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Productivity: Making It Simple Not Simpler

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to add more clarity to your problem solving. Read time: 2:49.

         The minister announced that his sermon on this Sunday morning would be “childishly, simple.” He paused and then added very seriously: “I really worked at it to make it that simple.”

          Leaders  work very hard to make complex ideas THAT simple. They maintain the richness of the context without dumbing down the content. Those simple-minding leaders are anything but simple-minded.

         They enrich themselves and others with the same train of thought that billionaire Warren Buffett rides in leading investment strategy.    “Successful investing is simple but not easy,” Buffett says.

        So too, is successful leading: It’s simple but not easy.

        In fact in takes great courage and confidence to be simple, according to Jack Welch, the former chairman of the General Electric Company.

      “You can’t believe how hard it is for people to be simple, how much they fear being simple,” Welch says.  “They worry that if they’re simple, people will think they’re simple-minded. In reality, of course, it’s just the reverse. Clear tough-minded people are the most simple.”

         Yet insecure managers hide behind complexity. They snow you with a blizzard of  paperwork; they flood you with deluge of information. It’s a movie that Welch has seen too many times.  Call it the Complex Cinema where  “frightened nervous managers use thick, convoluted planning books and busy slides filled with everything they‘ve known since childhood.” 

         With that mountain of minutia piled high and wide, it’s easier for those frightened managers to hide. After all  there is a certain complicity in complexity, a complicity that overwhelms the non-leader in process more than performance;  in documentation more than discipline, in talking without saying much.

 Real leaders don’t eliminate. They illuminate.

         Real leaders don’t hide behind their PowerPoints. They infuse the power of clarity and perspective into their points.   Real leaders share the disdain of Oliver Wendell Holmes, the former Supreme Court Justice  who noted that he wouldn’t “give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity but I would give my right arm for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”

        Make things simple – and not simpler as Albert Einstein so famously noted. How? With leadership rooted in connecting the dots with insight and judgement that draws meaningful distinctions not forgettable extinctions.  Sure, you can always make something simpler by denuding it, by stripping parts from it, by throwing the baby out with the bath water.  But denuding would be deluding. Real leaders don’t subtract. They extract.  Real leaders don’t confine. They refine. Real leaders don’t eliminate. They illuminate.

       Real leaders embrace  the notion of  scientist Martin Fischer who observed: “Knowledge is a process of piling up facts. Wisdom lies in their simplification. Real leaders simplify to amplify. As author Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “To be simple is to be great.”  But you have to work it–from your own personal pulpit with your daily sermon to self. And that ‘s not easy.

 Today’s ImproveMINT

Simplify to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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