Career Woman

Why be a productive leader?


To say productivity is a popular topic is a drastic understatement. Try doing a Google search of the word productivity. You will receive more than 22 million hits! This topic is Googled constantly, yet business leaders have never felt more ineffective and disconnected. We’re working harder, yet feeling more unproductive than ever.

In my coaching and mentoring sessions, I often hear almost all of my female clients sigh, “Yes, I do need to get better at my time management.”

What they really mean is:

  • “I don’t know how to pull back, set boundaries and say no.”
  • “I actually do love the feeling of knowing I’m needed and this means I work longer and longer hours.”
  • “I need to climb the ladder in this corporation because 
my family is relying on my success

We need to do more than simply say that we’ll get better with our time management. We need to get to the heart of why our productivity is so out of whack and make real, lasting changes.

Research tells us that:

  • Multi-tasking can decrease productivity by 40%. 
– Journal of American Psychology, 2015
  • Australians spend half a day per week on Facebook. In 2016, we spent 12.5 hours per week on Facebook – an increase of four hours per week compared to 2015. 
– Sensis Social Media Report, 2016
  • American companies lose $65 billion annually due to employee sleep deprivation.
– The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2011
  • Experiments found that people are 12% more productive when they are happy.
– University of Warwick, 2014
  • The average office worker in the UK is only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes a day.
– Vouchercloud poll, 2016

In other words, many of us are distracted, stressed and failing to manage our time effectively.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. When we are able to find more effective ways of being productive, we experience more success, more happiness and more profits:

  • In one survey regarding happiness and productivity by the University of Warwick in 2014, 72% of respondents said happiness involved making progress towards goals, even if they never achieved them.
  • Furthermore, across a range of experiments, the same researchers could link happiness and productivity. In fact, individuals have approximately 12% greater productivity than a control group.
  • According to the 50 Best Places to Work 2016 report, by research institute Great Place to Work Australia, revenue per employee increased from $388,473 to $402,047 – an increase of 3.38%. e report said:

“Generally, these companies are driven by a fundamental philosophy that creating a great workplace is the right thing to do, both for employees and business. It should be stressed, however, that there are de nite business benefits: lower employee turnover, better applicant pool, greater product innovation, stronger client relationships, and better long-term growth. When it comes to the financial results, great work-places deliver; maximising their opportunities to at- tract and retain talent, and boost productivity while minimising turnover.”

  • Furthermore, these top places to work recorded 89% employee engagement, compared to Gallup’s workforce poll, which showed 24% employee engagement.

This kind of research provides a convincing argument for boosting your productive leadership. It’s evidence that the implementation of more effective practices can help drive task productivity and your team’s performance. But productive leadership isn’t about doing more. It’s about achieving more. It’s about engaging in procedures that don’t rob you of time, e ort, energy and joy. Productive leadership means achieving greater effectiveness for you and your team.

Before we look at how you can become a productive leader, you need to understand your why. Exactly why do you need to be more productive? What would it mean to you? To figure this out, ask yourself the fol- lowing questions:

  1. What would you do with two extra hours per day?
  2. How are you getting in the way of your own productivity?
  3. What areas of your leadership require a deeper level of self-awareness?
  4. What extra value could you achieve by assessing the way you get work done?
  5. Which relationships need greater focus for improved productivity?

Answer these questions thoughtfully and honestly. No doubt you will realise there are spaces, skills, insights and knowledge that could do with an overhaul. If so, then you have your “why”. It’s your reason for wanting a leadership role, for wanting to continually improve … and for reading on…

One of my clients, Julie, was a business leader who was feeling overwhelmed. It had all become too much, so she gave me a call. The first thing we did was reflect on these five questions.

Her answer to the first question – “What would you do with two extra hours per day?” – was the fundamental reason for why she needed to make changes. She wanted to spend more time with her family. She felt she was missing out and they were growing apart. She said that when she got home, usually late, she felt she was intruding. It was as though she was entering a stranger’s family. Realising that was an incredibly powerful moment – one that shook Julie to her core. She knew it but it wasn’t until she spoke it did the depth of this become a reality. Because she was prepared to reflect on the questions, it meant she was ready to find ways to be a more productive leader so she could stop feeling like a stranger to her own family.

Take the time to reflect on the five questions. You will discover that you have your own motivations and reasons for why you must become a more productive leader. And if you’d like to share your answers with me, I’d be honoured. You can send them to me directly at [email protected]

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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