leader Is Overrated: Find Your Unique Superpower

Being a Leader Is Overrated: Find Your Unique Superpower

Having interviewed hundreds of candidates, I heard similar patterns when it came to career goals. Many people talked about wanting to be leaders or managers when talking about future aspirations, yet when asked why, the answers were pretty disappointing.

Most people responded with a general view that they’d just like to be some kind of leader or even that they should become a leader because that is seen as the epitome of success in some way.

Leadership roles are mistakenly seen as superior to others

Leadership doesn’t automatically mean you’re successful. Leadership roles are mistakenly seen as superior to others, yet a leader is primarily someone who coordinates, directs projects and allocates resources. Yes, this is an important role but just being in this role doesn’t equate success, rather it’s what you achieve in this role.

Becoming a leader doesn’t necessarily make you successful

Think of Adolf Hitler. You may consider him a skilled politician who psychologically succeeded at spurring and manipulating the emotions of an entire country, but he wasn’t a great leader as he essentially led people to make the world a worse place.

Being a leader isn’t always the easiest path to success as we believe it is

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    With leadership comes pressure and sometimes unrealistic expectations from others. Therefore it isn’t always the easiest path to success as we believe it is. When we recall past and current world leaders, most are considered bad, incompetent or manipulative.

    Think of highly successful people like the author JK Rowling or basketball player Stephen Curry. Both are highly skilled in their profession (in fact, both have become the top 1% in their field) but they don’t necessarily know anything about leadership showing that leadership shouldn’t be automatically considered ‘success’.

    Without followers, this world would essentially be doomed

    In society, leaders are important. They are needed to create efficiency and organisation within a structure. But still, even without leaders, as humans, we are able to still survive without them albeit less efficiently.

    But without followers, this world would essentially be doomed. The success and sustentation of our world come from the hard work of experts who do the real work. These are the ones creating, expanding and improving our society. If everyone was a leader, we’d end up creating nothing.

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      Using our strengths to create success: the 16 Personalities model

      We all have our own unique talents and it’s using these to our advantage that will truly make us successful.

      Looking at the 16 personalities model [1], we can see that each personality type is represented by a certain role and set of strengths that can be applied in the right way to create success. In other words, anyone can flourish and be successful if they apply their traits well and, more often than not, this doesn’t include any type of leadership.

      Take the personality type INFP or ‘mediator’ – these people tend to be creative, compassionate and charitable. While these attributes don’t immediately spring to mind as obvious skills for success, both Shakespeare and J.R.R Tolkien fall into this personality type and we all know how successful they ultimately became.

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      Take the 16 Personalities Test to identify your own strengths

      For some of us, our strengths or weaknesses aren’t always obvious and when it comes to our careers, knowing what these are can help figure out what path would suit us best. Taking the 16 Personalities Test can help you do this by answering a set of questions that best sums up the type of person you are and where your strengths lie.

          The SWOT Analysis Technique

          Another technique you can use to determine what your strengths and weaknesses are, and use them to your advantage in your career, is the SWOT analysis.

          SWOT stands for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

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            A crossover strategy is used to analyze where your strengths and weaknesses can help maximize or minimize opportunities and threats. In other words, how your strengths can maximize opportunities and minimize threats, while finding out how your weaknesses can be minimized using opportunities and how you can minimize your weaknesses to avoid threats.

            This process helps you identify opportunities and threats early so you can thrive in your career.

            Analyzing yourself is the key to becoming successful. The general consensus tends to point towards leadership as the ultimate way of succeeding in any given career but this isn’t the case. Everyone has different personality traits that don’t necessarily make good leaders, yet utilizing your strengths correctly can bring you the success you deserve.

              Photo credit: Source

              Reference

              [1]16 personalities: Personality Types

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              Leon Ho

              Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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              Forget Learning How to Multitask: Boost Productivity 10X More with Focus

              Forget Learning How to Multitask: Boost Productivity 10X More with Focus

              There’s a dark side to the conveniences of the Digital Age. With smartphones that function like handheld computers, it has become increasingly difficult to leave our work behind. Sometimes it seems like we’re expected to be accessible 24/7.

              How often are you ever focused on just one thing? Most of us try to meet these demands by multi-tasking.

              Many of us have bought into the myth that we can achieve more through multi-tasking. In this article, I’ll show you how you can accomplish more work in less time. Spoiler alert: multi-tasking is not the answer.

              Why is multitasking a myth?

              The term “multi-tasking” was originally used to describe how microprocessors in computers work. Machines multitask, but people cannot.

              Despite our inability to simultaneously perform two tasks at once, many people believe they are excellent multi-taskers.

              You can probably imagine plenty of times when you do several things at once. Maybe you talk on the phone while you’re cooking or respond to emails during your commute.

              Consider the amount of attention that each of these tasks requires. Chances are, at least one of the two tasks in question is simple enough to be carried out on autopilot.

              We’re okay at simultaneously performing simple tasks, but what if you were trying to perform two complex tasks? Can you really work on your presentation and watch a movie at the same time? It can be fun to try to watch TV while you work, but you may be unintentionally making your work more difficult and time-consuming.

              Your brain on multi-tasking

              Your brain wasn’t designed to multi-tasking. To compensate, it will switch from task to task. Your focus turns to whatever task seems more urgent. The other task falls into the background until you realize you’ve been neglecting it.

