Leaders bring Predictability and Productivity

By | January 5, 2019

[January 5, 2019] “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” is a well-known phrase from the U.S. Declaration of Independence. It goes on to say that these are “unalienable rights” which have been given to all humans by their creator. The best leaders are those who push us toward such common goals (as noted in this phrase) and do this by bringing predictability and productivity to us all.

Humans crave predictability. People have a need for ordering principles that makes the world more logical, routine, explainable, and cooperative. That is why we require rules, standards, values, and follow tradition. This helps us justify life and the predicament that we find ourselves in day to day. Perhaps this helps explain why such depressing ideologies such as communism and socialism remain so popular.

Humans need productivity. This gives us meaning and worth. We are more valued as a member of a group when we get things done; whether it is with the family, community, friends, or any given organization. Productivity means we are resilient to changes that may harm others, reliable as an ally, and thoughtful as a citizen. When things are going to hell in a hand basket, everyone looks to us as the person who can make things happen and get us back to predictability as quickly as possible.

The best leaders among us, it follows, are those that can bring predictability and productivity to a much higher magnitude. We’ve all been around leaders that exude confidence and strength. We are convinced they know the right way and have the resources to get things accomplished; and do so with ease. Strongman dictators are notoriously common and long lasting for precisely this reason.

Not unsurprisingly, there are unpredictable risks and lurking danger in our human needs of predictability and productivity. Professor Jordan B. Peterson warms us of some of these in his recent book, “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.” I gave a short review of the book yesterday (see it at this link). Not unlike the philosophers of the past, he believes the world is wrapped in a chaos versus order struggle; the famous yin and yang symbols of the Taoists.

These are powerful forces that are always prowling around in the background. For leaders to understand the power of human needs means to be capable of harnessing it for the good. Sadly, evil can harness its power too. Thus, the long struggle humanity has faced since the first man walked the Earth.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

19 thoughts on “Leaders bring Predictability and Productivity

  1. Lynn Pitts

    As Walter Chen, CEO of startup iDoneThis, recently pointed out in a post on the company’s blog, when the search giant goes looking for leaders, it doesn’t focus on brag-worthy traits like boldness and bravery. Instead it looks mostly for something very, very boring. What is this magic quality? Simple predictability.

    1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      “If you can predict what your boss is going to do that means you don’t have to spend as much energy managing that relationship, dealing with their meddling, and justifying your actions.” I think this helps explain why.

  2. Gil Johnson

    Leaders of global organizations—indeed, leaders of all organizations—have focused on increasing predictability for their subordinates and thus for the organization as a whole. Recall Frederick W. Taylor’s turn-of-the-century theory of scientific management, according to which the manager’s job was to set clear standards of performance.

  3. Eric Coda

    As people turned from hunting to farming, then to manufacturing, the link between organizations and the need for predictability became more complex. This is where leadership comes into play.

  4. Doug Smith

    Good article on “The Power of Predictability” in Forbes. This is really about leadership and supports General Satterfield’s argument that leaders make things predictable and productive. My thinking is that leaders are there to get the job done. As someone else noted, they ‘get er done.’
    The Power of Predictability – https://hbr.org/1995/07/the-power-of-predictability

    1. Eddie Ray Anderson,

      According to the author of the article, “the practices that leaders are adopting to make their organizations more competitive are ignoring the human need for predictability.” Wow, this is a good article to make me think about how to be a better leader.

  5. Eva Easterbrook

    This upcoming decade will be bursting with new innovations. The only issue I see is that too many people will be putting their faith in technology rather than in humans. This can have a dark side to it. Just look at how weak and ineffective college students are these days. They are not just immature but fragile.

  6. Greg Heyman

    This article is right on target. I just read about how the country of Australia has developed the first robot train. That’s right, a train that pulls freight. For those who would like to read about it and how the improvements in technology can make our life safer, more predicatable, and productive, please read this article.
    “With new autonomous train, Australia is now home to the world’s largest robot ”

    1. Lady Hawk

      This is also why we call leaders “innovative” in their approach to solutions.

    2. Willie Shrumburger

      Good one. Thanks. Keep these supportive articles coming our way.

  7. Andrew Dooley

    Good article today, Gen. Satterfield. We are still looking foward to reading another article by Sadako Red. You might also want to write about leadership in an organization that pushes the US Constitution. The NRA comes to mind unlike much of the media that is anti US Constitution.

  8. Army Captain

    Thanks for the interesting twist on the way we see leadership.

    1. Army Captain

      This is why my commander always told me that being predicatable to my soldiers would be one of the qualities they most likely would appreciate.

      1. Wesley Brown

        🙂 Thanks for the confirmation of this idea, Army Captain. Thanks also for your service.

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