9 favorite tips to improve your effectiveness as a leader

With fewer resources, many leaders realize that their performance has gone downhill. In this article, leadership coach John M. McKee shares time-tested tips that any leader can use to to improve his or her effectiveness.

Time is the greatest resource, and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed." - Peter F. Drucker, widely regarded as America's premier leadership guru and management consultant.

Getting more done, while at the same time using fewer resources, can be one of business life's greatest challenges. I hear all the time from frustrated leaders and managers who tell me that things are getting worse; but before you quit trying, take this poll and then check out my top nine tips.

1. Go to other people's offices for meetings. It's a lot easier to leave their office than it is to get them out of yours, and you don't have to waste time afterward.  This approach also increases your visibility with others while you're on the move - and you may learn something in passing. 2.  Encourage a "masculine" vs. "feminine" communication style.  Scientists like Loann Brezendine have proven what others have long observed: men think to talk and women talk to think. Consequently, in meetings, it takes less time to hear the recommendations made by the guys as opposed to the gals.  Tell your team to make recommendations that are limited to two or three sentences. Then if you like the idea, decide if you need any more information. This will help everyone to be more succinct. 3. As often as possible, meet with users, clients, or customers. I realize this is a big time demand, but what you hear first-hand from those being served by your organization can be startling and exciting.  If you're worried about hurting a subordinate's feelings, take them with you, but make it clear that you're going to ask and talk a lot. 4.  Snooze. According to the latest studies from Pew Research, having a mid-day nap of just 20 minutes in duration can improve mood, altertness, and performance.  Next time you find yourself reaching for a coffee or a Red Bull to boost your energy, try this first.  As a Wellness Advisor for Tempur-Pedic, I know that most people underestimate the benefits of sleep.  This can be a game changer. 5. Use a smart car. It's amazing how much time we waste in the car. Improve your time management by:
  • Parking your car in a getaway position.  At business meetings, restaurants, movie theaters, sports games, the mall.  A little pre-planning makes a big time difference. Good for the blood pressure too.
  • Join the U of A.  That stands for University of Automobile. If you spend time commuting or traveling between meetings, use audio books to hone your skills and keep current on new thinking. The term came from Zig Ziglar, a guy who knows performance issues.
6. Review tomorrow's calendar the night before. After a long day you're likely to be more hard-nosed about time requests.  The next day, just before you go for lunch, revisit your afternoon schedule again.  Your day's priorities may shift many days, but there will usually be one or two very important, must-do issues to be completed and this close management of your time will help keep your eye on the ball. 7.  Use praise to reinforce crispness. In your meetings, make it abundantly clear that you appreciate those who are aware of how valuable your time is. You want attendees to be crisp, concise, and alert so the meeting will be effective as well as efficient. Conversely -if someone is a time hog, tell them so. I don't mean you have to be ugly about this, but great leaders ensure that those around them are aware of their needs and objectives. 8.  Use that smart phone in a smarter way.  If you aren't regularly using the recording feature on your phone, start now. We all experience moments of brilliance, and when they occur, you want to make the most of them. Never miss an opportunity to make verbal notes for use later. Trying to recall them afterward is frustrating and can cost you a lost idea.  Another approach is to call the office and leave yourself a voicemail. 9. Act like a lady. Women, intuitively, are less top-down in their management styles than are men. Social scientists have a whole raft of reasons for this style difference and it may start when we're children. Studies of youngsters show that girls often prefer games in which everyone leaves a winner, while boys are more inclined toward a winner-take-all approach. Whatever the reason behind it, when working with senior executive women, I often see that they are more likely to be egalitarian when looking for new ideas and approaches. This style works.

Here's to your future!


Leadership Coach


John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

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