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You Might Be an Executive and Not Even Know It
5 timeless principles for mastering effectiveness in any role
Have you ever thought of yourself as an executive?
I know, I know, you’re thinking: "Executive? Me? You've got the wrong person." But stick with me here. Peter Drucker, the grandfather of modern management thinking, had a definition of "executive" that's broader—and more applicable—than you'd think.
For Drucker, anyone making decisions that affect the performance and direction of their organization, no matter how small that effect and organization may be, is an executive.
That Social Media Manager who plans and publishes the content that influences a company's reputation and customer engagement? Executive. The HR Manager who vets job candidates and crafts policies shaping a company's culture? Executive. The solopreneur who's juggling sales, marketing, and maybe even a bit of coding? Definitely an executive. Even a Team Lead, who ensures projects get delivered on time while juggling team dynamics, is an executive in their own right.
Surprised? You shouldn't be. In the knowledge economy based on intellectual capital, more of us are "executives" than we realize. The kicker is, many of us are flying blind, not knowing the essential skills we need to rock these roles.
Drucker outlined five practices for business effectiveness - real, tangible skills to level up your work performance. And is it always goes, the oldest advice is the best advice:
1) Know your time: Master time management, strip out the fluff, and focus on what really moves the needle.
2) Know your contribution: Stop asking "What do I want to do?" Start asking "What would be the best thing I do?" Get obsessed with how you bring value to your team, your clients, your company.
3) Play to your strengths: Don't sweat on weaknesses. Understand your strengths, and put them to work. Do the same for your team. Let everyone shine where they're best. Square pegs don't fit in round holes.
4) Make big bets: Drucker was raving about the 80/20 rule long before fancy TED talks. Focus on the most critical areas instead of trying to do everything. Most results come from a fraction of the effort.
5) Make effective decisions: You've got to make calls – some tough, some easy. But that's the job. Gather the facts, weigh the options, decide, move on, and most importantly, learn from the outcome.
Drucker published The Effective Executive in 1966. But the playbook isn’t just for the suits in the Mad Men-style boardroom. It’s for all of us. Understanding that you're playing an "executive" role and having the right tools to play it well - that's how you win.