To be effective is the job of the executive. Whether he works in a business or in a hospital, in a government agency or in a labour union, in a university or in the army, the executive is expected to get the right things done. He is expected to be effective.
The realities of an executive’s situation both demand effectiveness from him and make effectiveness exceedingly difficult too achieve. Indeed, unless executives work at becoming effective, the realities of their situation will make their efforts futile.
There are four hurdles which stand in the way of an executive’s effectiveness.
a) The executive’s time tends to belong to others who can encroach on his time.
b) Executives are forced to keep on ‘operating’ unless they take positive action to change the reality in which they live and work.
c) The executive is within an organization. He is effective only if and when other people make use of what he contributes.
d) The executive sees the outside only through thick and distorting lenses, if at all. What goes on outside is usually not even known firsthand. This is unfortunate because there are no results within the organization. All the results are outside. What happens inside any organization is effort and cost.
Effectiveness, is a habit, that must be developed by practice.
Five habits of the mind are needed to be an effective executive:
a) Effective executives know where their time goes. They work systematically at managing the little of their time that can be brought under their control.
b) Effective executives focus on outward contribution. They direct their efforts to results rather than to work. They are more concerned with the results rather than with the work to be done.
c) Effective executives build on strengths – their own strengths, the strengths of their superiors, colleagues, and sub-ordinates; and the strengths of the situation, that is, on what they can do. They do not build on weakness.
d) Effective executives concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results. They are good at setting priorities. They know that they have no choice but to do first things first – and second things not at all.
e) Effective executives, finally, make effective decisions. They know that an effective decision is always a judgment based on dissenting opinions rather than by consensus. And they know that to make many decisions fast means to make the wrong decisions. They make a few, but fundamental decisions in a systematic way.
Effective executives do not start with their tasks. They start with their time. They find out where their time actually goes. Then they attempt to manage their time and to cut back unproductive demands on their time. Finally they consolidate their “discretionary” time into the largest possible units.
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