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Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time Paperback – January 18, 2016
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“I hired Laura Stack to work with my team. Her views are drawn from her twenty-five years of experience with hundreds of leaders and organizations like mine, and I give her work my highest recommendation.”
—Steve Silver, Human Resources Director, AlliedBarton Security Services
“If you follow the concepts Stack sculpts in Doing the Right Things Right, you can gather insight into where you can improve results, why you might be falling short in some areas, and how to improve both your work and your life.”
—Cathy Krause, Learning and Development Manager, MillerCoors
“Stack is so right about ‘doing the right things right.' My advice for how an effective executive should spend some time? Read and learn from her book!”
—Harvey Mackay, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive
“Laura Stack is one of the brightest professional people I know. Her content is useful. Her approach is practical. Her recommendations are right on. I recommend her work with conviction.”
—Nido R. Qubein, President, High Point University
“If you're tired of all the business fables and want real-world coaching on getting more done, then this is the book for you.”
—Randy Gage, author of the New York Times bestseller Risky Is the New Safe and Mad Genius
“I hired Laura Stack personally six years ago. My staff and I were frazzled and felt overworked and out of control. Stack came to town and came to work and life has been better since. Rarely does a day go by that I don't think of one or two of the productive tips she teaches. Now, Doing the Right Things Right comes along and updates, refreshes, and adds a new perspective to the science of productivity and all that I thought I knew. Read this book so you too can ‘manufacture' that time in your life that you need so you can go home early!”
—Montague Boyd, CFP, forty-year financial advisor, Atlanta, Georgia
“Laura Stack doesn't beat around the bush when it comes to productive advice—because that would waste time. Not a word's wasted here. Her examples are to the point, her advice concise, and the book itself surprisingly brief. If she were anyone else, I'd say she tried to cram too many topics into one book, but that's part of this book's utility—this book saves time and shelf space.”
—Jeremy Eaves, Director, People Services, DaVita Inc.
“To be successful in business, you must make money, and time is money. The more time you can save, the more of it you can repurpose to higher-value activities. In Doing the Right Things Right, Laura Stack offers leaders a practical guide on doing their jobs efficiently and effectively.”
—Alex Doverspike, Director of Financial Services, Chick-fil-A, Inc.
“Once again the ‘right' thing to do is to read Laura's latest book, Doing the Right Things Right. Her time-saving productivity systems are vital to strong leadership of self or team. Her practical approach, coupled with a quarter century of teaching leaders, will help you succeed without the pain of mistakes.”
—Jeff Bettinger, Global Head of Talent Acquisition, Alcon
“I love Laura's refreshingly practical perspective. No one really cares how many items you've crossed off your to-do list or how many hours you spend at the office. What matters is that you get the right things done—and that's what this no-nonsense little book will teach you to do.”
—Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It
“Laura Stack has taken the best ideas of Peter Drucker to a new level for the 21st century. This book shows you how to dramatically increase your efficiency, effectiveness, and results—faster than you ever thought possible.”
—Brian Tracy, author of Time Power and Eat That Frog!
“Execute today, plan for tomorrow, and invite the very best from your team. Sound compelling? Then add Laura Stack's latest book, Doing the Right Things Right, to the top of your reading list. There's no time to waste, so use her 3T Leadership Assessment and jump straight to the content that will help you most!”
—Catherine Stewart, talent, culture, and organizational development consultant, H&R Block
“More than a book, Doing the Right Things Right is a complete program in leadership efficiency and effectiveness. Offering a tool for analysis, online support, and resources for additional information, Laura Stack provides an exceptional straightforward model for organizational and personal productivity.”
—Karla R. Peters-Van Havel, PhD, COO, Institute for Management Studies
“I'm a big fan of concise writing and straight talk, so I found Stack's Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time right on the mark. Stack makes it easy for executives at all levels to be effective and efficient in twelve practical chapters.”
—Jennifer Colosimo, coauthor of Great Work, Great Career (with Stephen R. Covey) and former Vice President of Wisdom, DaVita Healthcare Partners
Laura Stack, aka The Productivity Pro®, offers an up-to-date guide packed with advice to help busy executives make sure they are both efficient and effective
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Drucker outlines five “habits of the mind” that are required of executives: understanding and controlling where time goes; focusing on results; building on your strengths; prioritizing work; and making effective decisions.
