Effective and Efficient —An unclear dichotomy?
It is very easy to confuse efficiency as the same as effectiveness. There is nothing farther from the truth. The two can quite easily be opposites if we take a closer look. In everyday language, we can easily say a person is efficient and actually mean they are effective. Hopefully your view will be well-formed by the end of this article and you will begin to look for effectiveness and not efficiency.
Efficient actually means you are good at keeping things the way they are—you meet the standard. There is a system and a standard in place, you follow it very well enough not to upset it. So that most people are in fact efficient (normal or average performers) and form the 80% of the population that keep things the way they are. As long as we remain efficient in what we do, we will get good results but nothing will change. There will be no breaking of new grounds. This is detrimental to human progress as by nature, the world itself is in a perpetual state of growth and nothing stays the same. The mobile phone in your hand has not always been the way it is. It has been continuously changed by effective people who consistently sought to improve. It is normal for people to be born into the world, live and die. That is normal and a person can get very good at living life efficiently without making any real difference. Efficient leadership therefore, actually keeps us where we are— maintaining the status quo.
Effective on the other hand is another matter altogether. There are certain individuals who’s very presence challenges everyone and everything around them. They know not another way to live but to change things for the better. Such persons are responsible for the progress mankind enjoys. As soon as they become a part of something, that thing must change. It is the reason they are referred to as game changers. These are the effective people— the 10% responsible for raising the bar for everyone else to catch up. They are peak performers.
So that we can easily see what can be described as an effective leader and efficient leader. It is the difference between a person who got into a position and a person who actually lead the way with something they did. Effectiveness is what Jesus meant when he said “you are the salt of the earth”.Salt by nature is an effective change agent. You know immediately when the food is missing salt just as you know when Barcelona is missing Messi. When a person is born into the world, he must leave it improved—something about the world must be better or something of great benefit must come into existence because of his presence.
This then is the difference between being efficient and being effective. Most importantly it is imperative for every one of us to evaluate ourselves regarding our effectiveness. And if we are in a leadership position, ensure that we are true leaders and not position occupiers. What is the nature of your influence on the organization you are part of? How has that group changed for the better since you became part of it? May you receive grace to be the salt of any group you are a part of. May things begin to move because of you.