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The 5 Habits of Effective Executives
by Duncan Brodie

The role of an executive is highly demanding. When you are further down the hierarchy it can seem like life as an executive is all about visioning, leading and lunches. Yet in truth the best executives are highly effective. If you are already an executive are you already employing the 5 habits? If you aspire to be an executive, what habits do you need to start developing now?

Habit # 1: Know where their time goes

The first habit of the most effective executives is that they have absolute clarity on where their time goes.

The first stage in knowing where your time goes is to start recording where your time goes. A useful way of doing this is to split your day into 15 or 30 minute blocks and record what you are doing over a two or three week period.

The next stage is to start managing your time so that you are directing your efforts to those things that matter.

The final stage is to start to look at consolidating activities such as e-mails or phone calls so that you gain momentum and use blocks of time efficiently.

Habit # 2: Focus on results rather than work

In the earlier stage of our careers we tend to have lots of tasks to be completed and so we become focussed on volume of outputs. As we move up the ladder, we move from being highly task focussed to more managing and leading. When effective executives make this move they recognise that it is the results that matter, not volume. You are probably familiar with the principle that 20% of your activity produces 80% of your results.

What 20% produces 80% of your results?

Habit # 3: Build on strengths

Have you ever been handed a document that highlights 8 things you have done exceptionally well and 2 you need to improve? If so chances are you turned all of your attention to the 20% that needs improvement. The effective executive will continue to look for ways to improve the 20% but the majority of the focus will be on building on the 80%.

Keep asking your self how can I be even better in the areas I excel in?

Habit # 4: Focus on a few major areas

All of us like to have our fingers in lots of pies. It makes us feel important, feel like we are contributing, feel we are keeping breadth in our knowledge and experience. Yet in truth, those that are the most effective executives focus on a few major areas. Those that give them the biggest return for their efforts, contribute most to organisational performance and to developing others.

What are those few major areas for you?

Habit # 5: Make effective decisions

Effective executives know that they have to take decisions. They are highly effective at getting to the root of the problem, assessing implications, exploring options, keeping a focus on the bigger picture and taking action. In other words they are masters at establishing processes that lead to effective decisions.

Being an executive is a tough role and being effective is an absolute must. So where do you need to develop?

Duncan Brodie helps managers, leaders and organisations to reach their true potential. Sign up for his free monthly newsletter at Duncan Brodie may be contacted at


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