8 Principles of Effective Managers

Peter Drucker fans will recognize the subtitle of my blog “Effectiveness is a discipline and it can be learned” as one of his famous quotes, and this pretty much sums up my thoughts on it. Anyone can learn how to become more effective as long as they apply themselves to it and marketers are no exception.

In 2004 Drucker wrote an article for Harvard Business Review Magazine titled “What makes an effective executive”. Eight practices are outlined to guide executives become more effective, and by “executive”, he means not only managers but knowledge workers overall. The practices are as follows:

          Ask “what needs to be done”

          Ask “what is right for the enterprise”

          Develop action plans

          Take responsibility for decisions

          Take responsibility for communicating

          Focus on opportunities rather than problems

          Run productive meetings

          Say “we” rather than “I”

It is interesting that this article differs a bit from his seminal book “The Effective Executive” (Harper Business 1993), which talked a lot about time management and decision making. Combining both sources, you have excellent material to guide you in becoming a better marketing manager.

Since those are both solid works that need to be used in your search for effectiveness, let’s tackle them in different posts. The 8 principles he outlines in his HBR article are more “action oriented”, meaning they guide you towards making the right plans for the right activity and how to behave in general.  Let’s apply them to marketing, shall we?

8 Principles for Effective Marketers

Those principles are easily transferable to marketing professionals:

Principle 1: Ask yourself “what needs to be done”?

What is your highest priority? As a marketer what is the ONE thing you need to do that will really determine whether your company will be successful? This is probably the toughest question and the most critical principle outlined by Drucker since it forces you to think through all your priorities, review your knowledge of the marketplace and of your products and offerings, then come up with that critical action that will drive all your other efforts.

Maybe you should focus on establishing an online presence, or in enhancing brand awareness, or even in creating a community of users… whatever is the highest priority that is the one you will be focusing on, the one that will yield higher results.

Interesting also to note that Drucker suggests asking “what needs to be done NOW”? When you list all your priorities, it is likely several items will be placed higher and even at the same level, but you should decide on the one that needs to be done at this moment, the critical action that can’t wait. This question when rephrased will help you focus.

Principle 2: Ask “what is right for the enterprise”?

So after you come up with what needs to be done now (your highest priority), you should make sure it fits with the corporate goals. You may very well have as highest on your list the revamp of the corporate website using the newest flash menus, blogs, and tracking mechanisms but can you link it back to corporate goals? This is key and what will link marketing to the company’s priorities.

This question is great as a discussion item between the marketing team and the top management (ideally the CEO). Where is the company headed? What’s the mission? Getting back to these basic principles can help marketing to “reset” and come up with a plan for action that will drive the organization in the right direction. So although that new website project was high on your list, maybe rethinking packaging or focusing on sales collateral is what should be done. It’s for you to decide!

 Principles 3 to 8: check back for discussion on the remaining 6 principles.

P.S.: you may be asking youself “where are all the nice tools that we marketers love to use and how do they relate to being effective”? Hang tight, because we’ll get to that real soon!

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