Effectiveness and Efficiency: Twin Pillars of Good Leadership

Although effectiveness and efficiency are both important in a business setting, people sometimes use the terms interchangeably when they mean different things. To explain the differences in a broad sense, efficiency means that a person can do many things, while effectiveness means that he or she does a few things especially well. 

The latter requires uninterrupted time to focus and think deeply about how to solve a problem. Unfortunately, such distraction-free time is not something that is easy to come by in the typical business environment.

A Further Look at the Differences

As business evolves, some companies have chosen to push effectiveness over efficiency. An effective leader is available to the team in the sense that he or she is being rather than doing. Below are some other important distinctions, with the effective attribute on the left and the efficient attribute on the right.

  • Impact-oriented vs. task-oriented
  • Relational focus vs. product or gig focus
  • To-be lists vs. to-do lists
  • Being present vs. being accomplished
  • Thorough vs. through
  • Strategic vs. impulsive

Effectiveness focuses on completing the current project in a manner that highlights excellence. Finishing a task quickly takes second place to doing a thorough job and making a difference. It tends to be the better way to build a brand as effectiveness strives to make a difference.

Each Strategy Has Its Own Challenges

While effectiveness is often preferable, it’s not always practical in today’s business world. Technological advances mean that companies no longer have the luxury of spending as much time as they need to produce excellent results. 

Competitors will beat them to the market with the same or a similar product, which means all that time spent developing and working on something new could go to waste. The most recent recession towards the end of the last decade has also forced organizations to be more agile and flexible whether that is the preferred method of operation or not.

On the other hand, efficiency without effectiveness can produce devastating results. An employee could be in such a rush to complete a job that he or she ends up doing the right job for the wrong client. Efficient effectiveness is a better solution

How to Implement Both Effectiveness and Efficiency as a Leader

The goal of any leader should be to help his or her team do the right things the right way. That means managers need to model how to merge effectiveness and efficiency in everything they do. They need to be prepared to step in and coach an employee who practices only one of these principals by demonstrating what a difference it can make to practice both. 

The process won’t always be easy since it requires a radical change in thinking. However, the efforts will produce higher quality results in a timely manner, resulting in happier customers and a business with the ability to post higher profits.