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Last Updated on February 27, 2018

The CEO’s Guide to True Leadership

The CEO’s Guide to True Leadership

Leadership will never just ‘happen’. It is a state of mind and a way of acting in the world. Simply working hard and growing older will not guarantee that the opportunities and skills will just come to you. In other words, you need to actively grow into a leader instead of passively hoping that life will be kind to you.

Definition of Leadership

Some of us will be in the right place at the right time – your chance may come as you shuffle up the hierarchy and into a leadership role. But getting promoted doesn’t make you an instant leader. This is just the beginning of your journey – a chance to realize your potential.

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This even applies if you are the CEO of a company – you may be a ‘boss’ but you may not be a ‘leader’.

Begin Your Leadership Journey

Being a leader is about inspiring others to join you in pursuit of the same goals. Remember that leadership skills can be practised anywhere at any time, regardless of your official status. Be a leader at home, at school, at work – it’s a way of life.

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As the CEO of Lifehack, I’ve been taking the leadership journey – and I’ve gathered together into one handy guide some of the most useful tips for all aspiring leaders.

1. Positivity Is at the Core of Leadership

2. Confidence Comes from Within

Only a fraction of people are blessed with natural confidence – luckily, for the rest of us, it can also be built. Don’t draw confidence from the external world because it’s unreliable and ever-changing. Instead.

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3. Learning Is Everything

4. Mistakes Are Nothing

  • Make The Most Mistakes: Leaders do not shy away from taking actions that may be in error. They take risks and make controllable mistakes – from this they learn and grow.
  • Master Making Mistakes: Leaders can handle mistakes because they excel at resilience.

5. Criticism is Opportunity

6. Capitalizing Strengths

  • Pick the Right Battlefield for the Biggest Leverage: Leaders recognize that time is a limited resource. So the best things to focus our energies on are things that give the biggest leverage. Developing strengths is more effective than fixing weaknesses. A leader will always address any weakness that’s holding them back – but not without capitalizing on their strengths first.

7. Selling Visions

  • Sales Skills Turn You From Good To Great: Leaders sell visions and goals to those they lead and to their target clients. So brush up on some key sales skills here to convince others that your dreams are worth pursuing.
  • A Presentation That Will Impress Everyone: Leaders are storytellers – they know that a compelling narrative can inspire others to accept their ideas. So learn how your presentation skills make all the difference when you want others to get on board with your dream.

8. Every Second Counts

9. A Disciplined Life to Stay on Top Form

  • Morning Routine to Stay Sharp Every Day: Leaders live a disciplined life in order to always be at peak performance. This discipline begins right from the moment they wake up. A morning routine allows them to keep their brain sharp every day.
  • Rituals that Guarantee A Good Night Sleep: Leaders are no strangers to the reality of stress. But they know that balancing an active and energetic life with enough sleep is essential).

True Leadership Takes Time

Becoming a leader is not easy. That’s the beauty of it – everyone could learn to be a leader, but not everyone believes it or actually takes action. If you put in the time and effort, you can reach the top first – and then help others rise up too.

Go out there and be the leader you’ve always meant to be!

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More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

“You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

What is the productivity paradox?

There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

He wrote in his conclusion:

“Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

How do we measure productivity anyway?

And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

Possible causes of the productivity paradox

Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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  • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
  • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
  • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
  • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

The paradox and the recession

The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

“Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

Looking forward

A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

“Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

“Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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