Given the title of this blog, you might expect that the focus would be on personal productivity or time management. Personally, I am a junkie on these topics and I have spent years developing my own ways of trying to do things better. At first, as I focused on getting my work and personal priorities straight and planning my time around getting my work done while also taking care of myself and the people I love, I was able to see great improvements. Today I still find little tweaks and improvements I can make in the personal productivity area, but the big gains are not coming anymore.
Where I am getting the big gains now is in how I lead people. Whereas in the past I had my goals and I tried to get people to help me reach them, now I am getting better at setting goals collaboratively with groups and with individuals. I then focus on doing all I can to help those doing the work. When I say helping them, I mean helping people understand the importance of what they are doing, bridging communication gaps among people and within groups, making sure that people have the right resources, and taking lots of time to listen. With my new mindset, I am seeing tremendous gains in what gets done on many times the scale of the gains I saw when I focused solely on getting my personal act together.
I studied recently under Warren Rustand – entrepreneur, educator, and public servant. As he described the key to leadership and sustainable success in business, he kept talking about this idea of “servant leadership” – something I have heard of but kinda put off as a buzzword. He defined it as the subordination of one’s personal interests to the interests of others. It sounds kind of wishy washy at first, but when I thought about it I realized that if you take the time to make sure you have brought the right “others” together, you have aligned the group’s “interests”, and you are willing to take the time to understand each person’s personal needs and ambitions, then you can totally throw yourself into serving others with the aim of achieving amazing results for the organization and for each individual. I realized that this where I am improving and seeing positive gains.
My message with this blog? Mastery of your personal productivity and time is important and is the first step in your growth as a leader. It is a 2–3 times multiplier of YOUR personal effectiveness. This servant leadership thing, though, seems to have no limits. As I get better at it, I am seeing major gains in the stuff WE can get done together even though I am still very much a babe in the woods on this. Maybe I am getting a 10 times multiplier? Look at an example like Martin Luther King and you see that servant leadership multiplier effect can reach 1,000x! What an opportunity to get tons of important stuff done!