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7 Things Truly Outstanding Leaders Do Differently

7 Things Truly Outstanding Leaders Do Differently

There are leaders and there are leaders. We have good leaders, bad leaders, great leaders, and we also have ordinary and extraordinary leaders. Do you want to be an outstanding leader? If your answer is yes, then you need to know the attributes of extraordinary leaders. I want to share 10 of these attributes with you so you can begin to work on your leadership abilities till you become an outstanding leader too.

They Praise

Outstanding leaders love to praise. They praise their team, they praise their family, they praise the government, they praise their children, and they praise everything and everyone around them. They know the power of praise, that it makes people go the extra mile to get results. Ordinary leaders on the other hand prefer to criticize. They feel that praising a subordinate is a sign of weakness. They never get satisfied, and even when they are, they don’t show it.

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They take responsibility

The leader is responsible for the success or failure of her team, it’s very saddening that most of the people occupying leadership positions today tend to put the blame on their team members each time something goes wrong. I once coached a female volleyball team for a particular volleyball tournament, we had trained harder than any other team and we were really prepared for the tournament. Unfortunately, we lost our first match and were knocked out of the tournament. Fundamentally, it wasn’t my fault that the team lost, we had a weak player (whose performance was outstanding in training) in the team on that day. She didn’t do well because she was afraid and the opponent capitalized on it. I took the blame for the defeat firstly, for not substituting her earlier in the game (I expected her to pick up her pace) and secondly for not overlooking that weakness of fear (which I had noticed during our training sessions). So you see, it’s always the leader’s fault one way or another.

Challenge Ideas

Truly outstanding leaders don’t believe in norms. They are creative people who are always looking for better, faster and more productive ways of getting things done. They challenge every idea and ask questions like: “Why this?” “What if we did it this way?” “Is this the best way to make this?” “What if we add this feature?” “Will this be relevant in the next ten years?” and so on.

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Lead by Example

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”~ John C. Maxwell. Outstanding leaders don’t give their followers impossible tasks. If an extraordinary leader tells a subordinate to walk on water, it means he must have walked on water himself. Outstanding leaders ‘walk the talk’, they don’t say what they can’t do and they don’t do what they can’t say. They are people of integrity and great character.

Give Feedback

Outstanding leaders give feedback to their followers, ordinary leaders don’t. I was speaking with a friend some time ago, he told me how his boss used to call him and point out all the errors in his work with the use of a red pen, then the boss will say, “I expect something better from you”. He was always lost because his boss didn’t have a standard, she never said what she wanted, and she never expressed satisfaction in whatever he did, so he didn’t know when he was right or wrong. She never really gave feedback, all she did was criticize and point out all errors. That is not how to be an outstanding leader.

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Seek Help

Ordinary leaders don’t like to ask for a helping hand especially from a follower. They don’t want to look weak or incompetent. They are full of pride and believe that they are always right or that they should always be right. They discard everyone’s opinion and hold on firmly to their beliefs even if it will cost them their lives. Outstanding leaders are humble and patient. They ask for their followers’ opinions on almost every matter even when they might already have the answer. They understand that learning is continuous and respect their followers’ knowledge and areas of expertise. They make better, more logical decisions than the ordinary leaders who depend solely on their own knowledge.

Lead Leaders

Outstanding leaders lead leaders. They don’t leave the people they lead without leaving them better than they found them. They share knowledge freely and cheerfully and they don’t hoard experience. They love to teach, impart and impact. They want their followers to know everything they know. They are always thinking of the future and what it will be like without them. They ask: “if I’m not here, will this work continue?”

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Outstanding leaders live better lives, create better opportunities, impact more people, believe the best about everyone and everything, shape the future and ultimately make the world a better place. WHAT KIND OF LEADER ARE YOU?

Featured photo credit: Cubs coach delivers/Roy Luck via flickr.com

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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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