The Effective Executive

The Effective Executive

by Peter Drucker

Paperback(Revised ed.)

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The measure of the executive, Peter Drucker reminds us, is the ability to 'get the right things done'. Usually this involves doing what other people have overlooked, as well as avoiding what is unproductive.

He identifies five talents as essential to effectiveness, and these can be learned; in fact, they must be learned just as scales must be mastered by every piano student regardless of his natural gifts. Intelligence, imagination and knowledge may all be wasted in an executive job without the acquired habits of mind that convert these into results.

One of the talents is the management of time. Another is choosing what to contribute to the particular organization. A third is knowing where and how to apply your strength to best effect. Fourth is setting up the right priorities. And all of them must be knitted together by effective decision-making.

How these can be developed forms the main body of the book. The author ranges widely through the annals of business and government to demonstrate the distinctive skill of the executive. He turns familiar experience upside down to see it in new perspective. The book is full of surprises, with its fresh insights into old and seemingly trite situations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780750685078
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 06/25/2010
Series: Classic Drucker Collection
Edition description: Revised ed.
Pages: 184
Product dimensions: 6.25(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.39(d)

About the Author

Peter F. Drucker is considered the most influential management thinker ever. The author of more than twenty-five books, his ideas have had an enormous impact on shaping the modern corporation. Drucker passed away in 2005.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Role Of Management

The dynamic element in every business -- A distinct and a leading
group-The emergence of management-The free world's stake
in management.

The manager is the dynamic, life-giving element in every business. Without his leadership the "resources of production" remain resources and never become production. In a competitive economy, above all, the quality and performance of the managers determine the success of a business, indeed they determine its survival. For the quality and performance of its managers is the only effective advantage an enterprise in a competitive economy can have.

Management is also a distinct and a leading group in industrial society. We no longer talk of "capital" and "labor"; we talk of 1. management" and "labor." The "responsibilities of capital" have disappeared from our vocabulary together with the "rights of capital"; instead, we hear of the "responsibilities of management," and (a singularly hapless phrase) of the "prerogatives of management." We are building up a comprehensive and distinct system of "education for management." And when the Eisenhower Administration was formed in 1952, it was formed consciously as a "Management Administration."

The emergence of management as an essential, a distinct and a leading institution is a pivotal event in social history. Rarely, if ever, has a new basic institution, a new leading group, emerged as fast as has management since the turn of this century. Rarely in human history has a new institution proven indispensable so quickly;and even less often has a new institutionarrived with so little Opposition, so little disturbance, so little controversy.

Management will remain a basic and dominant institution perhaps as long as Western civilization itself survives. For management is not only grounded in the nature of the modern industrial system and in the needs of the modern business enterprise to which an industrial system must entrust its productive resources-both human and material. Management also expresses basic beliefs of modern Western society. It expresses the belief in the possibility of controlling man's livelihood through systematic organization of economic resources. It expresses the belief that economic change can be made into the most powerful engine for human betterment and social justicethat, as Jonathan Swift first overstated it two hundred and fifty years ago, whoever makes two blades of grass grow where only one grew before deserves better of mankind than any speculative philosopher or metaphysical system builder.

This belief that the material can and should be used to advance the human spirit is not just the age-old human heresy "materialism." In fact, it is incompatible with materialism as the term has always been understood. It is something new, distinctly modem, distinctly Western. Prior to, and outside of, the modern West, resources have always been considered a limit to man's activities, a restriction on his control over his environment-rather than an opportunity and a too] of his control over nature. They have always been considered God-given and unchangeable. Indeed all societies, except the modern West, have looked upon economic change as a danger to society and individual alike, and have considered it the first responsibility of government to keep the economy unchangeable.

Management, which is the organ of society specifically charged with making resources productive, that is, with the responsibility for organized economic advance, therefore reflects the basic spirit of the modern age. It is in fact indispensable-and this explains why, once begotten, it grew so fast and with so little opposition.

The Importance of Management

Management, its competence, its integrity and its performance will be decisive both to the United States and to the free world inthe decades ahead. At the same time the demands on management will be rising steadily and steeply.

A "Cold War" of indefinite duration not only puts heavy economic burdens on the economy, which only continuous economic advance can make bearable; it demands ability to satisfy the country's military needs while building up, at the same time, an expanding peacetime economy. It demands, indeed, an unprecedented ability of the entire economy to shift back and forth between peacetime and defense production, practically at an instant's notice. This demand, on the satisfaction of which our survival may well depend, is above all a demand on the competence of the managements, especially of our big enterprises.

