Productivity is not the Goal

There's a lot being written these days about being productive. I read several posts this morning containing ideas on how to Hack Productivity. These articles contained many useful ideas. My concern is that most were about form not substance.

Many of the ideas I encountered would certainly increase my output – get up at 4:00 so no one will interrupt; stop having coffee with people because it takes too much time, etc. My concern with this ideas: Doing more is NOT the same as adding more value.
I’ve admitted it before, I’m a fan of Peter Drucker. As he pointed out in his book, The Effective Executive, manual work can always be judged by quantity of output. Sounds like productivity to me. However, leaders are not judged on this metric. Leaders should be judged on results. Cleaning out 500 emails is not the goal.
According to Drucker, effectiveness can be learned. If you haven’t read, The Effective Executive, I highly recommend it. Somehow, leaders get confused. I’m fearful I do myself from time to time.

How many meetings I attend is not a measure of my effectiveness.

How many emails I get or send has no bearing on my effectiveness.

How many frequent flyer miles I amass is not an indication of my effectiveness.

How many followers I have on Twitter is not a measure of my effectiveness.

How many people report to me is not a measure of effectiveness.

How often I’m asked to help solve a problem speaks nothing of my effectiveness.

How tired I am at the end of the day is not a metric of effectiveness either.

How many Christmas cards I get cannot be equated to effectiveness.

For a leader, effectiveness is: Doing the right things. The metric is results.
Effectiveness is a path to results – not productivity. You get no credit for doing the wrong things well.
Don’t get me wrong – I do not think we should waste time. It is our greatest currency as a leader. I support any system, strategy or tactic to improve efficiency. I just have to remember, getting more work done is not an indication I’m fulfilling my role as a leader.
You and I should be judged on results. We get those results by working on the right things. A final example…
In the 2004 Olympics, Matthew Emmons was on track to win the gold medal in the fifty-meter, three-position rifle event. He had a huge lead with one shot remaining. You may know this story; he sent his bullet through the center of the target, guaranteeing his gold medal - NO! His shot had gone through the bulls-eye of the wrong target. He finished 8th.  Matthew was productive; he was not effective. Be sure you’re aiming at the right target.
The next time you go home and your spouse asks, “How was your day?” and your answer is I cleaned out 500 emails or attended 9 meetings, maybe you should ask yourself a question: “Was I effective today?”[GLS_Shield]

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