By Michael Holland

A seasoned Senior Vice President appears to have it all together.  He glides through the office with ease, almost strutting with an aura of success and accomplishment.  He drives projects to conclusion, he musters employees and whole departments to give more and more work effort.  He leaves late in the evening, piloting his BMW 750i swiftly out of the parking lot.  He’s put in his 12 hours and accomplished much.  Or has he?

There’s a huge difference between getting things done and being effective.  The famed management expert Peter Drucker had a lot to say about that gap which exists for most executives.  He believed that being effective is a habit which must be practiced to become ingrained in our lives.

Here are his five habits to be a truly effective leader.

  1. Know Where Your Time Goes – Effective leaders have measured their activities to know where their time goes, to whom and for what reasons so that they can best invest their discretionary time, that time they can actually control.  Do you know where your time goes during each day?  What work are you actually performing? And for how long? (Use this guide to assess how you prioritize your time based on importance and urgency.)
  2. Focus on What Results are Expected Rather Than Work to be Done – All leaders give effort, working hard to accomplish something.  Effective leaders focus keenly on the results and not on the effort.  They ask the question “what can I contribute?” versus “what can I do?
  3. Build on Strengths – Effective leaders leverage their strengths, the strengths of their team, their key players, and their colleagues.  They form teams around talents.  Abraham Lincoln famously recruited his former rivals to join his cabinet and built the team of rivals into a highly productive and critically acclaimed leadership team.
  4. Concentrate on Doing First Things First – Effective leaders know their priorities and concentrate deeply on doing one thing at a time with the limited discretionary time they have.  They gain tremendous leverage with all their capabilities focused keenly on the priority.
  5. Make Effective Decisions – Any fool can make lots of decisions.  Effective leaders make extreme judgment calls which are not born of consensus.  Per Drucker, “The understanding that underlies the right decision grows out of the clash and conflict of divergent opinions and out of the serious consideration of competing alternatives.”  Effective leaders enable an environment to bear out effective decision making.

Increasing your effectiveness as a leader is the only true area you can own and hopefully raise the level of personal performance and satisfaction.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Do you feel “effective” in your role?  Or just surviving?
  • Of the five habits, which would be the hardest for you to implement in your leadership role?  Why?
  • Do you know where your time goes?  Write down your perception on a piece of paper and place it in an envelope.  Track your time for 7 business days, analyze it and then compare the results.
  • Invest in a 360 degree feedback survey to gain insight on those leadership behaviors which may yield the most leverage for you within your current environment.