Paid to Produce

I don’t think I could ever work in a government agency. For the first 25 years of my career I was a trainer and consultant. One of my clients in those days was the Navajo Tribe in Arizona. I worked with the tourism office consulting to the assistant director and director of tourism. I quickly learned that the people who directed that division got paid to talk, or more correctly to talk and write.

There were endless meetings where great ideas were discussed, analyzed, refined, and critiqued followed by voluminous reports in which everything that was discussed, analyzed, refined, and critiqued was restated with footnotes. Then, nothing happened. Plans were drawn up but no plans were implemented. Strategies were formulated but no strategies were employed. Task lists had been meticulously drawn up but no tasks were assigned except to schedule more meetings to discuss what had transpired since the last discussion.

It was maddening! I encouraged, exhorted, admonished, and tried my best to get them off the dime and do something, ANYTHING! The assistant director was somewhat motivated, but claimed his hands were tied by the director. Eventually the assistant director became the director, however nothing changed. The entire system was built around talking and writing, not doing.

The process was more important than the product. Really, the process was the product. Making something happen was scarcely important at all. Planning, discussing, reporting, discussing, meeting, those were important and the product by which they validated themselves and the existence of their agency.

They felt successful because they held,and reported on, a continuing stream of meetings and evaluations. They even discussed the need for action and got bogged down analyzing why no action resulted from their meetings. That analysis of failure became a mark of their success even though the failure, and the system that promoted it, remained unaltered. It was, however, well scrutinized.

Leadership, practical leadership, is predicated upon and committed to action. The one government entity that differs from the one I described above is the military in time of war. Everything, I mean everything, is focused on getting something done.

Leaders are paid to produce. Those who pay you will not long settle for talk alone.If you are self-employed, your business will not survive on talk. Something useful must be produced and sold to someone who considers your product an object of value and are willing to pay for it. Practical leaders earn their worth and consequently their pay by producing.

Get something done! Today, right now! Go ahead, the time for talk has finished. Do it!

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