How to know if you're an Executive

"I want to be an astronaut!" exclaimed Mark.

"I want to be a baseball player!" shouted Craig.

My teacher turned to me and asked, "And what do you want to be when you grow up Josh?"

"I want to be a CEO!"

A bizarre and pretentious choice for a kid? Probably. But, I think many ambitious youngsters dream about becoming the head honcho of their very own company one day.

I remember ordering some business cards for my video production business in high school. My title read, Owner & CEO. I had arrived! Or, so I thought. I was officially the Chief Executive of a one-man company.  I passed those business cards out to anybody that breathed.

For a few weeks I felt like I had accomplished my dream. I was getting some work, making some money and building a side business, but, after a while, I still felt the same. I was still just a kid with a camera and some video editing software.

I began to wonder, "What really makes a CEO?" "How do you know if you're executive material?" "What are the requirements?" "What does it take?"

At the time, I understood little about what the title really meant. Looking back, however, I can see that some of my DNA did match that of an executive's. And then I ran across Peter Drucker's famous book, The Effective Executive. In it he said:

"What really defines an executive is their ability to get the right things done."

That hit home. Sure, executives are visionaries and yes, they are good communicators. And, absolutely, they need to be able to lead people. But what really defines an executive is their ability to get the right things done. And it's that definition that tells you if you're an executive or not. You know what needs to be done and you can get it done well. Thank you Drucker.

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Doing the right things means that everything you touch becomes more effective and making things more effective is why you get paid a premium. And, if you're really effective, why you get those three little initials just below your name on your business card.

Ask yourself today, "Out of all the things that I could do, which is the right one?" "Which project is the one that, if I do it and do it well, will add the most value to my company?" Figure it out and then take effective action. Diligently (perhaps ruthlessly) see it to completion; so that when you put your head on your pillow at night, you can proudly say that, for today, "I earned my three-letter title."

What do you think of Drucker's definition of an executive? Have you come across a better one?