Career Woman

The 3 keys to being a productive leader


The productive leader understands that there is more to productivity than meeting deadlines, coming in under budget and managing staff. The productive leader understands success comes when the three keys of productive leadership are connected and working in alignment.

The three keys are personal productivity, professional productivity and people productivity.

1. Personal productivity

Being a productive leader starts with you: your personal productivity. If you’ve ever caught an airplane, you know that the safety announcement always demands that in case of an emergency, you must put your oxygen mask on first. You already know why: you must look after yourself before you can look after anyone else. The same concept applies to the productive leader. Get your oxygen mask – your personal productivity – in order first.

I have an oxygen mask hanging over my desk to constantly remind me of this very concept.

When you have effective personal productivity, the positives flow over into task and people productivity.

If you want your team to be more productive, first you need to do a self-audit. Take a good, hard look at your own behaviours, habits and routines. How do they impact your own productivity? Objectively and accurately answer the question; “What am I doing to positively influence my sense of achievement, my ability to complete tasks effectively and the quality of the output I am achieving?”

2. Professional productivity

This productivity focuses on using the right tools and processes, backed by helpful habits, to get your work done: to be professional in your work! Not just any work, either: the right work in the right sequence. Professional productivity answers the question of how you can do your work in the most effective way possible.

3. People Productivity

A successful productive leader empowers and engages their people. When the people in the organisation are productive, the results – be they financial, employee engagement or other – shine through. Helping your people find smarter and calmer ways to be productive is essential. Underlying that is the way they interact with each other. The productive leader keeps a keen eye on interpersonal communication through and across their team, department or organisation. The productive leader uses his or her personal and organisational authority carefully and respectfully to boost people productivity.

At the intersections

To make productive leadership sustainable, easier and more rewarding, it’s important you pay attention to the intersections between the three personal, professional and people productivity. Your success in the three P’s is leveraged through clarity, boundaries and relationships.

Let’s take a look at the three intersections:

  1. At the intersection of personal productivity and professional productivity is clarity. This includes clear goal setting, understanding and establishing priorities, being able to review and revise priorities with a flexible mindset, and understanding the value and methods of the work being done so that productivity can be boosted.
  2. At the intersection of professional productivity and people productivity are boundaries. This is where saying “no” and being an effective delegator are important. Influence and confidence in your role, and the expectations you have of yourself and others, form the boundaries that help teams and leaders get the work done.
  3. At the intersection of people productivity and personal productivity are relationships. This is where the rubber hits the road. You need to have honest, respectful and open relationships because they positively influence the team, organisation- al productivity and results. No one is immune to the ramifications of a toxic organisational culture. e negative impact it has on productivity, results and outcomes can be immense. Relationships are the cornerstone of an organisation’s culture, and that culture can either kill or nurture productivity.

The intersections of relationships, clarity and boundaries are critical to success. They must be factored into any efforts to improve productivity.

About Sally Foley-Lewis

Sally Foley-Lewis is a Productive Leadership Expert: Speaker Author Mentor Sally fast-tracks productivity! She’ll empower you to be strong, authentic and confident in your role. Known as a skill-builder and insight-igniter, with a wicked sense of humour. She loves to speak to share her leadership stories so others learn and be more productive and effective leaders. Pairing 20+ years experience with exceptional qualifications, she’s inspired, trained and developed people from many industries: early childhood education across Australia; gyms in Germany; shipbuilding and oil and gas companies in the Middle East, to community organisations in outback Australia, just to name a few.

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