Productivity: A measure of leadership

All the talk about how to improve productivity only serves to highlight our deficiency in understanding what productivity is really about. It is nothing more than a reflection of a leader’s performance or the lack thereof. A beneficial yardstick of a workforce’s engagement and how they are feeling – a piece of cultural feedback if you will.

No organisational process instils a desire for progress. No work module invokes a sense of urgency. No training program incites a passion for detail or commitment to go the extra mile, to increase productivity over and above that which they are being paid for. This can only occur within each individual, and it depends on their personal growth and sense of worth.

Leadership should not be about power, but influence. It’s about summoning the courage to effect change for the betterment of all, through compassion and strength of character, and taking a stand in what you believe is right, despite popular sentiment and regardless of the backlash.

Leaders empower. They challenge the norm by questioning the mediocre and nurturing a culture of inclusion. So too, they show a healthy respect for enterprise and acknowledge the multifarious mix of hard work and ingenuity.

These 3 Cs differentiate leadership from management.

  • Character: moral and ethical qualities of integrity
  • Charisma: the ability to attract, charm and sway
  • Candour: impartial, frank and open-mindedness

To this day, there remains, in some corners, an oppressive notion of people as a commodity. People are something to a source of supply, payment, or aid, to draw upon when needed. This view lends itself to exploitation and self-gratification, rather than a recognition that people are unique in mind and body, who offer their time for reward and appreciation. There lies a detrimental preoccupation in cramming individuals into neat little boxes so as not to disturb the status quo.

A broad cross-section of workers is needed to safeguard an invigorating balance. Otherwise, leaders risk the unthinkable – a mundane climate devoid of variegation.

But in our need for conformity, do we create an environment where it is normal to judge whether we or others belong? Do we hide emotion and perceived eccentricity in trepidation of being singled out or rejected? Is there an expectation of normalcy? Who prescribes what normal is and what influences it over time?

The truth is that there are no norms. We are all exceptions to a rule that does not exist. “Normal” arises from prejudice to secure a place for yourself in an anticipated refuge.

The biggest drawback of technology is a weakness to perform outside preconditions no matter how elaborate and complex. Hence, the inability to replicate the brain and replace human fortitude. There is a falsehood in the assumption that the world craves robotic prevalence by the technological elite who will one day have to face the repercussions of a shunned populace.

Electronics may (with luck) deliver in accord with what is invested. People, on the other hand, will exceed those expectations including a more favourable return on investment. Non-performance stems from culture and leadership, with an appreciation, that they cannot cajole, insist upon or demanded productivity.

Retail is about people, by people and for people, and efficiency is the dividend.

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