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9 Habits of Highly Productive Leaders

9 Habits of Highly Productive Leaders

Nine habits of highly productive people

    There are many definitions of leadership, many quotes from highly revered people that sum up the essence of leadership. Perhaps the most well know is Gandhi’s

    “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

    Lead without title

    But as Leadership expert Robin Sharma has pointed out, you don’t have to have a title to be a leader. He tells us that we all must step up to the mark and be a leader in our own field, even if we work in a team or are self employed.

    When it comes to self leadership it’s about taking control and responsibility for your own circumstances. It’s about stepping forward, instead of stepping back. It’s about raising your hand and not staying in the background. If everyone were to step up and take responsibility the world would be a better place.

    Leadership and productivity

    For me Leadership and Productivity are very closely linked. Productivity is synonymous with getting things done but what few people consciously realize is that it is also synonymous with creativity; and these two elements are essential for effective Leadership. We all know that to achieve anything in life we need to get things done but if we are merely to complete tasks as they come our way this will amount to nothing. We need time for creative and strategic thinking. The most effective leaders are those who have the vision to make the world a better place and have the means through being highly productive to get the job done.

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    Here are 10 suggested habits that can help you become a more productive leader whether you have a title or not.

    1. Have a clear Vision

    Having a crystal clear vision of what you want to achieve which is communicated clearly to all involved will ensure the commitment and motivation are present to achieve the goal.

    2. Have a Workflow System

    A workflow system will allow you to work effectively and creatively by freeing up time to do the work the matters. Understanding the most effective flow of work will ensure that work is not duplicated or distractions don’t interfere with the work that matters.

    3. Take Responsibility

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    Take responsibility for all of your actions and behaviours. Eliminate any victim behavior, Remember that you are the master of your fate.

    4. Work Your Body

    All of the worlds high achievers work out regularly, Obama, Bush, Branson, all know the benefits of regular exercise for stamina, for performance and for productivity. It is one of the best habits you can adopt to become more productive. The extra energy that you gain from working out along with the de-stressing effect will enhance your productivity and performance more than any other habit.

    5 Relax Your Body

    Along with exercise the body needs rest, relaxation and plenty of sleep to perform at its best. Meditation and Yoga can also help to relax and de-stress the body.

    6. Value your Time

    Delegate, outsource and share your work.

    “Only do what only you can do.”

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    Your time is too precious to waste so only use it to do the work that no one else can do for you.

    7. Become a good Listener

    If you lead other people it is essential to listen well but you will also find that if you listen well it can make you more productive by eliminating duplication of work or misunderstandings that can lead to unessential work being completed.

    8. Be the best you can be

    Always do your best and you will have no regrets. Success doesn’t come to those who sit and wait, it is necessary to work towards your vision. Engage with your vision, keep taking action.

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    “Nothing will work unless you do.”

    Maya Angelou

    9. Make time for Thinking

    In order to excel at what you do, You must make time for thinking. Creative thinking and strategic thinking. This is one of the biggest mistakes people in business make. They are too busy with day to day tasks that they forget to plan, to innovate, to dream. And without these factors there will never be growth or involvement, simply stagnation.

    So step up and take the lead and start to make your life make a difference.

    (Photo credit: Number Rainbow Lights Glitter with Sparkles via Shutterstock)

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    More by this author

    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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