Efficiency and effectiveness

You can get far in life if you are efficient. To be efficient is to be well-organised and competent. Other words to describe efficiency are ‘methodical’, ‘systematic’, ‘structured’, ‘well planned’, ‘logical’, ‘coherent’, ‘orderly’, ‘businesslike’ and ‘productive’. If you demonstrate these qualities you are in high demand and you will most probably be promoted to higher positions. You will be the ‘go-to person’ to get things done. Efficiency in our modern world is often valued above anything else … such as ‘effectiveness’. When we consider effectiveness we are looking for a desired and lasting positive outcome. Effectiveness, therefore, requires of us to put more thought into our actions, more questioning, more perspectives and more long-term vision. To develop effectiveness, a person has to be willing to grapple with the complexities of life. And those that are most telling in the long run, are the complexities of human thinking and behaviour.

Growing beyond efficiency

As a rule, we don’t have a problem to identify ineffective behaviours in others. When we are on the receiving end of manipulation, sarcasm or coercion, we instantly have a negative feeling towards the person and his message. If we respond in the same manner, we believe we have to do so to get even, rather than questioning our effectiveness. As we progress in life, find a career and learn how to cope with the various demands of adult life, our interest in personal growth tends to wane. As long as we have proven our efficiency and are rewarded well enough for it, we feel we have secured a good life. Effectiveness, however, involves the willingness to learn and grow far beyond efficiency, both as individuals and collectively as teams and organisations.

The irony of becoming more efficient

To grow to higher levels of effectiveness, ironically, requires us to unlearn many things we relied on to become more efficient – such as the need to feel in control. As we hope to develop our ego-strength and ability to protect ourselves from the many perceived dangers to our well-being, we tell ourselves that we should control matters, in direct or indirect ways. Since it is difficult to feel in control and be open at the same time, we stop listening and learning – even if we pretend to be listening. Ultimately, it renders us less effective than what we could have been.

Growth and risk

To unlearn and change the thought patterns that lead to our ineffective behaviours involves risk. But true growth and risk are inseparable. As children we took many risks and naively believed we will be OK. As adults, to continue growing, we need a second naivety and risk letting go of our efforts to self-promote and self-protect. Instead, we must risk being authentic and loving others. As adults we can take responsibility for the risks we take and learn from them. Spiritually, we are hopefully wiser, more appreciative of life as a gift and opportunity to serve rather than a race to win.

Heartstyles (www.hearstyles.com)

In our efforts to self-promote and self-protect we develop ineffective thinking styles and behaviours. They undermine effective behaviours that are rooted in the openness and willingness to grow character and serve others. The scientifically tested and validated heartstyles indicator is the best way for individuals and organisations to identify their ineffective styles and growth path.

Author : Dr Gerhard van Rensburg