That the United States is the leader today, economically and socially, will make management performance decisive-arid adequate management performance much harder. From the peak there is only one easy way to go: downwards. It always requires twice as' much effort and skill to stay up as it did to climb up. In other words, there is real danger that in retrospect the United States of 1950 will come to look like the Great Britain of 188o-doomed to decline for lack of vision and lack of effort. There are evidences of a tendency in this country to defend what we have rather than advance further; capital equipment is getting old in many industries; productivity is improving fast only in the very new industries, and may be stagnant if not declining in many others. Only superior management competence and continuously improved management performance can keep us progressing, can prevent our becoming smug, self-satisfied and lazy.

Outside the United States management has an even more decisive function and an even tougher job. Whether Europe regains her economic prosperity depends, above all, on the performance of her managements. And whether the formerly colonial and raw-material producing countries will succeed in developing their economies as free nations or will go Communist, depends to a large extent on their ability to produce competent and responsible managers in a hurry. Truly, the entire free world has an immense stake in the competence, skill and responsibility of management.

Practice of Management. Copyright © by Peter F. Drucker. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

Effectiveness can be learned; Know thy time; What can I contribute?; Making strength productive; First things first; The elements of decision-making; Effective decisions; Conclusion: Effectiveness must be learned;

Reading Group Guide

"An intelligent, authoritative, and original guide." --Washington Post
The measure of the executive is the ability to "get the right things done." In this book, Peter Drucker identifies five practices essential to business effectiveness that can, and must, be learned: time management, choosing what to contribute to a particular organization, knowing where and how to mobilize strength for the best effect, setting up the right priorities, and knitting all of these together with effective decision making. Drucker ranges widely through the annals of business and government to demonstrate the distinctive skill of the executive…and inspire workers at every level to put these principles into practice.

Questions for Discussion

  • "Management books usually deal with managing other people. The subject of this book is managing oneself for effectiveness." Does Peter Drucker successfully support this theory throughout the book? What were your perceptions of management prior to reading The Effective Executive? Has your opinion changed in any way?

  • Drucker states, "I have not come across a single 'natural': an executive who was born effective." He then goes on to say that "there seems to be little correlation between a man's effectiveness and his intelligence, his imagination or his knowledge." In your opinion, are effective executives always "made," as Drucker suggests? Do you think there are qualities inherent in certain people that make them more effective executives than others?

  • Discuss the five principles Drucker outlines as essential for effectiveness. Which one did you find the most surprising? Did youdisagree with any of the principles?

  • "Most books on decision-making tell the reader: 'First find the facts.' But executives who make effective decisions know that one does not start with facts. One starts with opinions." Do you agree with this statement? How does Drucker support his position on this?

  • Drucker maintains that this book can be used by workers at every level, not just CEOs and other high-ranking executives. Do you agree? What makes Drucker's advice universal? About the Author: Peter F. Drucker's management books and analyses of economics and society are widely read and respected throughout the world and have been translated into more than twenty languages. He has been a frequent contributor to various magazines and journals over the years and was an editorial columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Since 1971, he has been Clark University Professor of Social Science at Claremont Graduate University. He lives in Claremont, California.

