There’s a reason you are a member of your organization’s top management: you get results. But like most executives, you’re always trying to raise the bar. Your company’s competition isn’t resting and neither can you.
But being an effective leader isn’t just about what you do. It’s also about your team and the people you surround yourself with. In his classic The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker notes the habits of effective executives. Here is my abbreviated take on his excellent book.
• Hire the right team. Effective leaders breed the best staff. When you hire the best, they make you look good and perform at peak levels. But top employees don’t always demonstrate excellence in every area of your business. Rather, they exhibit a few exceptional qualities that make them indispensable on key projects. Keep this in mind as you hunt for, hire, and train your staff.
• Set goals, but make them SMART. According to Robert Brault, “The shortest distance between two points assumes you know where you’re going.” You want to increase revenue? Great! Make sure you not only know where you’re going but that you also know when you’ve arrived. A goal must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. By how much will you increase revenue? How will you measure it? Is your team or organization capable of reaching this goal with the resources at your disposal? Is your goal relevant to the overall mission of your organization? When do you expect to have reached your goal?
• Inspire others. Setting goals is important, but it’s not inspiring to your employees. What’s in it for them? Increasing sales by record numbers is great for business, but what employees find truly inspiring is security and benefits. Let your staff know what’s in it for them if the company’s sales goal is met. You will inspire them to meet and exceed that goal.
• Manage time. Truth be told, executives don’t always give their use of time a fair assessment. If you’re finding yourself not accomplishing as much as typical, keep a log of how you use your time. Often you will find you are involved in activities which have no results. Or you’re using your time doing things that can be better accomplished by someone else. If something doesn’t affect change and your bottom line, consider eliminating it from your to-do list.
• Involve employees. Being an executive is about leading a team, and “team” lacks that key word “I.” If the right members are on the team, then everyone contributed to achieve your goal. While you have the ultimate responsibility to your organization, be sure that credit is given where it is due and that the needs of the organization are placed above your own.
While leaders come in all shapes, sizes and personalities, one thing they do share is the desire to help their organization succeed. For some, the actions to drive this success come easy; others may have to work at it a little bit harder. But, like most things in life, taking the time and energy to do it right will reap countless rewards in the future.