The Producer, Manager, and Leader
From Stephen Covey’s Principle Centered Leadership (p. 244):
In organizations, people usually perform one of three essential roles: producer, manager, or leader. Each role is vital to the success of the organization.
For example, if there is no producer, great ideas and high resolves are not carried out. The work simply doesn’t get done. Where there is no manager, there is role conflict and ambiguity; everyone attempts to be a producer, working independently, with few established systems or procedures. And if there is no leader, there is lack of vision and direction. People begin to lose sight of their mission.
Although each role is important to the organization, the role of leader is most important. Without strategic leadership, people may dutifully climb the “ladder of success” but discover, upon reaching the top rung, that it is leaning against the wrong wall.
In light of this, let me offer a small (OK, massive) critique of GTD (“Getting Things Done”): I would argue that, by its very nature, it inclines people to think in terms of individual contributors rather than managers or leaders. This is great if you are, in fact, a producer. But as a producer, your efforts can only scale so far–you can only get so much “done.” If your efforts are going to scale, if you are going to exponential increase the impact of what you do, you need to operate as a manager or leader. And to do this, you need to operate with a different mindset, and slightly different approach, than that which is set forth in the GTD system.
(Note: this doesn’t mean everyone should be a manager or leader–be what you are called to be, and want to be. If you are a producer, good management and leadership will also result in your work becoming effective for joint performance that is larger than itself. But those managers and leaders will be more effective if they are not operating according to GTD, as it is.)