Leadership

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!

john

Leadership Coach

About

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, 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...

14 comments
tp79_tp
tp79_tp

Hi Your writeup have become my greatest source of inspiration of recent. I have really heard people describing some leaders as frustrated leaders and i have been address in such a way many times. My candid observation was that those who make such comment about me are not doing so because I acted or make comment that show sign of frustration, but are rather making such comment because they are trying to get me frustrated. Most of the time, superior that are suppose to create value for my effort turn up acting to frustrate such effort, only to turn out and describe me as frustrated.I have never felt frustrated because i have other things doing that are really giving me value for my effort, I see this action as a good reason to quit an organization and i have done that already. What do you thing about this. Tosin Paul.

mithleshkimail
mithleshkimail

Hi John, I like your article but one thing I would like to offend. Whatever you have written about the girls shouldn't be written in this way. We must respect girls as they are the one who have made this world revolving. Despite the fact of research has been taken place. I am sure you will take this advise else all of your best efforts vanish out. Best Regards, Mithlesh Kaushik Manager Network and Telecom.

dra
dra

Peter Drucker on TIME. I understand that only too well. I was a student of Peters' at The Claremont Graduate School. The only A+ that I received there was from Peter Drucker for this course in Strategic Management. Peter also gave me a good recommendation for my doctoral program. AH PhD.

jamieft
jamieft

John, you've posted some of the most sexist remarks I've seen in a long time, and I've never seen anything this crude in Tech Republic before. I'm not a female, but I do have eight women on my team, and I'm offended for them based on your comments. You have 9 points, and two are geared solely to women (act like a lady, and it takes the longer to hear messages made by the "gals"). I want you to substitute "black" in place of "women" and "white" in place of "men". You'd NEVER do that, would you? Then why is it OK to put women IT leaders down in the condescending way that you did? Shame on you!

KJQ
KJQ

Your initial poll was misleading because it asked about "getting things done" (i.e. efficiency) rather than "getting things done well" (i.e. effectiveness). John's ideas are mostly ways to improve the latter but some will worsen the former. For example, going to others offices for meetings and meeting with users as often as possible eat up huge amounts of my time. Time not then available for accomplishing other tasks. This is where the political benefit may outweigh the need for efficiency. I need to get a lot done but also need credibility and some visibility in order to remain effective as an IT manager, not to mention my share of the budget. If I'm super efficient but never seen, I don't get the budget I need and don't get thought of when important decisions need to be made. On the other hand, I could spend all day every day in meetings and face-to-face conversations but then I'd never get any project completed. It's a delicate balancing act.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Unless you have a chauffeur, you'd better be devoting 90% or more of your attention to the act of driving. No cell phones. No iPod. No Blackberry. No netbook, tablet, laptop, or other computing device. No trade magazines, business reports, or scribbling on your notepad with a pen. Keep both your damn hands on the steering wheel of the vehicle and your eyes on the road while the vehicle is in motion. If you're stopped, then fine, play with your dohickies. That doesn't mean you can't listen to an audio track of some kind. People listen to the radio all the time without degradation of vehicle operation safety. However, it's in the act of changing channels, when your attention, and even viewpoint, is focused on the dial on dash, and not on the road, that people have the most "radio/stereo" accidents. If you're doing work while driving; then in the long run you are not improving your time management. You WILL have an accident. And I don't care if you're making as much per minute as Bill Gates, if you're involved in a vehicle accident, you've just lost all of that "advantage", plus some. Now parking your car in a getaway position is a good tip. Here is an embellishment on that. If you aren't going to be the first person out of the function, park outside of the designated area. Most lots have choke points where, depending on the size of the function, it can take as much as an hour to clear through. Parking outside may mean a longer walk, and a higher parking fee; but you avoid the bottleneck. *** Dr_Zinj has been a statistical analyst and accident investigator in the tranportation field for over 2 decades ***

odroichid
odroichid

If you're inclined to shoot the breeze as part of your phone style...strat ending your own phone calls. It may seem a little bizarre, but if you've heard all you need to hear and understand - and I stress that you HAVE HEARD AND HAVE BEEN LISTENING - drop the line when YOU are talking. If there is missing information, the other party will ring back. If there isn't, they have been spared the bother of telling you they have to go (;-)

CareerCoach
CareerCoach

Fewer human and financial resources can slow us down.

Fairbs
Fairbs

I would agree that point nines title is a little sexist, but other than that don't find a problem. He indicates studies that back his points. It's not sexist to suggest that there are differences between men and women. Some of them are fairly obvious. In general, I think we've become overly PC as a society. If the intent is to injure then yes we should stop that. If it's because someone uses an antiquated term such as gal and gets a bunch of grief then I think we're being overly sensitive.

floppydisk
floppydisk

I like your example. An old boss of mine constantly explained the difference to all his direct reports. Doing something right - efficiency Doing the right thing - effectiveness

ronaldwwoods
ronaldwwoods

You got it backwards: Effective means that something works. Efficient means that something works well - i.e., that it both works and consumes the fewest resources in the process. For example, driving a gas-guzzling SUV to the store is an effective way of getting to the store, but it is not an efficient way of doing so.

KJQ
KJQ

Thank you Dr. Zinj! I'm actually getting scared to drive to work because of the number of 'near misses' I've had by people driving through stop signs and red lights while completely 'zoned out' on the cell phones or answering emails on their Blackberrys. Even in traffic my commute time is a chance to mentally prepare for work or 'deflate' and disconnect from work while heading home. With so few other legitimate 'excuses' for not working, driving is one we need to keep.

cnantes
cnantes

...but, really, unless you work from home, you can't explain a 20 minute nap to co-workers and bosses if they catch you. I guess we could email your article to them and hope for the best?

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