8 Practices That Make an Effective CEO | Stepshift

8 Practices That Make an Effective CEO

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

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I recently came across a Harvard Business Review magazine article by Peter Drucker entitled ‘What Makes an Effective Executive?‘ If you are a CEO or a member of an executive team it provides an outline of what makes an effective executive and confirms that they follow the same eight practices. If you are a CEO or aspiring executive it might be useful to reflect on these practices and ask which you believe you do well and which might need improvement.

While there is not room to outline the whole article the introduction provides a good summary and is outlined below:

“An effective executive does not need to be a leader in the sense that the term is now most commonly used. Harry Truman did not have one ounce of charisma, for example, yet he was among the most effective chief executives in U.S. history. Similarly, some of the best business and nonprofit CEOs I’ve worked with over a 65-year consulting career were not stereotypical leaders. They were all over the map in terms of their personalities, attitudes, values, strengths, and weaknesses. They ranged from extroverted to nearly reclusive, from easygoing to controlling, from generous to parsimonious.

What made them all effective is that they followed the same eight practices:

  1. They asked, “What needs to be done?”
  2. They asked, “What is right for the enterprise?
  3. They developed action plans
  4. They took responsibility for decisions
  5. They took responsibility for communicating
  6. They were focused on opportunities rather than problems
  7. They ran productive meetings
  8. They thought and said “we” rather than “I”

The first two practices gave them the knowledge they needed. The next four helped them convert this knowledge into effective action. The last two ensured that the whole organization felt responsible and accountable.”

If you have reflected on these practices and believe you can be a more effective executive or CEO by addressing some of them get in touch to find out how we can help.



Lynn Humphrey is a Partner at Stepshift, helping New Zealand business leaders to get the best from themselves and the people they lead through executive coaching, leadership development and business consulting.

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