The definition of productive leadership is: “A leader, provided with resources and guidance, using his or her roles, attributes, and skills applied through personal and position power to influence others to efficiently and effectively achieve goals.”
I’ll grant you that it is a pretty wordy definition. An important point is that Productive Leadership cannot be attained simply by attending a class on leadership skills. Productive Leadership is a system. Leaders cannot be expected to perform at a high level if they don’t have resources, guidance, and an understanding of objectives and goals. When a leader has sufficient resources, guidance, and goals, he or she can be held accountable to learn and apply:
The functions of his or her roles (technician, coach, manager, systems thinker and visionary), with appropriate time allocated for each
The attributes of a good leader: consistency, attentiveness, respectfulness, assertiveness, and the ability to motivate
His or sources of power (the seven types of position and personal power) in proper applications of each
Often, leadership training covers only leadership skills. But even when the training covers roles, attributes, and sources of power, trainees don’t get full value from the workshop. To get value, our brains need to process new information and consolidate it into long-term memories. Studies have shown that one-time exposure to new information results in only a 10%–20% retention rate. If you don’t retain information, you won’t apply it, and if you don’t apply it, you’ll get a poor return on investment (ROI).
While doing research for my book, I read Brain Rules, a 2014 book by John Medina, who has thoughtfully posted a series of short videos as a companion to the book.
Medina presents 12 brain “rules” that are based on published, peer-reviewed research. Among the rules are several that relate directly to how we convert new information to memories: attention (rule 6), memory (rule 7), sensory integration (rule 8), and vision (rule 9).
The attention rule basically says we don’t pay attention to boring things: Learning should be interactive and interesting, or else we’ll tune out. The important aspect of the memory rule is that we must use repetitive, spaced learning to consolidate a memory. We can retain a new piece of information for about 30 seconds but lose it quickly. Being exposed to the information again within 1–2 hours and then at spaced intervals every couple of days will consolidate a memory. The sensory integration rule says that new information is more persistent when we engage more of our senses. Finally, the vision rule states that vision is by far the most effective sense for conveying and retaining information.