Maximum Participation Yields Maximum Productivity

I recently spoke with a corporate manager who said, “I wish we could get everyone to carry his or her own weight around here.” Earlier, an employee from another organization told me, “Some people who are dragging their feet are causing extra work for those of us who seem to care more about the company and what we do.”
Managers have the challenge to get maximum or near-maximum productivity from their people and, at the same time, help everyone find fulfillment and gain more reward from his or her work. This challenge, of course, is not relegated to managers in the business world. It is a common challenge for leaders in any endeavor. Maximum participation yields maximum productivity throughout our society.
As I have watched athletic contests in recent years, it appears to me there is more maximum participation than ever before. Coaches and players alike realize and plan from the standpoint that each individual has certain strengths and certain weaknesses. In football, for example, a coach will insert a specific running back when a couple of tough yards through the middle of the line are needed. A different running back will be inserted when a pass needs to be caught. Another back may be inserted for the purpose of running the ball outside.
In basketball, it has become quite common to see coaches substitute players for offensive and defensive purposes. That’s one of the reasons the final two minutes of a game may last for about 30 minutes. With the planned fouling, times-out, and substitutions, the chess-match games sometimes seem like they will never end.
In baseball, years ago, pitchers began games with the intention of going the distance. No more. If you have seen any games over the past number of years, you are well aware there are pitchers who start the game, those who come in as middle-relievers, those who come in as late-relievers, and those who come in to pitch the final inning. In one game, I saw three different pitchers face the three batters in the last inning.
Maximum participation is a proven way to tap into the power of various people for the good of the team, regardless of what type of team it may be. The Hopi Indians have a legend that captures this value. A tribe was forced to abandon its village because of a raging wildfire. In their haste, the tribe left behind two boys – one was blind and the other was unable to walk. The boys realized they would perish if they remained at the abandoned village, but neither was capable of escaping on his own. So they combined forces and developed a plan. The blind boy hoisted the lame boy onto his shoulders. With the sighted child guiding the way and the other child walking, the two found their way to the rest of the tribe. The tribe created a special Kachina doll to celebrate the victorious escape. Kachina dolls originally came into existence when families, clans, and tribes joined together and pooled their assets for communal survival.
As a professional speaker and consultant for over 25 years, I have participated with various groups and have encouraged group members to participate with one another. With some of these organizations, it has been an on-going relationship through the years. They have certain things they wish to accomplish and I have worked with them in my areas of expertise as a catalyst to help them reach their goals. In a way, I have been a “participative running back” for some special needs – and all who read this column have specific strengths to offer to your groups.
If you are a leader, what are some ways you can form maximum participation to help your team’s productivity and, in the end, help yourself?
Carl Mays, author of over a dozen books and speaker at over 3,000 events, can be contacted at 865-436-7478 or His books, including A Strategy For Winning, People of Passion, Anatomy Of A Leader, Are We Communicating Yet? and Winning Thoughts, are available in stores, on and


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