Business Productivity: For Executives – Efficiency

“Accountability breeds response-ability.” — Stephen R. Covey

Once you reach the uppermost layers of management, Accountability becomes Efficiency—and as a C-Suite manager, one of your first tasks should be to implement Efficiency wherever necessary.

If you’ve made it to the C-Suite, you didn’t get there by accident. You were elevated to the position because of your demonstrated SuperCompetence in all aspects of your work life. It’s a truism that you can’t be SuperCompetent without having a highly-developed sense of Accountability; and as one of your company’s leaders, you’re a cornerstone upon which the entire organization rests. This means that you have to set the Efficiency example for your team to follow.

The buck stops with you because it has to; after all, where else can it go, when you’re sitting at the top of the heap? This being the case, all the factors that define this Key—quick, effective decision-making, accepting both credit and blame, streamlining your work processes, cracking the whip on yourself, eliminating time-wasters, everything—expand and take on more significance than ever before.

This can be an overwhelming responsibility, the maintenance of which requires a rigid and consistent level of self-discipline—the kind that got you to the C-Suite in the first place. Yes, you’ve finally arrived, but this is no time to relax! I believe that some of the more spectacular corporate implosions of recent years have been caused by the breakdown of this Key at the C-Suite level. With a relaxation of Accountability can come complacency and self-indulgence. All too often, this leads to a disregard for corporate welfare…or, worse, an assumption that what’s good for you is good for the company, the kind of “le etat, ces’t moi” thinking that brought down the French Empire back in the 18th century. It’s also one of the fast-tracks to corporate ruin.

Like all the other Keys, Accountability is a tool; and the only purpose of a tool is to be used. In addition to keeping you on the straight and narrow, this particular tool enables you to infuse Efficiency into your entire organization. Properly applied, your high level of personal Accountability can permeate your entire team, creating an organizational structure founded foremost on personal responsibility. Because that’s what it comes down to: everyone, at all levels, accepting the responsibility for getting their own work done efficiently and effectively. This means learning to implement stringent self-discipline and a tight focus, and finding ways to work around distractions and bottlenecks. Pointing fingers helps no one, because the only thing that really matters is results.

Efficiency involves tightening up everything, from the shop floor to the highest levels of management. This involves clearing out deadwood, cutting costs, streamlining paperwork, bypassing (and ultimately eliminating) clogs in the process flow, and tweaking systems until they operate as flawlessly as possible. Like Organization, Efficiency may require imposition from the top down…and if you really want it to work, you’ll have to be ruthless about it.

Don’t institute change for change’s sake, but don’t hesitate to get the ball rolling when something can and should be done. Your ultimate goal is to create a culture of Efficiency, in which your sharpest employees naturally assess systems, processes, and individual tasks, and take the initiative to be accountable for them. If you can do that, your less accountable employees will either take up the gauntlet of Efficiency…or be squeezed out by the employees who do.

These days, “Operational Efficiency” is a popular buzz-term in business circles; and while it isn’t precisely the same as C-Suite Efficiency, C-Suite Efficiency can certainly help to bring it about. If you can inculcate everyone in your organizational tree with a high level of Efficiency, you can sharpen focus on the most important aspects of your business, which can’t help but spark innovation, drive growth, and increase market share. Productivity will soar, and your organization will make a bundle—because you’re doing things that most of your competitors aren’t.

It all starts with you and your personal commitment to Accountability in all its forms, which cannot waver. If you expect to raise the flag of Efficiency over your organization, and to reap all the benefits that result, then you’ve got to lead from the front.



  1. Monday mojo says:

    […] For sales managers: Laura Stack says Once you reach the uppermost layers of management, Accountability becomes Efficiency—and as a C-Suite manager, one of your first tasks should be to implement Efficiency wherever necessary. […]