Results, Perception, Learning: What Makes a Truly Effective Executive

In the competitive world of business, ineffectiveness inevitably shows up on the profit and loss statements and balance sheets of any type of institution, be it a business, university, or government agency. 

The only test of management that matters is performance. Either management performs or it doesn't. 

More than 30 years ago, Harvard's Ted Levitt said:

The general rule may be laid down that bad performance reflects the existence of bad management…

That is especially so in the case of bad relative performance that remains relatively bad for two years or more…

Not-good managers are generally very good at explaining how much better things are than they seem, and what bunch of things are being or will be done to make them even better… That in part explains why they exhaust and outlast critics. They sound better than they are…

It can be said with confident certainty that wherever the articulate and persuasive rationalizer for constantly or frequently poor performance regularly shows up, the organization will surely slow down and go under.

Levitt implied that not-good managers tend to blame bad performance on suddenly bad or changing times, prior management decisions and commitments, and a host of other real and alleged reasons for chronic underperformance.  

"But since it is management’s job to manage for the right results, regardless of circumstance, no such excuses can be warranted," Levitt said.

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