Peter Drucker’s Harvard Business Review article “What Makes an Effective Executive” (2004) provided a different approach to leadership. There are countless resources on leadership and most seem to be about the personal characteristics of the individual. It may highlight intelligence, emotional intelligence, charisma, experience and so forth, but this article takes a systematic approach.
Drucker notes that effective executives can fit within many molds. This is something I have noticed and as you read about more successful leaders, there are often clashes in approaches, yet for that person in their context, it seems to produce results. Drucker proposes that the effective executive can be so because of his systematic approach.
According to Drucker, there are 8 practices they follow:
“They asked, “what needs to be done?”
“They asked, “what is right for the enterprise?”
“They developed action plans.”
“They took responsibility for decisions.”
“They took responsibility for communicating.”
“They were focused on opportunities rather than problems.”
“They ran productive meetings.”
“They thought and said “we” rather than “I”.”
What needs to be done given a specific purpose of what actions are needed. The best leaders can then determine what they are most effective at and give their attention to those couple items while delegating others.
What is right for the enterprise will drive overall success that enables profits for shareholders as there is trust within the organization.
Action plans refer to getting things done with given knowledge and resources. Planning and being willing to move forward with the plan can make progress.
Decisions must be made, sometimes they are not the easiest but it must be done. One example pointed out is decisions within personnel. Potentially only one-third of hires or promotions are effective. The leader must acknowledge if they have made an incorrect decision if it is not working as needed and remove the person from the job. For promotions, it would be good to offer them their old job which adds security and willingness to try for other people.
Communicating is the combination of listening and speaking clearly. Being purposeful with memos but also willing to listen to others. This may mean polling employees about possible opportunities and high caliber workers.
Opportunities can lead to growth whereas problem-solving is a game of catch up. Looking to identify opportunities first can make the company proactive.
Productive meetings are simple yet rarely attained. Putting out an agenda and having a plan for which type of interaction will be permitted within the allotted time frame. Working to keep the meeting as such and end on time.
We thinking is a team mentality, listening to other members of the organization. This is different than the domineering personality that is always striving to push their agenda.
While this is simply an overview of the article and one of the many works Peter Drucker has produced over his career I think the approach is refreshing. In my leadership roles, I strive to identify areas where a systematic process can be integrated. This is a key for me as it allows for efficiency and effectiveness.
As humans, we are only able effectively to give our attention to limited stimuli. By creating processes, we eliminate the need to remember simple steps that could be forgotten due to human error. Since the cognitive load is lower without these steps, they can focus on more important opportunities which make the organization thrive and are more enjoyable to them.
Taking this principle and using it within as a leader seems as if it would be obvious, yet I had not done so in such a manner. The first step is awareness and now it is time for implementation with the understanding I may adjust as necessary to be effective.