Ask yourself: “am I particularly efficient…or am I effective in what I do and the decisions that I make?”
Self-reflection, taking into account many factors is important to continue to produce improvement and awareness about what is going well and what you would like to change about who you are and what you do. In my most recent role as a national leader within a global organisation I had many responsibilities and tasks assigned to my role. I was also in the fortunate position to have a degree of flexibility and freedom in my direction and subsequently, that of my team.
Last year there was a leadership change within my team, which had its pros and cons. However, I did find that I had less opportunity to genuinely contribute my ideas and felt significantly less valued and comfortable in my role as a result. My point is not to judge the leadership decisions, more of how this made me react internally and the choices I made during this period.
I found great value in self-reflection (in some cases my unconscious thoughts influenced my conscious choices) and specifically spent time focusing on how efficient and effective I was being.
Were the changes impacting my team? Had my demeanor changed? Was I still as effective and efficient in my role as a leader as in the past?
Questions such as this at face value may have been instigated from self-doubt, however I found power in being able to analyse my routines, creativeness and methods of working. As someone who has focused quite a deal of time on this topic having coached and supported many leaders in similar situations, I knew this could be the make or break for my tenure, depending on the outcomes of my decisions. The journey I went on and related learning may be of value to you.
So, what did I do? I researched the specific contexts of effectiveness, efficiency and related themes. Not so that I could define the words for the sake of it, more so as I wanted to ensure I was not assuming too much, which could skew my choices.
efficiency - The ratio of the output to the input of any system. Skillfulness in avoiding wasted time and effort; “she did the work with great efficiency”. Economy – the efficient use of resources; “economy of effort”; inefficiency – unskillfulness resulting from a lack of efficiency (1)
Was my focus on the right things – the ability to avoid wasting time and effort? Stripping back on the many tasks and focusing on the core few reaped the rewards for me that I know would add most benefit, no matter the situation.This required a level of focus and self-awareness that I had not used before. I also had to ‘let go’ or at least flex many existing thoughts and beliefs.
We often become set in our ways, accept the norms and standards that have been established for months or even years.This is very prominent in work cultures and leadership.
A willingness to firstly see these inefficient processes and desire to drive change are two different behaviours, but both are required. Knowing something and doing something are not the same thing. I knew it was imperative at that time to be as effective as possible in my decision-making and actions.
effective -a. Having an intended or expected effect. b. Producing a strong impression or response. Effectiveness relates to getting the right things done. (1)
The decisions revolved around all aspects of my life, not just work. Choices that impacted my wife, three daughters, work team, myself, friendship group and future direction were all balanced in my decision-making. I found that taking a step back and analysing my current situation allowed me to improve my future situation, as well as provide greater comfort in the moment.
It was efficient thinking – organised, less random and controlled thinking that provided the platform to make the next choice. I was not wasting time and effort at work or at home on those things that mattered less. Without going through this process my mind was jumbled, confused and I had much less ability to think clearly and take action forward. At best I was static – at worst, going backwards. A focus on efficiency allowed me to target, challenge myself on specific needs and take forward steps.
In many ways I am teaching myself to live more in the moment and practice a new concept for me – Mindfulness.
Being mindful and the related concepts has become more prominent in recent years. Mindfulness has links to psychology, Buddhism, meditation and other spiritual themes but is popular now because it has a place in our modern, busy world.
Essentially mindfulness is: bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis,or involves paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. (2)
Being more present or in the moment allows us to make choices that somehow seem more appropriate and relevant. This framework of thinking then allowed me to more easily work towards analysing effectiveness, again measured in all aspects of my life. I needed to understand whether there was an intended or expected effect and whether I was prepared for action. The answer: No, not in all things, but I can say that the clarity and direction gave me pause for thought and my choices and decisions did change as a result.
It is now only as I reflect on this period earlier in the year do I realise the benefit of ‘breaking down’ thought processes into a structured arrangement led to the right decisions, often only proven in time.
Post-script: after 25 years of working for many large national and global organisations I left work earlier this year to focus full-time on my external consultancy, training and coaching business. I had been developing the brand and strategy for the 18 months prior. However the thought-process and my focus on what is most effective and efficient for me to be spending my time on, allowed me to leave a legacy with my previous employer and team whilst making the choice to work full-time on CoachStation. It is going very well and I have rarely been happier and more confident for our future!