Business Leadership: Don’t be a busy bastard
A couple of years ago General Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff and Secretary of State, wrote a book called “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership“. It is an excellent book on leadership from a man that led organizations at the highest levels, in it he presents a concept of particular interest to business leaders everywhere, he called it the “busy bastards”. General Powell recalls that he heard the term in context from one of his colleagues in the Army during his long and distinguished career. The term refers to individuals whom, although both exceptionally skilled and hard working, confuse being “busy” with being productive. Deductively many leaders assume that “hard” workers are beneficial to a company. An employee spend lots of time at work, produces plenty of reports or products, therefore that particular employee must be a benefit to the organization, correct? What if that “hard” work is actually just busy work? Many employees believe that to impress a supervisor they must show they are productive, and the most efficient way to be productive is to remain busy at work. This is a concept that should cause pause in every business leader, organizations need to be both effective and efficient. If employees, or even leaders, are engaged in busy work then the mechanisms for rewarding behavior in the company must be skewed.