|Are You An "Effective Executive?"|
|Ron Stephen, LFACHE, Adjunct Faculty, Wichita State University|
Of course you are, aren’t you? After all, you are a proud Member or Fellow in the prestigious American College of Healthcare Executives; you hold a position of responsibility in your organization; and you are highly respected by your peers, subordinates and superiors. Plus, you studied the fine points of management vs. leadership in school, so you should have it all together. Just to be sure, let’s review the highlights of Peter Drucker’s article “What Makes an Effective Executive?” published in the Harvard Business Review in 2004 and reprinted in “HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership” by Harvard Business Review Press in 2011. You can judge yourself. Remember, not everyone sees you as you see yourself.
Drucker suggests that effective executives follow eight practices. First, effective executives ask “What needs to be done?” Then they focus on one or two priorities. Even the most successful executives can only accomplish one or at the most two major tasks at a time. And do what you are best at. Delegate the other stuff. How many projects are competing for your attention today? Second, focus on what is best “for the enterprise,” not what is right for the medical staff, the patients, the employees or the executives. If it is right for the enterprise, it will be right for the stakeholders. How often do we favor one group in a decision, and then have to go back and make amends to the others?
Drucker’s next four practices of an effective executive focus on implementing your ideas in your organization. Do you routinely develop an action plan for what you wish to accomplish? Before starting a project, are you clear as to the expectations, the time lines and the resources? Can you commit to the project? Do you take responsibility for your decisions by clearly delineating the time lines, who is responsible, who must be informed and who must approve? Do you review your decisions periodically? Do you personally take responsibility for communicating your action plans with superiors, peers and subordinates? And finally, do you focus on opportunities rather than problems? Drucker says problem-solving is damage control; it’s opportunities that produce results.
The last two practices focus on accountability. Are the meetings you organize productive or are they “garbage cans” for people to socialize? Do you have an agenda, start on time and end when business is complete? Or do your meetings drag on because everything’s been said; just everyone hasn’t said it yet? Finally, do you think and say “We, not I?" Do you always consider the organization’s needs before yours?
It is so easy to become mired in the daily business of polishing the silver and reading the emails. Are you the “Keeper of the Vision” in your organization?