How to be productive, successful and lazy!

Barry dressed for a day in the office

This is a guest post by Barry Hoffman who is the Group HR Director of Computacenter. I have known Barry for many years and I can honestly say he is one of the most productive and successful leaders I have ever worked with. Lazy? Perhaps not but he rarely attends meetings, works a standard day and always has time to meet useful and interesting people. Read on to find out how he does it all…..

When the Flair man asked me to write a blog on how to be productive, successful and lazy, I predictably and inevitably said I couldn’t be bothered, and even if I could, I’d be outsourcing it to some lesser mortal. But after some, frankly, undignified, begging for a man of his maturing stature and the promise of fine dining, I relented and so here is the secret to a productive and successful career: Let people do their jobs.

Believe it or not, it’s easier to write than it is to do – but it soon becomes a habit. I am, I think, quite successful – by lots of measures (financial, hierarchical, family, health and so on), but I am apt to look on the bright side, I grant you.

In all seriousness though, to be successful you need to let go – trust those around you (give them support, guidance and clear boundaries) but don’t interfere with the experts, listen to what those around you say and then allow them to fulfil their potential. Don’t take opportunities from them – they may do things 80% the way that you wanted but the other 20% might be better than you could ever imagine – or indeed better than you could ever achieve yourself.

So many of us feel the need to speak, to have it our way and to be superior by knowing more about everything than those beneath us. It’s primeval and natural. But overcome this and you are unlocking a rich seam of productivity. You will achieve more through others than you ever imagined and, if you do it with magnanimity, encouragement and genuine permission, then you will have the most loyal, engaged and committed team you could hope for. They will cover more ground than you could ever hope to alone. It’s no accident that Newton’s quote “standing on the shoulders of giants” is a cliché. Use the strengths of those around you and you can cover great distance (operationally) and see for miles around (strategically).

This approach is hard work and takes lots of practice. But once you’ve cracked it you will be productive and successful. If you want to know how to start then my advice is to listen, really listen to your people, let them do their jobs and try as hard as you can to encourage, support, guide and not interfere.

And how do you do that – well of course, it helps if you’re lazy!


Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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Posted in Efficiency and Effectiveness, Guest, Inspiration, Leadership
8 comments on “How to be productive, successful and lazy!
  1. I think there’s a lot to be said for that – for me the key is having people who thrive in that sort of environment.

  2. alanmkenny says:

    I guess it is about leaders having the right type of ego, the one that is strong enough to allow everyone else to develop without them feeling threatened.

    • Mike Ames says:

      I think that’s bang on the money Alan. Over-protectionism and any trace of insecurity will result in leaders suppressing rather than liberating their people. Happens all too often I think.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this post, so refreshing to hear that Barry listens to his team and encourages them to think and act for themselves. A great way forward and one that produces positive results. Wonderful!

  4. Gary Willis says:

    All so true. My philosophy has always been to provide an environment in which people can be successful. Not saying I don’t ever interfere, but try to be selective. There is no such phrase as trial and success. You must give your people a chance to try and be prepared to coach and provide feedback so they learn from the experience and grow.

    • Mike Ames says:

      “there is no such thing as trial and success” how very true Gary. Great leaders create an environment where their people can grow safely thru failure.

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Mike Ames

Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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