Published: 05th January 2022
E-Canteen Fundas: Nailing your team's vision is fine, but how do you achieve it is the real question
Leadership will be judged by concrete results so figure ways to improve productivity. Your productivity improves when you identify what is important and do that first
‘We’ve got our team vision and values sorted, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘Now we’re waiting for results.’
‘Should we just wait for results?’ asked Rahul and added, ‘Or do something about them?’
‘As a leader, you will be judged only by the results you produce — clear, tangible results,’ said Rakesh. ‘So far, you have set course for long-term results — a worthy ‘why’ that gets everyone believing in something bigger than themselves and a team culture that binds the team together. But for results in the short term, you must know how to use the other ‘how’ of leadership — how to achieve results efficiently.’
‘I am all ears, bhaiyya,' said Rinku and asked, ‘How can we increase our efficiency? I thought once we tell the team what to do, they will start working and work gets done.’
‘People may work hard, but being more productive is all about being more efficient,’ said Rakesh. ‘Firstly, understand that humans do the minimum required — they do not push themselves to the limit. For example, how much of your potential do you think you are using?’
‘Maybe 70-80 per cent, bhaiyya,’ said Rahul confidently.
‘Actually closer to 10-20 per cent’ said Rakesh laughing. ‘Management gurus aver that by doing things right, we can achieve 10 times of what we are achieving now, with the same resources. Which means that most of the time, we work very hard and use up a lot of time and energy yet end up with low results. So, let’s discuss how to make your efforts count through established productivity concepts.’
‘What are they, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.
‘Firstly, Stephen Covey’s mantra of ‘first things first’ which means — do what’s important first,’ said Rakesh. ‘One big reason why we are less efficient is because we spend a lot of our time doing unimportant things. So it’s very important to first figure out what's important. For example, a good woodcutter spends a lot of time sharpening his axe which is the most important thing for his efficiency. If you don’t sharpen your axe and work very hard with a blunt axe, your efficiency is bound to be low, right? Your results are all about how you handle the important things.’
‘Wow, why would we not do what’s important, bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul. ‘Doesn’t make sense.’
‘Sometimes, we may not know what is important and need to be told,’ said Rakesh. ‘Another reason could be that important things — like setting a vision, values or systems — take a long time to show results. Unlike a social media post where you can derive instant gratification from likes, working on important things produces slow and almost negligible results in the short term. It’s like going to the gym regularly. You may feel like you’ve achieved nothing worthwhile initially, but in the long term, it's important. Doing important things needs awareness and needs to be done in a clear, deliberate manner. A good leader does that.’
‘I have identified the important things for the group, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘How can I put it into practice?’
‘The Ivy Lee method addresses this,’ said Rakesh. ‘To improve your productivity, make a list of six things to do the next day — in order of importance. Next day, start at the top and do the most important thing first — not what pleases you most or is most entertaining — but what’s most important. Only after it is done, do you go to the next, the second most important and so on. Do not get distracted until your list is completed. If there are any unfinished items, carry them over to the list the next day. If you follow this method, your productivity shoots up because you are doing the most important things first. As simple as that.’
‘But how much does our productivity improve by these methods, bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul.
’Done right, 10 times at least,’ said Rakesh. ‘Once you decide what’s most important, go with its biggest vision and work towards achieving it. The amount of time and energy spent on achieving a big goal is the same that you spend on achieving a smaller goal, so go for a bigger one. That way you stretch all your resources to full capacity and you end up achieving 10x.’
‘Hmm, it appears we are not using all our resources, Rahul,’ said Rinku. ‘Let’s work towards producing great results.’
‘Yes, Rinku,’ said Rahul. ‘Let’s pick the most important tasks to be done that have the largest impact in the long term for the group and focus on doing them first. Let’s cut out all distractions and focus on our priorities.’
‘We’ve already worked on important things like vision and values,’ said Rinku. ‘Now to get other important things done like setting up processes and systems. Let’s sharpen the axe, so to say.’
‘Do that,’ said Rakesh. ‘And you will be surprised at how much you will achieve.’
Pro Tip: Leadership will be judged by concrete results so figure ways to improve productivity. Your productivity improves when you identify what is important and do that first.