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Honesty: The Best Policy for The Best Productivity

Honesty: The Best Policy for The Best Productivity
    Honest Tea Cap (Photo credit: Dome Poon)

    There are many tools you can use to increase your level of productivity. Whether paper-based solutions are your cup of tea or you’ve dove into the digital well of task management offerings, you’d be wasting a ton of time trying to discover all of the tools out there. I’d wager it is one of the least productive things you could ever do.

    But of all the tools at your disposal, the one between your ears is the one that needs to be actively engaged to allow for prominent increases to happen. There’s a human component that leads to better productivity on the whole, and while analog tools may not remove the brain from the equasion as fully as digital ones might, when we trust our lists as written without using our brain in tandem, the results for the items that are crucial to us are less desirable.

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    The “heart” comes into play, too. Why? Because we’re human. So when the brain and emotion are used in concert with a productivity system, you can tap into the real power of what you can do. And much of that power lies in simply being honest with yourself. Honesty plays a huge role in the quality of what we do.

    Limitations

    Whether you look at how much you can accomplish (and accomplish well) in a given timeline, whether you look at how well you can accomplish a task or project considering your skill set or whether or not you truly care about what’s on your plate, being honest with yourself is the only true way to get the best work out of you. You may even be surprised how much you can exceed limitations when you start spending more time being honest with yourself. You’ll achieve better results because you’re taking on less of the stuff that doesn’t sit well with you.

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    Adapatability

    Honesty can fine-tune your ability to adapt. If you aren’t being fufilled in an environment, tapping into your true self will often provide you the answer as to how to find such fulfillment. Sometimes it means exploring ways to work within the environment, sometimes it means looking at it differently. Sometimes it means removing yourself from the environment altogether. By being honest with yourself you will discover that you’re far more “productively versatile” and you’ll reap the benefits of demonstrating that to those around you.

    Happiness

    You can’t fool yourself into being happy. So why try? If you’re not happy, you aren’t going to be as productive. Honesty plays a huge part in this – and you don’t have to look too deeply into yourself to realize when you’re not. Faking it will only take you so far, and often it also takes you farther away from getting to where you really want to be. Find happiness in what you do and where you are, or do and go somewhere else. It’s honestly the best thing for everyone.

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    Procrastination

    This one is tricky, because while you can justify putting things off, you can rarely do that in an honest manner. Strangely, that also means whatever you are doing to procrastinate is also not being done as well as it could be. Start being more honest with yourself, and both your uptime and downtime will be more productive, because both can be done without the distraction of justifying what you’re doing and when you’re doing it.

    Quality

    Honestly look at what you’re “shipping” these days. Is it great? Better yet, is it as great as you know you could make it? That’s the better question, because while you may say “yes” to the first questiom, the second one requires a lot more honesty on your part. So ask the second question before you ship it. That way people will be looking forward to receiving it.

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    The Best Policy

    Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard. And mostly what I need from you. – Billy Joel

    These words are directed at a lover in Joel’s classic tune, but in this case you need to direct them at yourself. Give the word some company, stand out above the crowd. Say it loud, say it to yourself, say it knowing that you need it from yourself. You’ll be amazed at the results.

    Honest.

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Last Updated on October 21, 2019

    How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

    How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

    U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

    Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

    Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

    But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

    To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

    What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

    You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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    You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

    If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

    1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

    Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

    Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

    While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

    2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

    It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

    “While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

    In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

    Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

    3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

    Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

    For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

    4. Good leaders are students.

    In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

    I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

    Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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    As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

    5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

    It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

    “As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

    This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

    6. Good leaders understand themselves.

    I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

    Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

    Final Thoughts

    Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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    Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

    After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

    Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

    If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

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    Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
    [2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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