Stack believes “if the book (Drucker’s) has a flaw… it’s in not examining the “how.” Her book is intended to correct this flaw.
However, Stack’s book feels like being sprayed by a fire-hydrant, rather than being drip fed – it is simply far too much, all at once. The volume of issues she covers from strategy to team-effectiveness, to personal efficacy, decision-making and more, is too superficial to be instructive. Despite this serious deficiency, I still think this book is worth reading, because it is aimed at executives who have been exposed to the ideas she presents. This book serves only as a reminder of what you most probably know, but may well have forgotten, or overlooked. Therein lies its value.
Below are some ideas you might find worth reconsidering. “Regularly re-evaluate your progress to ensure you’re on the right path,” Stack suggests.
The dictionary definition of an executive is a person appointed and given the responsibility to manage the affairs of an organization and the authority to make specific decisions. As such, an executive might be a middle manager, a senior leader, or even an individual contributor who hasn’t received a title. An executive is anyone who is responsible for results.
Effectiveness is successfully producing what needs to be done, and efficiency is doing it with the minimum expenditure of time, effort, and money. “It doesn’t matter how well your team climbs Mount Everest if your intention was to climb the Matterhorn,” Stack points out.
As an executive, you must execute because the decisions are ultimately yours to make. If you’re in command, be in command. Execution and results are all that really matters in any business. If you don’t decide, circumstances will make your decisions for you, and the circumstances may not have your best interests in mind.
Producing results is at the heart of what it means to be efficient and effective, or as Vince Lombardi the great football coach famously said: “Performance isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
Analysts Collinson and Jay, estimated that the 200 largest Fortune 500 companies alone, suffer from “value-destructive complexity,” costing them $237 billion a year. It is the leader who is responsible for making things as easier and quicker for the organization through the formulation and application of simple rules.
“You may discover that rather than having dozens of processes to deal with, you actually have one core process that applies to dozens of situations. Cleaning up your processes accelerates business wonderfully, resulting in greater simplicity and greater profits,” Stack explains.
The number of meetings you attend and your high rating in culture surveys, don’t really matter. What does matter is whether you and your team can consistently produce at a high level that meets or exceeds your goals. This requires that your team has clear goals, with guardrails. Focus on a few major goals, and execute them superbly. “If your team lacks clear goals, it may as well be a drunken octopus on roller skates.” (What a great image!)
Multitasking is as serious a timewaster for a team as it is for individuals. Goal effectiveness requires that you are using each person’s key strengths and insights into the company, and your customers’ business.
Goals should never be seen as cast in stone. Once people thought they would never be able to travel faster than thirty-five miles per hour, the speed of a galloping horse. Nowadays, airplanes regularly exceed five hundred miles per hour. Not long ago, typewriters were an essential piece of office equipment until they were displaced in quick succession by word processors, monochrome computers, PCs and Macs, handheld devices, smartphones, and cloud computing. And all this within 20 years.
Everything changes, so should your goals.
Everyone wants to be happy with, and proud of their work, yet so few are. “Effective communication sets profitable, productive organizations apart from the duds,” explains Stack - it makes a huge difference. Effective communication is more art than science. One needs to check in with your people regularly to make sure they’re in tune with the team and also with the organization.
“Keep your mission in front of your team. Repeat your goals until you’re blue in the face—you can’t over-communicate, and you won’t insult people with repetition.”
Getting discretionary effort from team members begins with a genuine concern for them and their lives. Gone are the days when employees were nothing more than their job descriptions, interchangeable machine parts. Smart leaders know they get further by forming partnerships with their employees and acting as visionary facilitators; sometimes even cheerleaders, but never, ever as dictators.
They’re people. If you take care of your people, they are more likely to take care of you—loyalty flows both ways. Treated well, staff are more likely to stay with you, and good staff are expensive to replace. You constantly need to find reasons for your people to pour their discretionary effort into their work.
“Never lose track of your team’s best interests while pursuing your own. That’s one touchstone of a good executive.” Stack notes.
Stack’s collection of ideas will either make you proud of your leadership, or embarrass you. Either way it is a worthwhile read.
Readability Light -+--- Serious
Insights High ---+- Low
Practical High ---+- Low
*Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy and is a sought-after conference speaker.