How to be an effective executive

Highly effective executive leaders come in all different shapes and sizes, with different personalities, attitudes, values, strengths and weaknesses.

However, their approach to running a profitable organisation will see them all operate within a similar framework, with the following cornerstones underpinning their success.   

Get the knowledge you need

There are the things that you want to do in an organisation, for example launching a new product to create a new market, and then there are the things that have to be done, such as getting rid of a subsidiary that is a drain on resources. Asking what the latter are in your company, and acting on them, is crucial.

The answer to the question “what needs to be done?” will almost always generate a list of such tasks. An effective executive will concentrate on the most important of these first and then, once this has been dealt with, will ask again “what must be done now?” rather than simply reverting to number two on the previously generated list.

This ensures that the true number one priority is always the item foremost in an executive’s mind. 

Write an action plan

Executives are doers; they execute. But before springing into action they need to map their course, thinking about desired results, probable restraints, future revisions and identifying review points, for example mid-way through a plan and at the end.

It’s important that the plan does not become ‘set in stone’ though and that it is revised often to take into account changes that have occurred since it was drawn up originally.

It’s also vital that the plan determines how an executive spends his or her time. There is no point meticulously creating a plan if the person tasked with the responsibility of executing it then spends their time firefighting elsewhere or dealing with ‘noise’. 

Take responsibility for actions

When they translate plans into action, executives need to pay particular attention to decision making and who is accountable for carrying it out.

It’s just as important to review decisions periodically—at a time that’s been agreed on in advance—as it is to make them carefully in the first place. That way, a poor decision can be corrected before it does real damage.

Hiring the right people is one area where a six month review of a decision is crucial to ensure that an individual is performing in the way they were expected to.

Equally, smart executives don’t make decisions in areas where they aren’t skilled enough to do so and delegate accordingly. There is no such thing as an ‘executive genius’ – everyone has their limitations!

Take responsibility for communicating

Effective executives make sure that both their action plans and their information needs are understood.

Specifically, this means that they share their plans with and ask for comments from their colleagues—superiors, subordinates, and peers. At the same time, they let each person know what information they’ll need from them to get the job done.

Focus on opportunities, not problems

Good executives focus on opportunities rather than problems. Problems have to be taken care of, of course; they must not be swept under the carpet. But problem solving, however necessary, does not produce results. It prevents damage. Exploiting opportunities produces results.

Above all, effective executives treat change as an opportunity rather than a threat. They systematically look at changes, inside and outside the operation, and ask, “How can we exploit this change as an opportunity for our enterprise?”

Here at Elevation we understand what it takes to be an effective executive. We are an integrated Group of multi-disciplined recruitment specialists, and our recruitment consultants are reliable, long serving and trusted.

Our recruitment consultants are trained to conduct competency-based interviews, ensuring that together, the recruiter and the candidate can identify strengths and weaknesses to help prepare a candidate for that all-important interview.

If you are an individual looking to change roles and are unsure of how to make your first move, and wish to discuss how the Elevation Recruitment Group can assist your search and help you to take your career to the next level, please contact us today. 

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