Profitability, productivity and Leadership


Last year was the entire planet’s Annus Horribilis. Individuals and organisations have been forced to work in unprecedented ways, handling issues they never expected to face and recreating entire business models to ensure not just that they remain profitable but that they survive at all.

With 2021 now well underway, we asked Steve Grout, Founder & Consultant Partner of GC Partner, Coleville London,  to share some of the work he is doing and how his business is helping other businesses become more profitable. After all, profitability has to be the prime objective of all businesses, and to ensure their profitability leaders everywhere have had to assess themselves and their ability to lead successfully… 

Some leaders have failed to overcome the challenges of the past 12 months, but many have transformed themselves, their way of leading and moved their businesses forward successfully. For many of these it has meant a fundamental re-assessment of how they lead, their style, where they put their energies, how they communicate to their teams – and to the market.

Leadership is now more important than it has ever. In these turbulent times, companies need to ensure they have the right people, in the right roles, doing the right things if they are going to emerge from this current crisis stronger than before. This doesn’t just mean leadership at the very top but throughout businesses, with people at all levels taking responsibility and being accountable.

It is up to leaders to look at how their team can be operating more effectively to achieve business goals.

Dr John Mervyn-Smith,  Chief Psychologist, at The GC Index says, “What is clear is that people don’t go to work to feel impotent. People thrive when they have a clarity of role and responsibility that allows them to make a valued contribution and impact. At the heart of effective performance at work is clarity of expectations and accurate feedback.

“We need to learn what our strengths and gaps are as individuals and a team, to be able to leverage the strengths and address the gaps.”

The 2021 challenge

The first and most important thing that needs to be considered is the direct impact of illness upon employees – both physical and mental wellbeing. The latter will become an increasing issue as we spend more time in Lockdown.

Even when we emerge into the New Normal, whatever that eventually looks like, the impact of these lockdowns will be with us for a long time to come. We haven’t begun to measure the effect of long hours with no clear work/home division, long periods spent furloughed, concerns about employment and long-term isolation. These are issues business leaders need to be thinking about now, even before Lockdown eases, to ensure they help and support those people impacted in this way.

Beyond this, businesses have clearly been impacted in terms of sales and revenues, some so severely it has threatened their very survival. In hospitality and retail the pandemic has created a situation that will be incredibly difficult to recover from. Furloughs, rate holidays and so on have helped, but for many the impact on cash, personal savings and increased debt has proved too much.

Retailers saw their bricks and mortar revenues reduced drastically, even disappear. The successful ones were either lucky enough to be in sectors which were COVID-19 proof, or driven by leaders who were agile, identified ways to pivot, and prepared to lead their business in a different direction.

Even businesses in sectors less threatened by COVID-19, such as ecommerce and IT, have found their businesses changed forever. Everyone has displaced workforces; some companies have already told staff they will never be office based again. Even old-fashioned companies previously threatened or uncomfortable with people working from home have had no choice but to allow it and find ways to make it work through Zoom, Teams, and other collaborative tools.

Many businesses have entered 2021 with reduced revenues, knowing they need to do more with less, and increased customer demands with fewer or a fragmented workforce. In this way efficiency or what we call productivity becomes increasingly important.

Helping build resilience is key. Nathan Ott refers to an impactful mindset: “In uncertain and demanding times organisations need their people to continue to perform. With an ‘Impactful Mindset’ individuals and teams can still maintain a high level of performance with confidence and impact that drives them and the organisation forwards.”

Productivity drives profit

For older readers productivity probably brings back memories of time and motion studies, and younger readers in certain sectors may not even be familiar with the phrase, but basically productivity is the key driver of profitability of all businesses.

We define productivity as the measure of how efficiently goods and services are delivered, it’s about the overall effectiveness of getting things done or performing well.

In simplest terms, productivity is doing what it takes to make more profit.

Maximising productivity means investing time in tasks, activities, or responsibilities that provide a high return for your organisation, in other words focussing on what we call high payoff activities, spending time doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, and for the right length of time.

  • The time at your disposal is your entire time capital
    • You cannot borrow time; you cannot hoard it; you cannot work harder to earn more time. All you can do is invest the time you have. Your productivity is a direct measure of how wisely you use your time. As a wise person once said, “time is the single thing everyone wants more of and yet it’s the thing we’re worst at using.’
  • You cannot afford the luxury of wasted time
    • By identifying the time wasted doing things you are not good at or things not aligned to the activities positively impacting your bottom-line profitability can be increased considerably.

As the old cliché says – rightly – time is money.

Most people would be horrified at wasting personal or company assets in terms of supplies, raw materials, transportation, or inefficient production methods, yet think nothing of using a significant amount of their valuable time to accomplish tasks worth only a fraction of that amount.

So, how do we help businesses focus on productivity and increase their profitability?

The example needs to be set from the top, leaders and their senior teams must be clearly focussed on what their business is trying to achieve, they must set a clear vision and create clear goals, objectives and Key Result Indicators. Most importantly they must be clear about who is doing what, and when and how to achieve them most productively.

The GC Index

In order to meet the needs outlined above, to help senior teams focus and organise themselves into a highly productive teams, we use The GC Index, an organimetric which was created to meet the increasing need for businesses to find people who can drive change through creativity and innovation.

The team at GC Index worked for several years to refine a technique which looked at people’s proclivities and how they make the most impact at work. Using a self-completion questionnaire leaders can be evaluated to their Leadership type and style. It also highlights where they will make the biggest difference to their business by doing what they’re best at, identifying their style of work, and how this can be complemented by other people to deliver productively.




