To be one or the other...it's a simple choice. Just remember, whichever you choose, has a ripple effect. What's yours?
"...after years of observation and working with a volume of diverse leaders in a variety of corporate structures - non-profits, government as well as traditional c-suite, effective executive leadership as incredibly valuable and equally rare."
- Peter Drucker
In my view, an exceptional leader then...is a highly effective leader...which an average leader is not.
Why Is It Rare?
Here's the main reason it's rare - it's not a mainstream, prioritized, promoted leadership criteria. And yet, the father of modern day management Peter Drucker says it's the #1 most important and deserves first level focus. And...that's pretty logical since the main reason why someone is a leader is to get expected results.
If fact, if you were to ask the general "leadership training and development community" to answer these 2 questions...
1. "What does it mean to be effective?"
2. "What's the #1 most important quality leaders, particularly executive, senior leaders should possess?
I guarantee you... for question #1 - there would be a variety of answers and for #2 - effectiveness would not be the top answer...not even remotely. I know. I've facilitated 1000s of leadership workshops throughout North American for many years and rarely has anyone said "effectiveness".
I see this then, as a bit of a crisis and needs gap in the leadership development industry.
So What Does it Mean to Be Effective?
Simply put, it's achieving needed results. Notice I didn't say results...but needed, intended, most meaningful, most important results.
And this highlights an important point. To be effective you must be clear on what the most important results are and then, do what's necessary to realize them, which he defined as a set of strategic practices called "disciplines."
In the book The Effective Executive, Mr. Drucker defines - through principles and practices - what he's observed is required to be effective. The following list is my compilation of his list and (through my 22 plus years in the industry) mine.
1. You know where you're going - you're clear on results based on these qualifying questions:
- What are the essential, top priority needs? - What needs to be done?
- What's best or right for the enterprise?
2. I see my responsibility not just at the top of the organization, but throughout and therefore work to affect needed results throughout the entire organization
- I don't assume, but ensure this is happening
- I communicate/have the communication mechanisms in place that achieves this (for example different types of productive, disciplined meetings)
- I do a lot of asking and listening to mitigate blind spots and avoid costly blind-siding
- I have the tools in place to detect when this occurs - I keep learning where my impact stops or is being hampered.
- I am the master of follow-up - there is built into my leadership expected accountability and responsibility demonstrated first by me.
3. I leverage all strengths, capabilities available.
Know the answer to these questions:
- In the context of what's most important, what do I do best?
- What do others do best?
- Do I expect and cultivate effective leader/mangers and teams?
- Do I work from a mindset of we vs. I?
4. I have an action plan that aligns my daily and weekly actions, activities and decisions in a way that reflects all of the above; particular top priorities.
- I create and use strategic action plans
- I understand and utilize time accordingly - I see time as a highly valuable and finite resource.
- I use it to gauge decision-making and the reality of my actions
5. I leverage every opportunity for improvement by being systematic in how I assess my activity & results and those of others.
- I consistently tweak and improve my actions to improve achieving best results
- I know action brings clarity and attracts opportunity
- I have a mindset of opportunity vs. problems.
I invite you to use this as your own checklist - a quick assessment if you will to discover opportunities of improvement or that of your leadership team.
I'll close with this profound insight shared in a previous post: Drucker emphasizes that a leader can have good qualities, have certain, even important skills and relevant knowledge and yet not be able to translate them into meaningful results.
If you feel this is an area you want to devote some time and attention, consider working with us. You can learn more about our 60 day short-cycle development opportunity here.