Personal Effectiveness: Own it to Succeed!

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Shalu Manan

Vice President, Learning Development (Lean Digital, Design Thinking, CFO Services and Consulting)

May 22, 2017 - Over the years, much has been written about success and its anatomy. For me, when I think about my personal journey of successes and failures, one thing clearly stands out. Assuming that you are an expert in your chosen domain and you have clarity of goals, there is one differentiating factor that separates high achievers from average performers  - and that is ‘Personal Effectiveness’.  

Many people have talked and written about personal effectiveness, and given the rather dynamic and disruptive world we work in, I think all of us need to define for ourselves what it truly means.  For me, it is a combination of what you bring to the party, be it a specialization in an area you love, or a way with numbers or great oratory skills, and that something extra, that ability to not just get the job done – but to get the job done better than it could ever be done.

For me, personal effectiveness has four components. 


I’m talking about end-to-end ownership – knowing and owning everything that’s happening on a job, both upstream and down-stream, and understanding how doing or not doing something can impact the results. It means understanding the stated and unstated expectations, what your stakeholders tell you they want – as well as what they don’t spell out for you but expect from you all the same! It also means being result-oriented – or totally focused on the outcomes you want to achieve by the work you take on yourself.


Are you quick, efficient, haphazard? Speed is extremely important, but speed has to be tempered with purpose. Be focused on why you are doing the job and how you are reaching your end goal. You may be the quickest to scale a ladder, but if that ladder is on the wrong wall, then you achieve nothing. It’s like making a perfect landing at the wrong airport! The same is true of perfection - you may have been quick and you may have got where you want to, but along the way if the quality of your output is sub-optimal, there is no point in it all. So learn to balance speed, purpose and perfection when it comes to execution and you will be yet another step closer to achieving personal effectiveness.


In the current environment, risk assessment and mitigation are crucial to success. I always say – hope for the best, but expect the worst. And always have a Plan B. You have to preempt challenges or ‘failure-modes’ and have ideas to avoid or survive them – at all times. Establish consistent and proactive communication with your client or stakeholder. Don’t wait for information to come to you – seek it out. Push your agenda single-mindedly and aggressively. And most importantly, learn how to multi-task. Multi-tasking is all about prioritizing but with a pivot to get things done and not to get distracted. Focus on those tasks that affect the critical-path of a commitment you made. Have the discipline and the rigor to communicate, assess failure modes and multi-task to resolve challenges proactively. 

Personal Effectiveness


Learning Agility

If you’re not learning, you’re dead. That’s the truth. You need to constantly challenge yourself, learn new things and stay relevant to the world we live in. Demonstrate a curious, open mind and question the universe relentlessly and with humility. Explore unchartered territories and fear nothing. Learn to accept ambiguity and be resilient to change, as change is the only constant around! But - keep in mind that you need to balance everything out with what I call an ROI Mindset. At any given point of time, you must know why you are doing something and how it is going to benefit the job you are doing. Learn to say no to things that are holding you back or wasting your time or distracting you from achieving the outcomes you signed up for.

In my view, personal effectiveness is not just a habit you acquire - it’s a way of life that you need to own. Own it - and you’ll see how much more efficiently and effectively you work and succeed. Because that’s really what it’s all about: You – being the best and most effective you can be! Good luck!