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Organize Work for effectiveness

Workshop Statistics - Leadership

– Article by P Seenivasan PMP, PgMP, PfMP

Week 8 on “Leadership coaching from Peter F Drucker”

In this lesson of Peter Drucker’s leadership coaching, we shall look at “organizing our work for effectiveness” with a new perspective.

Every executive knows that time is a limiting factor or a constraint for effectiveness. We all are given fixed quantity of time (months, weeks, days and hours/day). Time with respect to ‘past’ is history, ‘present’ cannot be stored for the future and availability of ‘future’ time is uncertain.

Empirical evidence and common practice confirm that multitasking reduces our overall effectiveness. What is the solution to using this limiting factor most effectively?

Perspective 1: Cut the pattern to fit the cloth.

New opportunities will keep coming. If we want to accept them, we should learn to delegate some of the present responsibilities, prioritize and choose new opportunities. If we continue to add them without any due diligence, it will jeopardize our effectiveness, or our wellbeing.

Here is an experience from Andy Grove, one of the Founding Member of Intel:

Peter Drucker asked Andy Grove, “How did you go about developing yourself?”

Andy Grove’s answer: “I put my nose into a new opportunity, I spend some amount of time, and  when I realize  that I am putting pressure on my time,  I begin to scan what I am doing, and/or participate and see what can be delegated to my subordinates,  which activities  can be done at a lesser frequency and what can be stopped, and filter out what I should continue doing. I keep negotiating with myself”.

Perspective 2: Role of Executives:

The specific executive tasks are: setting standards, objectives, organizing, motivating, communicating, measuring performance, giving feedback and developing people. Additional operational tasks are taking care of the organization’s most important customers, recognizing the long-term serving employees, and negotiating important deals. Though some of these are purely ceremonial, still they must be done well and usually cannot be delegated.

Perspective 3: Be not afraid of strong followers:

Successful executives are not afraid of strong subordinates because strong subordinates help to fulfil leader’s responsibilities.  Abraham Lincoln selected four of his opponents ( the Republicans  nominees for President) to be his Cabinet members based on their qualification, experience – whom Lincoln considered to be more qualified than himself.

As an executive, you take the ultimate responsibility for the success of the endeavour as well as for the mistakes and consequences. Hence strong subordinates help in achieving your goals, objectives, and responsibilities.

Perspective 4: Executives Vs. Professionals

One common mistake many executives commit is to abandon their ‘professional’ activities as they climb the executive ladder. This will result in losing their skills fast and that will also result in lose their leadership effectiveness, because they’ll no longer be able to be role models, coach, and mentors. They become mere administrators.

Perspective 5: Not enough Generals were killed!

This caption may look absurd and is also a paradox! However, according to Peter Drucker, if an executive does not wear the hat of a ‘professional’ and be part of the battle front, no General will be killed. So also, the outcome of the battle will be – “a lost battle”. The essence of this theme is that- leadership is not about just being a rank, or a title or a privilege or power but about responsibility and accountability.

Practical Prompts

  • Are demands on you growing faster than what your time allows?
  • How do you cut the pattern of your work to fit the cloth of the available time?
  • Do you regularly delegate responsibility and abandon non-value added activities, reduce the frequency of meetings etc.,
  • Do you put pressure on your time or, on people and tasks?
  • Do you select strong subordinates to work with?
  • Do you consider humility as a personality trait in achieving executive excellence or as a weakness that creates an inferiority complex?

Work on the items that need to be improved or needs to be strengthened! Have a great festive weekend! Let us keep walking together and see you next week.

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