8 Ways to Become an Effective Executive

compass-plannerWorking  your way up the ladder? Here’s a quick list of Peter Drucker’s eight practices by effective executives from his book, The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials). Take one or all of these plays out of the effective executives playbook by following eight practices:

  1. What needs to be done?: a key to effectiveness is to work on one or two tasks at a time. Even two tasks is pushing it. It’s not “What do I want to do,” but what needs to be done.
  2. What is right for the enterprise?: while it’s easy to get distracted by personal projects, one should always use the company’s vision, company’s goals and objectives, and department’s goals and objectives as a compass in day-to-day work.
  3. They develop action plans: I never met an action plan I didn’t like. Action plans help you structure your tasks, identify deadlines, and track/measure results. More importantly, it allows you to communicate to your boss how effective you really are.
  4. They took responsibility for decisions: I’ve learned that the buck stops with you. You may have dependencies on other people, but if it’s your project, it’s your work, it’s your results. Period. You must take responsibility.
  5. They took responsibility for communicating: most workers aren’t comfortable sticking their necks out and communicating. However, effective workers do communicate letting team mates, other departmental peers, and their boss and other stakeholders know what’s going on.
  6. They were focused on opportunities rather than problems: no one wants to hear about problems without solutions; it’s passive and unproductive. If you encounter a problem, identify where there are opportunities to correct what you’ve identified as a problem, and present both at the same time. Managers and leaders don’t want to know about problems alone. They want to know what your solution is for the problem in the same breath. If the sky is falling, then your boss wants to know scenarios on how to fix it and your recommendation out of the scenarios for fixing the sky from falling.
  7. They ran productive meetings: most workers hate meetings. However, if meetings have an agenda and are properly managed with actionable take-aways, then it’s a productive meeting. Of course, there are several types of meetings such as informational ones that are very different from project meetings. Regardless of type, always have an agenda and value other people’s time.
  8. They thought and said “we” rather than “I.”: work is a team sport. While it’s tempting to think about how a project is good for your career moves within your company. You’re success is still dependent of working with others. To be effective, you need to distance yourself from thinking about only your career, but you department, your peers, your executive team, and company.

While these eight simple practices seem obvious, it’s easy to forget about common sense in our day-to-day work environment when work gets too hurried and all you’re doing is reacting to things. If Drucker’s eight practices become habits, then it’s second nature for you. You’ll be an effective worker/executive sooner versus later.