Jun 14, 2023

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

Nathan King

Want to have a bigger impact? Get more done? Grow in you career? The Effective Executive contains time-tested guidance on how to do it. Written by Peter Drucker, he condenses his wisdom into practical, essential, proven guidance for getting results.

Drucker wrote it in 1967, after 20 years of closely working with and studying executives.

The book addresses a fundamental tension between organization and individual. The organization tends to use the individual's time poorly. The limits of time require an individual to overcome the inertia of the organization or risk achieving nothing.

5 Skills of Effective Executives

1. Rigorous time management

2. Personal accountability for results

3. Relentless prioritization

4. Creating an effective team through building on strengths

5. Making decisions

Time Management

Want to be effective? Don't start with "what big thing will I accomplish?" Start with "What am I actually doing?"

  1. Track time, then

  2. Manage time,

  3. The consolidate time

The Fruits of Time Management: Accountability and Prioritization

Accountability Comes from a Written Action Plan

To be effective, the executive must be on guard.

Organizations…are inherently time wasters.

The instrument to remaining on guard is a written action plan. The action plan comes as a result of answering the questions:

  1. What contributions to the enterprise expect from me over the next 18 months to two years?

  2. What results will I commit to?

  3. With what deadlines?

The action plan must allow the executive to determine how time is spent. It must be reviewed continually as events unfold because unpredictable and potentially urgent events will require the executive to change course.

Prioritization Puts "First Things First"

If the executive lets the flow of events determine what he does, what he works on, and what he takes seriously, he will fritter himself away “operating."

Focusing is the secret of effectiveness: "executives do first things first and then one thing at a time."

Deciding what not to do is painful. The executive tends to be overly optimistic and take on too many initiatives. This causes ineffective results because he can't "impose on time and events his own decision as to what really matters."

How does an executive focus? Courage. It is "the executive's only hope" to avoid becoming the "whipping boy" to events.

Note this: logic does not produce prioritization; emotional commitment does.

A few guidelines for identifying priorities:

  • Pick the future against the past;

  • Focus on opportunity rather than problem;

  • Choose your own direction—rather than climb on the bandwagon; and

  • Aim high...rather than for something that is “safe” and easy to do.

Building on Strengths

The force multiplier for the executive is the power of a team. To build an effective team, start with strengths to identify talent to match to opportunities. Each member of the management team should periodically:

prepare two lists every six months – a list of opportunities for the entire enterprise and a list of the best performing people throughout the enterprise...the best people are matched with the best opportunities.

Meetings are the primary mechanism for engaging with a team.

The effective executive decides in advance what she wants to get out of a meeting. An easy start to answer that question is to understand the general type of meeting:

  1. To make a decision

  2. To inform

  3. To clarify what needs to be done

Performance management: Actively manage up and down

To lead an individual, clearly define the expected results from someone.

Conduct a performance review, which only requires 4 questions:

1. What has he done well?

2. Based on that, what is he likely to do well?

3. What does he need to learn to maximize his strength?

4. Would I want my child to work for him? Why or why not?

Managing up is also important: reflect on questions to organize how you can help. replace questions 3 and 4 with

  • “what does he need to know to use his strength?”

  • “What does he need to get from me to perform?”

How to Make Effective Decisions

Empower people to make decisions. If others can make decisions, it frees up significant time for the executive to concentrate on results.

Most decisions are part of a pattern. Such decisions can be guided by a policy or principle, thus the effective executive can define policy and delegate the decision.

How to make a decision:

  1. Ask the question: is the situation part of a pattern or an exception?

  2. All decisions are based on a hypothesis about the result. What are the measures of success?

  3. The decision isn't "done" until defining the steps taken to implement it as well as assigning person to complete it.

  4. Feedback is key. Test the decision against the reality. Did the results meet expectations?




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