Simple and Easy are not Leadership Synonyms

Think back to your grammar school days.  Remember English class? You know, those lessons that taught us the correct parts of speech, punctuation and spelling?  One particular lesson taught the distinction between synonyms and antonyms.  Remember the difference?

  • Synonym:  a word that is similar or identical to another. Examples of synonyms are car and automobile. They are two different words with the same meaning.
  • Antonym:  a word that means the opposite of another word. For instance, the antonym of up is down.

Let’s explore the words “simple” and “easy”.  In the world of leadership, we often hear these words used interchangeably, but in reality they are quite different.  Webster defines as:

  • Simple:  Having or composed of only one thing, element, or part; not involved or complicated, and; without additions or modifications
  • Easy: Capable of being accomplished or acquired with little difficulty; requiring or exhibiting little effort; undemanding, and; free from worry, anxiety, trouble, or pain

Similar, but different.  So, what does this have to do with leadership? The secret is how we communicate.  It’s all about our approach.  Read on…

So often, we make ideas that should be “simple” way to complex.  Customer service is critical regardless of your industry.  So, if meeting [or exceeding] customers’ expectations is your goal with your team, then communicate that sentiment those simple words.  It might sounds like this:  Regardless of your position, your job is to take care of your customer.  Identify who your customer is (internal or external) and take care of them.  Period.  Your team must know the one, two or three key goals you want them to attain.  Any more than that, and priorities begin to compete.

Now the hard part.  How do you make that “simple” goal achievable?  You make it easy. A leader’s role is to remove the barriers that get in the way of reaching success.  This doesn’t mean that work requires no effort or that difficulties may arise at times. But at the end of the day, employees must believe the goal can be reached.  In smaller increments, that simple strategy has to be within reach. 

 So, in the spirit of the theme of this post, let’s ensure the message is both simple and easy.  Consider these questions for your organization:

  1. How simple is your department or organization’s top priorities?
  2. How easy is it for customers to do business with you?
  3. How easy is it for your employees to perform their job?
  4. How simple is your leadership message?

 As school children, we longed for the days when there were no more pop quizzes in school.   Who knew those pesky grammar lessons would put us to the test every day?

2 thoughts on “Simple and Easy are not Leadership Synonyms

  1. Great post! It’s critical to remember as well that something simple or easy can also be important. Too often things are trivialized when described as simple or easy, but as you demonstrated with your customer service example, that’s not always the case!
    -N.C.

    1. Thanks for your comment! Those two little words have more to them than think. Thanks for sharing.

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