Dimensions of executive tasks

Effective managers can quickly transition between activities along three dimensions.

  • Altitude: conceptual to operating details
  • Topic: internal to external
  • Style: informal to formal

Executives need to know when to delegate and focus their energy on setting strategic direction versus when to get involved in day-to-day decision-making. To do that, they need proficiency in each role, so when necessary they can credibly weigh in on operating details.

Having an understanding of what everyone does, allows executives to better manage team conflicts and to better represent their company when answering questions from customers, investors, and regulators.

Lastly, to persuasively address the concerns of different stakeholders, executives need to be able to connect with many different types of people. Based on context, this may mean showing vulnerability to earn trust or appearing invincible to allay lingering doubts, with word choice and body language.