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    Effective Executive 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
    red.yardbird on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Classic. Pull this out and re-read parts regularly
    shadowofthewind on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This is a great book on how to be efficient with your time. Even though this was originally written in the 1960s, this book is just as relevant today. (Well, except the part of how the computer will disrupt the office, that's a little dated.) I really enjoyed some of the anecdotal stories from executives who had to be ruthlessly efficient with their time. (Meetings can't go past 1.5 hours, otherwise, I stop paying attention.) A good read for managers and executives trying to be more efficient with their time.
    poolera on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    One of the best management books I have ever read.
    rwk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A solid, comprehensive and well written overview of what the management function - executed with precision and clarity looks like. It appears to be repackaged from some of his other books/writings and, frankly, feels a tad stale - that may have more to do with his style than substance, though. It's all vintage Drucker, however, and no-one at or above a manager's position should be without a copy.
    BrianDewey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Yes, this is a business book, but one of the rare good business books that I can see myself re-reading periodically into the future. Most business books are such fluff, with so little content, that I feel sorry for all the trees that sacrificed themselves to make what is essentially blank paper. The Effective Executive, on the other hand, is pretty dense. The book is short (174 pages, plus an index). And while many of the points it makes are obvious, they're the types of obvious points that people still miss. At the current stage of my career, there are three points this book made that I'm going to pay close attention to. The first is to continue to manage my time carefully. The second is to focus on the right results I should be achieving: this is something I haven't done enough of. I've been caught in fire-fighting mode. Finally, I'm going to pay more attention to my decision-making. Drucker makes an interesting point, one that I don't have enough experience to agree or disagree with yet. He argues that an effective executive doesn't make many decisions, and he doesn't make them quickly. Instead, he makes a few important decisions. One thing I haven't been asking myself: Am I making the important decisions?
    Linda Strauseburg More than 1 year ago
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    NathanIves More than 1 year ago
    The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter Drucker focuses on self-management rather than on the management of others. The book addresses how an individual can become more effective in key activities such as time management, activity prioritization, and decision-making to the furtherance of their organization's goals. I believe that an organization's actions are defined by its people and not the buildings, machines, and tools they use - organizations themselves fundamentally behave like people. Subsequently, as individuals become more effective, such that their decisions and activities are increasingly focused on mission achievement, the organization itself is more likely to achieve greater levels of success. Because the principles contained within The Effective Executive focus on strong leadership, when they are built into processes and procedures, additional measurable improvements in organizational effectiveness can be achieved. The Effective Executive clearly and concisely conveys many powerful leadership concepts. Many of the best practice recommendations found on the StrategyDriven website relate to The Effective Executive; making it a StrategyDriven recommended read. All the Best, Nathan Ives StrategyDriven Principal Contributor and Host of the StrategyDriven Podcast
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book belongs on the shelf of anyone that calls or hopes to call themselves a professional. The points are relevant, clear and compelling. Every executive must manage their time, work on the right things, make effective decisions and read this book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
    As an author and an intellectual, the late Peter F. Drucker was a true business sage. Recognized as the father of modern management, Drucker forecast numerous pivotal trends, including decentralization, privatization and the development of the information society. He introduced the concept of the "knowledge worker," a term he employs widely in this fascinating book. His internal study of General Motors, Concept of the Corporation, greatly influenced how businesses conduct their affairs. Each Drucker book is a genuine business classic, including this one. getAbstract believes it will help you think productively about what you do. No one writes more intelligently or presciently on management and its functions than Drucker. All executives, even those who are already effective, will benefit from reading this informative, enlightening book.
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    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Revolutionary when written, The Effective Executive provides the fund of ideas on which most subsequent management works draw. To fully understand today's cutting edge business concepts, you must, absolutely must, first understand Drucker and read his original writings. The Effective Exectuive caused many in the business and academic worlds to scratch their heads asking 'Why didn't I think of that?' The answer: they had focused on many of the trees in the forest about which Drucker wrote ('first things first' and 'know thy time' and 'effective decisions'), but they had not stepped back far enough to see the whole landscape and appreciate how the individual trees fit together. After reading The Effective Executive you will want to read challenging new works such as 'Why Didn't I Think of That? - Think the Unthinkable and Achieve Creative Greatness' where the author takes you to the highest levels of current creative managerial thought so that you, unlike your predecessors in the pre-Drucker days, will not end up having to ask yourself 'Why didn't I think of that?'
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Have you ever run into executives who create more harm than good? Do you realize that some people may see you that way, at least in some situations. One of the most famous quotes by Peter Drucker is that he sometimes refers to himself as an 'insultant' rather than a consultant. His straight talk in this book will direct you onto the right path for helping your organization accomplish more. Peter Drucker begins this book by pointing out that there is no science of how to improve executive effectiveness, nor any naturally-occurring effective executives. The redeeming point of this problem is that he argues that executive effectiveness can be learned. The principles begin with a focus on time management. We can get greater quantities of every other resource we need, except time. Drucker reports that executives spend their time much differently than they think they do and much differently than they would like to. His solution is to begin by measuring how you spend your time, and compare it with an ideal allocation. Than begin to systematically get rid of the unimportant in favor of the important. His suggestions include stopping some things, delegation, creating policy decisions to replace ad hoc decisions, staying out of things that others should do, and so forth. Any student of time management will recognize the list he suggests. One of the best points is to give yourself large blocks of uninterrupted time to do more significant tasks. He also cautions us not to cut down on time spent with other people. If an hour is required, don't try to do it in 15 minutes. Next, Drucker argues that we should focus on what will make a difference rather than unimportant questions. Otherwise, we will fill our time with motion rather than proceeding towards results. Beyond that, he points out that we have to build on our own strengths and those of the people in our organization. That is how we can outperform the competition and accomplish much more. We also need to be systems thinkers, getting to the core of the issue first. If you would like to know more about that subject, look at The Fifth Discipline. For example, if you are weak on new products, you need to work on the new product development process before fine-tuning your marketing. If you reverse the order of these activities, your results will be far less. Perhaps the best section in the book has to do with executive decision-making, when to make a decision, about what, and what principles to apply. If you only read this section, you would be well rewarded for studying this fine book. I especially liked the familiar Drucker use of important historical examples to make his points. You'll remember the principles better because the examples are so vivid. Although this book was written some time ago, it retains the strength of its insight today. Truly , this is a timeless way to achieve greater effectiveness. You may be concerned about how you are going to learn to apply these concepts. That is actually quite easy. Drucker provides questions in each section that will guide you, step-by-step, to focus your attention on the most promising areas. If you only read one book about how to improve your personal effectiveness as an executive, you will find this to be a rewarding choice. If you liked what Peter Drucker had to say in this book, you may want to read his latest book, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, to get your agenda for using the skills you developed from The Effective Executive. Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution