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13 Things Truly Great Leaders Do In Difficult Times

13 Things Truly Great Leaders Do In Difficult Times

From Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan, great leaders have walked and ruled this planet throughout human history. These days, boardrooms have replaced most battlefields, and great leaders are more likely to flex corporate muscle than wield an actual sword. The Internet gives us all a chance to be great leaders; these are the skills they embody.

1. Great leaders manage fear

As Franklin D. Roosevelt put it in his inaugural speech, we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Superman has superpowers, but he’s no hero. Superman is invincible and therefore has nothing to fear. A real hero acts in the presence of fear.

2. Great leaders put the mission first

You have a job to do, and, whether you like it or not, you have to put that job first. Great leaders recognize that completing the objective is the most important part of the mission and let nothing stop them from accomplishing it. Everything else is just extra perks.

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3. Great leaders are well-prepared

No matter what situation they find themselves in, great leaders are always prepared. They may not immediately have the tools available or the right answer, but they know where to find it. Thinking on their feet is important, but a great plan can’t be beat.

4. Great leaders are tough, but fair

Great leaders inspire greatness in their followers as well. They do this by holding them to the same high standards they hold themselves to. They understand everyone is human, though, and don’t expect the impossible.

5. Great leaders encourage others

Nobody wants to work for that boss who bosses everyone around and has no idea what he or she is talking about. Instead of constantly criticizing people, great leaders believe in positive reinforcement and are loved by their followers.

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6. Great leaders effectively communicate

The reason you have an Apple product is because Steve Jobs knew how to communicate to you exactly why you need one. The ability to communicate is essential in convincing people to do what you want, and that’s how a leader gains followers.

7. Great leaders use resources wisely

Are you broke? If you are, it’s because you live a lifestyle that leads to being broke – you waste your current resources and are too busy fighting to replenish them to ever get ahead. Great leaders use exactly the resources they need.

8. Great leaders imitate other leaders

Thomas Edison idolized Leonardo da Vinci, and nearly every military leader in the world to this day follows the strategies of Alexander the Great. To be the best, you have to beat the best. If they’re already dead, emulate them.

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9. Great leaders are great followers

Behind every great leader is an even greater leader. As Derek Sivers, CEO of CD Baby, explains, the first follower is the most important part of a movement. A leader without a follower is just a lone nut.

10. Great leaders remain open to change

Even the best plans have issues as soon as they’re applied to the real world. A truly great leader accepts this and is able to change at a moment’s notice. While all the losers complain about a new change and wait for instructions, a great leader takes the lead.

11. Great leaders never give up

Every winner loses, but not every loser wins. Great leaders accept losses and learn from them. Then they get back up, dust themselves off, and try again.

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12. Great leaders accept responsibility

When something goes wrong, a coward will blame others. It’s not uncommon for stuff to roll downhill in an organization, as every level passes the buck to the next level beneath them. To be a great leader, it’s essential to accept responsibility for mistakes and correct them.

13. Great leaders are quirky

All great leaders stick out in some way. If they acted like everyone else, they’d end up following like everyone else. Instead, they listen to themselves, trust their abilities, and rise to the top.

Anyone can be a leader, but what makes a leader truly great are their followers. If you live as though you’re already a leader, you’ll be well on your way to becoming one. You’ll be an outcast for a period, and people will mock you for being different, but stick to your guns. Soon enough you’ll have the power to hire or fire your detractors, and there’ll be nothing they can do about it, because you’re a great leader… and they’re just a shlub.

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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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