The GC Index Proclivities – as leaders

There are five types of leaders identified by The GC Index.

Strategist: Strategists lead with possibilities that are a product what has gone before. They present ideas in a way that engages others and mobilises action. They bring optimism and energy to predicting the future by mastering the present.

Implementer: Implementers, typically, are high energy people – action and outcome focussed. They will lead by example, demonstrating strong resilience to setbacks. They rely on others for ideas and broader strategic direction given that their real strength is to make things happen. Effective Implementers have developed the skills to help other, for example working with Strategists to test ideas and turn them into reality.

Polisher: Polishers look to balance the challenge of ‘we can do better’ with the support of a ‘safe to fail’ culture. They are demanding, setting high expectations for themselves and others. They focus on stretching others requires a sophisticated skill set to succeed. Their relentless drive means that, at their best, they inspire people to perform to their full potential, but their demanding nature can inhibit others.

Game Changer: Sometimes inflexible and tenacious to the point of being a ‘dog with a bone’, Game Changers’ single-minded natures may mean they are not open to influence and this will distort relationships for some. At their best they lead through the power of ideas and possibilities

Play Maker: Play Makers don’t seek to dominate and are not command and control leaders. Their approach is to be inclusive, to facilitate and seek consensus. They tend to use ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ and can be understated. They value group cohesion that they believe is necessary to drive performance. They seek harmony but the skilful ones will not shy away from confrontation and they will mange conflict in a way to produce cohesion rather than fragmentation.

The GC Index shows that nearly all people have a multi-dimensional approach to leadership, combining these to be successful. Indeed, work by The GC Index team reveals profiles for people feeling engaged by – and comfortable, in their roles are characterised by two dominant proclivities.

These two proclivities shape their individual approach to leadership and management, and this leads to ten possible leadership styles.

Most importantly, all the work undertaken by the team shows all these combinations are represented by successful executives and leaders. The most productive teams are made up of leaders who have different proclivities and understand how each person can play their most productive role within the team to deliver successful outcomes.

The GC Index helps individuals and teams understand their leadership profile and their key proclivities, ensuring they are structured in the most efficient way, as well as identifying gaps in the organisation which can be filled by recruitment, training, or outsourcing.

After Impact sessions have been run, The GC Index team helps ensure the right people are doing the right things, at the right time. In other words, ensuring they are focussing their time on being as productive as possible by making the most of the time available and not wasting this most expensive asset.

The GC Index in action

To provide a concrete example of how the process works, The GC Index recently worked with a senior executive in the Telecoms industry. His ongoing challenge as a Polisher was how he would spend too much time striving for perfection along with picking up other people’s work and ensuring it was all up to his extremely demanding standards. Working with him The GC Index identified many things he didn’t need to be doing or things he was over engineering. This helped him focus on the critical things that mattered and made big difference to the bottom line, the big payoff activities, and in doing so made him and his team more productive instantly.

Another recent example saw The GC Index work with a CEO who is a Game Changer/Polisher. He has lots of ideas and an obsession with making them ‘perfect’ the challenge for him and his business was to articulate the ideas in a strategic framework to make absolute sense to the wider teams – as well as clients and prospects – and then to have someone help him deliver the products and services to the market. In this way a clear gap was identified in his skillset and energy focus, a gap which was easily filled, benefiting everyone.

Working with many Start-ups, particularly in the Tech sector, The GC Index often sees this pattern repeated. Frequently, the founders have great ideas, but they struggle with getting their products to market successfully because they tend to be Game Changers, without the proclivity to create robust strategic frameworks, or the ability to get things done such as creating a sales plan, delivering, and operating it. These guys need Implementers!

Indeed, the pattern often seen with successful start-ups is they have Founders who recognise their blind spot and work to develop their skills or hire in the necessary.  They’ll often recognise this immediately and will say that’s why they hired so and so, to manage operations, or a sales team, to enable them to move onto the next new shiny thing and the ideas get excited about and are energised by.

Alignment creates engagement and business wide productivity

To help alignment and ensure all employees understand their role, objectives, and how their projects help deliver the overall company goals and objectives we use Zokri. This is a class leading employee engagement platform directly connecting employees to their business leaders and the objectives and key results indicators.Integrating with product and project management tools it allows all employees to see how their work is helping the business achieve its overall objectives. In this way it improves productivity by helping people focus on the projects that matter – the big payoff activities really impacting the bottom-line.

The platform dashboards enable senior leaders to actively manage the business through real-time key results indicators rather than wait until after the event … a critical difference in driving productivity and profitability. These dashboards also allow for assessing the team’s wellbeing, work satisfaction and wellness on a regular basis, this real-time information can be acted upon quickly rather than wait for the lag you get when using traditional Employee Satisfaction surveys.

The way ahead

We’ve put 2020 behind us and we all hope for a much brighter 2021. Even so, there will still be difficulties in the months ahead as we navigate lockdowns, restrictions and challenges caused by the ongoing pandemic until vaccinations have reached a critical mass. We’re certain businesses need to be focussed on driving profitability through productivity, focusing on aligning staff to big payoff activities.

We believe more than ever that organisations need a way to quickly and effectively align all their people to make the best impact to the changing business demands, and our experience shows that tools such as The GC Index and Zokri will enable us to help businesses become more profitable.

Author: Steve Grout, Founder & Consultant Partner of GC Partner, Coleville London,



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