What Peter Drucker says about Effective Executives

By | July 6, 2013

Peter Drucker is a legend in business and management thinking. He passed away in 2005, after writing almost 40 books, teaching extensively and consulting people like Procter and Gamble’s A.G. Lafley, GE’s Jack Welch, and Intel’s Andy Grove. He is credited with the concepts of knowledge workers, management by objectives and outsourcing to name a few. He anticipated the rise of non-profits and the social sector. In short, he was the man.

If you consider yourself a student of business, management and organization and don’t know Peter Drucker, uh . . . you better do some reading. His writing is old school – in fact a good bit of it was before color TV broadcasts in the US, and almost all of it before the internet. Does that diminish the value of his thoughts? Not really, he was that good.

I wrote an amazon.com review of The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker in 2004. Drucker originally wrote this in 1967 (before I was born), but the principles of decision making are still relevant today, if not more so.

The effective executive. . .

1) Knows where their time goes. Time is the most valuable resource and is inelastic. It must be managed. What has priority? What is better left undone? What can be outsourced?

2) Focuses on results (not effort) by asking:
“What do I do that justifies my being on the payroll?” (pg 53).

3) Staffs to people’s strength (not the absence of weakness).
There is no such thing as a “good man”. Good at what? Likewise, a person is hired to produce results, not to please a superior, or blend in.

4) Fills the job with the right person (not fits the job to the available person). Jobs in the organization are interdependent; if one changes, it will affect another. Also, “To tolerate diversity, relationships must be task-focused rather than personality focused.” (pg 77)

5) Tries to be himself / herself (not someone else). (S)He looks for patterns in their performance, and focus on their strengths. “Feed the opportunities and starve the problems.” (pg 98)

6) Concentrates on one effort at a time. (not multitasking)
It is hard enough to do one thing right.

7) Concentrates on important and strategic decisions (not a great number of small, reactionary decisions). Many problems were created in the past, and solving them only re-establishes the status quo. It is better to seek opportunities than just fix problems.

8) Makes decisions based on dissenting opinions (not pseudo facts and pre-judgements) Use other’s opinions to form a case for each side.

9) Acts or does not act (no hedging or compromise)

Peter Drucker - Effective Executive
Are you an effective executive? Are your clients effective in this way? I remember reading once that Drucker said that executives should control their calendar because their time was the most precious.  Agree – my contention is that most executives have too little control of their own calendar and therefore don’t have enough time to think through their problems. Ergo, more strategy consulting.

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