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8 Principles of Dynamic Leadership

8 Principles of Dynamic Leadership

Together, we are on a leadership journey. A journey to become more competent individuals, efficient managers and dynamic leaders.

This quest involves sharing our unique experiences, learned principles and fundamental leadership lessons. This deliberate personal development is the reason I am writing this article and the reason you are sharing your time with me. This is what will make us more dynamic leaders and increase our chances of success in new roles and challenges. Here are my eight principles of dynamic leadership:

1. Focus on positive change.

Simple change is not positive and is the reason phrases like ‘continuous improvement’ become both white-collar buzzwords and blue-collar jokes. For a change to be positive, it must decrease the time required, increase efficiency, improve structure or increase simplicity. That’s it, simply put. No belt colors, no change coaches, no consulting fees. Every desired or required improvement must meet at least one of these criteria. If it doesn’t, don’t do it.

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2. Question everything: yesterday is interesting but irrelevant.

The military has an aspect most businesses do not: frequent 100% manpower turnover. Although many see this as a negative, a dynamic leader capitalizes on it. The welcome-aboard meeting with each new member of your organization should include this simple task: question everything. These two words must be a condition of employment. Empower them to always question the way business is done to find a better way to function. The newness of a job will wear off in six to nine months. Before this happens, ask why the organization does each task the current way.

Determine if their fresh, unvarnished opinion can yield positive change. The problem with this tactic is new employees are afraid of rocking the boat in the eyes of current ‘experts.’ For this strategy to be successful, leaders must instill in the culture of the organization a mentality that positive change is vital to the improvement of the team and continued success. Always remember yesterday may have brought you to today, but it most likely will not carry you through tomorrow. Embrace new ideas, new methods, and always question the assumptions that define your business model.

3. Don’t be a ninth letter leader.

Caution must be used with ‘I, me, mine’ terminology by leaders. These words are the natural selection of many individuals and can unintentionally offend others. When building a culture of teamwork, these three singular personal pronouns interject individualism and possessiveness. Instead, dynamic leaders maximize the use of ‘we, us, our’ phrases. They allow the development of a mutual solution where all parties believe in shared success.

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To fully understand the power of this concept, count the times people use I, me and my in their daily exchanges. Now, think how the topic might be received differently if every one of those individually possessive words were replaced with the team building terms we, us and our. This simple pronoun change creates a side-by-side stance, drawing attention to common interests and shared effort. This subtle point, a simple strategy, will greatly influence team building and help build your case as a win-win instead of win-lose. Don’t be overly possessive; if ‘I’ take credit for a success, it does not build ‘Us’ as a team. Do you overuse the ninth letter of our alphabet…the letter ‘I’?

4. Know the true measure of leadership is not found in an individual, but the individuals developed.

Never value your success as a leader over that of the individuals you lead. Your primary job as a leader is to develop your replacement, to put yourself out of a job.

5. Be efficient effectively.

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurajo/4568372067

    Notice the choice of words of the goal – efficiently effective. Priority One of leadership and the goal of any organization is to be effective. This means the focus of development, of all efforts, must first be on meeting the predefined goal. Once that is guaranteed, then, and only then, we must turn our attention to efficiently accomplishing the task.

    6. Time is of the essence.

    Time is the most critical resource of every organization, each individual and all leaders. Next time a meeting starts 15 minutes late, look around the room and count your team members. Think of what could have been done in that wasted time. Think of the average hourly wage for the room. Do the math of how much your tardiness cost the company in real dollars, then add the frustration endured by your team (which is priceless).

    Personally, I am writing this post in my notebook. It looks like I am taking incredible notes as I frequently look up to give my best, active-listening, head-nod acknowledgment and make direct eye contact with the speaker. We are entering hour four of a two-hour meeting with 29 of my peers and supervisors. Fortunately, I am capitalizing on this time by putting my thoughts and frustrations on paper. Unfortunately, this has crippled our staff and made today a total loss. It will take us at least three days to get our head back above water and take a breath because 26 onlookers were forced to watch a conversation by four individuals. By my rough calculation, this meeting cost us $9072 without even factoring in the opportunity cost! A dynamic leader always weighs risk/reward or cost/benefit for every action/inaction. A dynamic leader values everyone’s time the way they want theirs treated.

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    7. Indecision is still a decision.

    A leader is continually asked to make decisions with incomplete and variable data sets. The choices many times are not right or wrong, but differing degrees of good enough with conflicting second and third order effects. This draws many leaders into analysis paralysis where a decision is delayed into nonexistence because of the continual search for a perfect solution. A dynamic leader knows their worth is determined by their ability to properly analyze situations and take deliberate, calculated risks to move the team forward.

    8. Leadership is a process not a position.

    A dynamic leader yearns for knowledge, for experience, to improve their leadership skill set. They realize leadership is not defined by the title on the door, but daily actions. A dynamic leader grows daily and learns as much as possible from every conversation, meeting, interaction and experience.

    A dynamic leader knows anything is possible. Please help me add to this list in the comments below.

    Featured photo credit: Olivier Carré-Delisle via flickr.com

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    Chris Stricklin

    Leadership Consultant

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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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