Type the term “effective” into Google and your search produces 533 million results in 0.38 seconds. It seems everyone has an idea of what effective means. That’s the problem.
Over my 35-years as a management consultant and business coach to some of the world’s most successful organizations. I have witnessed many leaders struggle with a workable definition of what it means to be effective in their jobs.
For my money there is only one definition that counts. It is the first, and it remains the best.
In 1966 Peter Drucker published his landmark book, The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done.
Note the emphasis is on “the right things done”. For Drucker the true measure of a leader is the ability to get the right things done. It does not mean being efficient. Or being a stereotypical model of what a leader is supposed to look like, or how she or he is expected to behave. It means exactly what it says.
Drucker outlines eight practices of the effective executive. Key to these is the concept that effectiveness is a discipline that can be learned.
Dr. W. R. (Bill) Reddin took Drucker’s theories and turned them into practices to help leaders first learn how to be effective, and then apply the discipline of effectiveness in real world settings.
For Reddin “effectiveness” is about measurable results: “The extent to which a manager (leader) achieves the output of the job.” That’s the definition every leader needs to know and know how to implement, no matter what the job or organization.
Reddin is my mentor. I trained under Bill, and later built my consultancy and business coaching practice on the foundation of his teachings. I dedicated my career to honing Reddin’s tools and methodologies (and others aligned to them) into a suite of applications that help leaders become truly effective. The Emerson Suite is helping leaders of for-profit and not-for- profit organizations achieve results everyday.
We have seen radical changes since Drucker wrote The Effective Executive. But importantly, the leaders we work with will tell you that Reddin’s definition is even more relevant today. Precisely because of the imperative for all teams in the organization, across businesses – regardless of time zones, locations or functions – to be effective.
So, let’s make it simple. Clear away the clutter. Go back to the origins of the term. Learn the discipline of effectiveness as envisioned by Drucker and put in practice by Reddin.
When there is agreement on what effectiveness is and means, results happen.