For Greater Employee Productivity, Cultivate Leadership

According to Robert Samuelson’s recent Washington Post column, one of the real culprits of our country’s current economic ills is the issue of low growth in productivity. Slow growth in productivity equates to slow growth in wages. In the 2016 presidential election, the candidates who are talking about stagnant wages are striking a chord with voters, even though they are providing few answers about how to fix it.

LeadershipEmployee productivity is the linchpin of reviving the economy, but Samuelson doesn’t get to the heart of why productivity has fallen. The emerging economy is based on relationships, but employees who feel disempowered will perform minimally, leaving tremendous amounts of human capital underutilized. Productivity can’t grow with a disengaged workforce. Organizations are not engaging with their workforce in a way that engenders excellence. Most employers aren’t cultivating genuine leadership within the workplace.

Estimates show that businesses spend nearly $14 billion annually on leadership training, but a recent McKinsey report shows these employers have little to show for the investment. The mistake most companies make is in thinking leadership can be an “add-on.” The truth is, leadership must be cultivated. Each person has a unique combination of talents, strengths and skills that when coupled with their passion becomes their greatest asset. But too few people truly understand their leadership, let alone have the clarity to bring it forward in the workplace.

As a result of a lack of clarity of one’s individual leadership skills, many people are trying to do things for which they don’t have the natural skill or passion. No amount of “leadership training” is going to correct the basic confusion and misalignment. The challenge for business leaders is to find the clarity within themselves and become examples to engage leadership in others. Real change happens when aligned leaders walk the walk in their organizations each day. Tweet this thought!

Leadership, like relationships, is messy. If training could manufacture leadership, the billions spent on it would show different results. But when a company has a sound approach, based on unleashing the authentic leadership of each individual, change occurs and everyone benefits. But someone in the company’s leadership team must be focused on cultivating effective leadership practices so that the organizational leaders become the teachers. So if you want to increase productivity in your organization, work to ensure that the cultivation of leadership is modeled from the top level down. Tweet this thought!

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11 thoughts on “For Greater Employee Productivity, Cultivate Leadership”

  1. Terrific points you’ve raised above, Kathleen! I would agree that it’s prudent for employers to seek out professionals to teach techniques/strategies for leading others if they don’t have them in-house to conduct this ongoing learning. The right attitude and willingness must be there on the part of the managers to learn or adapt their current approach to leading (I really liked you referring to part of the challenge as a ‘lack of clarity’ of one’s skills and referenced this as a significant cause of ‘misalignment’).

    I do place some weight in the leader’s personality as a contributing factor in their effectiveness as a leader. There is that subset of leaders that just have charisma. I find that aspect of leadership difficult to quantify but easy to see.

    Great article, Kathleen, and thanks for sharing!!

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