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There’s a 90 percent chance you’re ineffective

There’s been a lot of talk about “1 Percenters” in political circles.

In business, the focus is on the “10 Percenters” after a study by European academics Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal revealed that only about 10 percent of managers take “decisive purposeful action” when necessary.

The remainder were busy, but not very effective: 40 percent were energetic but unfocused; 30 percent had low energy, little focus and tended to procrastinate; and 10 percent were focused, but not very energetic.

“No doubt, executives are under incredible pressure to perform, and they have far too much to do, even when they work 12-hour days. But the fact is, very few managers use their time as effectively as they could,” the authors write.

Commenting online on CBS Money Watch, business writer Margaret Heffernan said, “What all of this suggests is that we waste most of the human resources we hire. Leadership is about galvanizing this potential and getting it to move effectively in the right direction.”

Only about 10 percent of managers take “decisive purposeful action” when necessary.

Heffernan says the 40 percent who are energetic but unfocused are the ones you have to work on. “They want to do useful work and are up for the challenge. They just don’t know where to start or how to prioritize.” She argues that unfocused strategy is rarely the fault of the individual. Rather, it’s an indication that your strategy isn’t sufficiently understood or being translated into goals.

Bruch and Ghoshal state that in most organizations, the ordinary routines of business chug along without much managerial oversight. “The job of managers, therefore, is to make the business do more than chug - to move it forward in innovative, surprising ways.”

After observing scores of managers for many years, they came to the conclusion that managers who take effective action — those who make seemingly impossible things happen — rely on a combination of two traits: focus and energy.

Bruch’s and Ghoshal’s conclusions come from studying the behavior of busy managers in nearly a dozen large companies over a 10-year span, including Sony, LG Electronics and Lufthansa. That fact begs the question (that goes unanswered), are managers at small or even medium-sized companies more efficient and effective?