Efficiency Before Effectiveness

All leaders desire to be effective in what they do. Part of what makes a leader a leader is that they are naturally results driven people. But in our pursuit to get results, we sometimes overlook the most important component of effectiveness, efficiency.

Truet Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A made this statement in a Board meeting when being pressed by his directors to expand the franchise faster, "If we get better, our customers will demand that we get bigger.”

That's a powerful principle. Sometimes as leaders we are so eager for growth that we push our organizations into an unsustainable pace. Simply, we grow too quickly. This can become detrimental to the long term future of the organization. This is so common, even among the best leaders, because leaders are naturally forward thinking. We are always looking into the future. We are never satisfied in the present. We are never big enough, strong enough, or fast enough. This insatiable drive is part of our DNA and it's what makes others want to follow us. But, in our future-focused, vision-driven mindsets, we must at times slow down and look around us to make sure we are efficient enough to sustain the next growth push. In other words, we need to be better before we get bigger, efficient before effective.

How do we get better? I believe there are two ways to constantly monitor our efficiency.

  1. Clarification. One of the things I appreciate about sports is that the win is crystal clear. Everybody on the team understands what it takes to get a win - simply outscore your opponent. And at anytime during the match, everyone knows exactly how they are doing by simply checking the score board. But this becomes much more difficult in the business and non-profit world. There is no scoreboard and the win isn't always clear. Why is having clear win so important?

    • It helps your team stay on the same page.
    • It allows you to manage your resources more effectively.
    • It creates the potential for positive momentum.
 A motivated team works harder
, is less negative
, trust their leadership
, are more generous with their time, and stay more involved.

    Here are 

four steps to help you clarifying your win.

    • Sum up the win in a simple phrase. 

Keep it short and simple because memorable is portable.

Keep the win as specific as possible.
  Defining a win is not the same as a mission statement. A mission statement is sometimes too general, it’s more like a compass. While it may help keep an organization moving in the right direction, it does not necessarily ensure effectiveness. When you clarify the win, it is like marking a specific destination on a map. It’s easy to know when you win because you arrive at your desired destination.
    • Restate the win frequently and creatively.
 Clear communication is a key to winning
. The more consistent you are at communicating the win for every program and department, the easier it is to keep your leaders and staff from taking unintended detours.
    • Clarify the win at every level
 of your organization. It’s not enough to ask “what does a win look like for our business?” You must ask "what does a win looks like at every level or our organization?"

    So, how clear is your win? Clarifying the win is not the same as setting goals. You can reach a goal but you experience a win. There’s much more emotion around experiencing a win then in simply reaching a goal.

  2. Evaluation. It’s impossible to effectively evaluate if you have not clarified the win. It's also important to realize that evaluation, at every level of your organization, must remain unfiltered. If you can’t talk about it, you can’t improve it. Why is evaluation so important?

    • Jim Collins says, “You absolutely cannot make a series of good decisions without first confronting the brutal facts.”
    • John Maxwell said, “Experience teaches you nothing, but evaluated experience teaches everything.”

    Here are three things to continually keep a realistic eye on:

    • the Situation - it is often worse than you think
    • the Process - it usually takes longer than you think.
    • the Price - it always costs more than you think.

    John Maxwell encourages leaders to 
ask these 6 
Questions to help define reality:

    • What is reality in this situation? Do others agree with my assessment?
Can I identify each issue? Can I break down reality to better understand it?
    • Can the issues be fixed? Separate the solvable from the unsolvable.
    • What are the options? Establish a game plan.
    • Am I willing to follow the game plan? My commitment as a leader is essential.
    • Will my leadership team follow the game plan? Their commitment as leaders is also essential.

Question: Have you ever outgrown your efficiency? What happened? What would you do differently? You can leave a comment in the "Leave a Reply" box below.