              When you’re bouncing back and forth like this, an area of the brain known as Broadmann’s Area 10 activates. Located in your fronto-polar prefrontal cortex at the very front of the brain, this area controls your ability to shift focus. People who think they are excellent multitaskers are really just putting Broadmann’s Area 10 to work.

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              But I can juggle multiple tasks!

              You are capable of taking in information with your eyes while doing other things efficiently. Scientifically speaking, making use of your vision is the only thing you can truly do while doing something else.

              For everything else, you’re serial tasking. This constant refocusing can be exhausting, and it prevents us from giving our work the deep attention it deserves.

              Think about how much longer it takes to do something when you have to keep reminding yourself to focus.

              Why multitasking is failing you

              Multitasking does more bad than good to your productivity, here’re 4 reasons why you should stop multitasking:

              Multitasking wastes your time.

              You lose time when you interrupt yourself. People lose an average of 2.1 hours per day getting themselves back on track when they switch between tasks.

              In fact, some studies suggest that doing multiple things at once decreases your productivity by as much as 40%. That’s a significant loss in efficiency. You wouldn’t want your surgeon to be 40% less productive while you’re on the operating table, would you?

              It makes you dumber.

              A distracted brain performs a full 10 IQ points lower than a focused brain. You’ll also be more forgetful, slower at completing tasks, and more likely to make mistakes.

              You’ll have to work harder to fix your mistakes. If you miss an important detail, you could risk injury or fail to complete the task properly.

              This is an emotional response.

              There’s so much data suggesting that multitasking is ineffective but people insist that they can multitask.

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              Feeling productive fulfills an emotional need. We want to feel like we’re accomplishing something. Why accomplish just one item on the to-do list when you can check off two or three?

              It’ll wear you out.

              When you’re jumping from task to task, it can feel invigorating for a little while. Over time, this needs to fill every second with more and more work leads to burn out.

              We’re simply not built to multitask, so when we try, the effect can be exhausting. This destroys your productivity and your motivation.

              How to stop multitasking and work productively

              Flitting back and forth between tasks feels second-nature after a while. This is in part because Broadmann’s Area 10 becomes better at serial tasking through time.

              In addition to changing how the brain works, this serial tasking behavior can quickly turn into a habit.

              Just like any bad habit, you’ll need to recognize that you need to make a change first. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to adjust to a lifestyle of productive mono-tasking:

              1. Consciously change gears

              Instead of trying to work on two distinct tasks at once, consider setting up a system to remind you when to change focus. This technique worked for Jerry Linenger, an American astronaut onboard the space station, Mir.

              As an astronaut, he had many things to take care of every day. He set alarms for himself on a few watches. When a particular watch sounded, he knew it was time to switch tasks. This enabled him to be 100% in tune with what he was doing at any given moment.

              This strategy is effective because the alarm served as his reminder for what was to come next. Linenger’s intuition about setting reminders falls in line with research conducted by Paul Burgess of University College, London on multitasking.

              2. Manage multiple tasks without multitasking

              Raj Dash of Performancing.com has an effective strategy for balancing multiple projects without multitasking. He suggests taking 15 minutes to acquaint yourself with a new project before moving on to other work. Revisit the project later and do about thirty minutes on research and brainstorming.

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              Allow a few days to pass before knocking out the project in question. While you were actively work on other projects, your brain continues to problem solve-in the background.

              This method works because it gives us the opportunity to work on several projects without allowing them to compete for your attention.

              3. Set aside distractions

              Your smartphone, your inbox and the open tabs on your computer are all open invitations for distraction. Give yourself time each day when you silence your notifications, close your inbox and remove unnecessary tabs from your desktop.

              If you want to focus, you can’t give anything else an opportunity to invade your mental space.

              Emails can be particularly invasive because they often have an unnecessary sense of urgency associated with them. Some work cultures stress the importance of prompt responses to these messages, but we can’t treat every situation like an emergency.

              Designate certain times in your day for checking and responding to emails to avoid compulsive checking.

              4. Take care of yourself

              We often blame electronics for pulling us from our work, but sometimes our physical body forces us into a state of serial tasking. If you’re hungry while you’re trying to work, your attention will flip between your hunger and your work until you take care of your physical needs.

              Try to take all your bio-breaks before you sit down for an uninterrupted stint of work.

              In addition, you’ll also want to be sure you’re attending to your health in a broader sense. Getting enough exercise, practicing mindfulness and incorporating regular breaks into your day will keep you from being tempted by distractions.

              5. Take a break

              People are more likely to head to YouTube or check their social media when they need a break. Instead of trying to work and watch a mindless video at the same time, give yourself times when you’re allowed to enjoy your distracting activity of choice.

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              Limit how much time you’ll spend on this break so that your guilt-free distraction time doesn’t turn into hours of wasted time.

              6. Make technology your ally

              Scientists are beginning to discover the detrimental effects of chronic serial tasking on our brains. Some companies are developing programs to curb this desire to multitask.

              Apps like Forest turn staying focused into a game. Extensions like RescueTime help you track your online habits so that you can be more aware of how you spend your time.

              The key to productivity: Focus

              Multitasking is not the key to productivity. It’s far better to schedule time to focus on each task than it is to try to do everything at once.

              Make use of the methods outlined above and prepare to be more effective and less exhausted in the process.

              If you want to learn more about how to focus, don’t miss my other article:

              How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

              Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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