Peter F. Drucker - The Effective Executive

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Effectiveness must be learned.

Mar 11, 2004
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Excellent concepts that can be applied immediately.

Cons:May be weighty reading for some.

The Bottom Line: The Effective Excecutive combines presentation of leadership theory and management techniques with practical advice that will help the reader become a successful executive.


Peter F Drucker, The Effective Executive is an important book that goes over the five practices essential to business effectiveness that can, and must be learned: “management of time; choosing what to contribute to the particular organization; knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect; setting up the right priorities; and knitting all of them together with effective decision making”. Although Drucker wrote this book more than thirty years ago, the principles of decision-making are still relevant today. There were several major things I learned from Peter F Druckers book, “The Effective Executive.” Drucker believes in the “Contingency Theory” where leadership is a variable on a given situation in which leadership is carried out. Bottom line leadership can be learned; you don’t have to be the best and the brightest to be a leader. Drucker also focuses on choice. Encouraging the reader to match their skills with an organization before taking the administrator job. Too often people accept jobs that don’t fit their skills. They simply take any job and that is not a good thing. It is important that the job be filled with the right person (not fits the job to the available person). Drucker also addresses the subject of jobs in an organization being interdependent; if one changes, it will affect another. Which in my opinion is what the team approach is all about. I also liked the statement, "To tolerate diversity, relationships must be task-focused rather than personality focused." (Pg 77) To often people take jobs and don’t do the work using bad a bad attitude to camouflage the fact that they are a poor worker. Everyone generally avoids the person who will ‘go off’ simply because they don’t want to waste their time in a debate that has nothing to do with the task at hand.


The first chapter, “Effectiveness Can Be Learned” stresses that effectiveness can’t be taken for granted it must be learned. This chapter lays down the basic foundations on how to survive and be a leader in any organization. Drucker points out that there is no magic formula you’ve got to work at it and not expect to get everything perfect overnight. Drucker’s analogies in chapter one are interesting for example he states, “In a guerilla war, every man is an executive”. It’s interesting how he uses the terms “guerilla war” to reflect some peoples behavior in business. Druckers unusual shift in examples breaks from traditional illustrations as he attempts to reach those with a ‘kill everyone’ mentality simply to get ahead. I’m sure everyone who reads this book will remember someone in their life that did everything to get ahead even if it meant lying, stealing and killing other peoples careers.


Drucker appropriately hits and focuses upon several principles themes in his book. 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. When I apply this principle to my caseload at work, it looks like I spend more time handling emergency crises than actually sitting down completing my paperwork. I like the way Drucker stresses that I need to systematically get rid of the unimportant in favor of what’s 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 the list goes on. Any body that wants to learn about time management should read chapter two, “Know Thy Time”. Drucker points out that it is important to give yourself large blocks of uninterrupted time to do more significant tasks without cutting the amount of time we spend with people. I like his concept, where he says, “If an hour is required, don't try to do it in 15 minutes”.


In chapter four titled, “Making Strength Productive”, Drucker encourages the reader to build on their own strengths and those of the people in our organization. That is how we can outperform the competition and accomplish much more. It’s important that we overcome limitations and develop staff’s commitment to responsible effectiveness. The book overlaps at times because this point ties into the fact that we should staff to people's strength not their weaknesses. One of the most important concepts I like about this chapter is how Drucker points out that a person is hired to produce results, not to please a superior, or blend in. One of my pet peeves as a supervisor is a ‘suck up’ or ‘brown noser’ we had a special name for them when I was in the military.


Another important chapter in this book is chapter six titled, “The Elements of Decision-making”. This chapter focuses on when to make a decision, and how to make the right choice. Drucker uses the example of the computer. Suggesting that the greatest impact of the computer lies in its limitations, which will force us increasingly to make decisions, and above all, force middle managers to change from operators into executives and decision-makers." Finally, although this book was written some time ago, and perhaps part of it appears outdated, I think much if not most of the information presented is extremely helpful today. With our sagging and poor economy it is easy to see why people want a job because of the salary and benefits, unfortunately that has created a sea of poor leaders and terrible managers. Sadly there are way too many people who care more about lining their own pockets for personal gain than applying sound principles. Like Drucker, I am convinced that you cannot treat people like parts of a computer; after all they are human beings.


Final Thoughts:

Initially the title made this book look like this was reading for business students. This book was assigned reading for my master’s level Social Work Administration class, although at the onset I found it a bit weighty, the material in the book is organized well and easy to read. The vignettes are helpful and informative providing crispy clear real life examples about leadership development. There are vital concepts and ideas I can apply to my profession as a Social Worker. For example, providing needed human services and contributing to the improvement of the quality of life for all people is personally rewarding, but ultimately it must be done effectively. Regardless of your profession, I think there is valuable information for everyone in the book, “The Effective Executive”.


Contents
Preface
1. Effectiveness Can Be Learned
2. Know Thy Time
3. What Can I Contribute?
4. Making Strength Productive
5. First Things First
6. The Elements of Decision-making
7. Effective Decisions
Conclusion: Effective Must Be Learned
Index


Recommend this product? Yes


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