The Effective Executive

Review of the book The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker.
2013-10-17 – ⁠2023-08-28 finishedSource published on: 2006


This post is a summary of The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker.

Keep in mind that for Drucker an executive is “anyone who seriously affects the ability of an organization to perform”. Which makes many information workers, among others, executives.

1. Effectiveness can be learned

Executive’s performance requires the following five habits:

  • Know where your time goes and systematically manage it.
  • Focus on results rather than work required.
  • Build on your strengths and your coworkers’, not on weaknesses.
  • Focus on a few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results, set priorities and have the courage to stick with them.
  • Make effective decisions.


2. Know thy time

How you spend time indicates your real priorities.

As opposed to looking at how you wish you were spending time or how you had planned to.

Continuously record your time, manage it by pruning time-wasters and consolidate it to provide value.

Three questions to ask yourself:

  • What happens if I don’t do this?
  • Which things I do that could be done equally well or better by someone else?
  • What time do I waste on others w/o contributing to their effectiveness?


3. What can I contribute?

What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and results of the institution I serve? If you don’t ask this question you’re likely to aim low and at the wrong things. Asking this question also means turning your attention to the whole, to the outside, the only place where results take place.


4. Making strength productive

Single-purpose beats well-rounded. Organizations are instruments to make human strengths redound to performance while human weaknesses are neutralized and rendered harmless.

You are paid to perform, not to please your superiors.

Identify your strengths: What can X do uncommonly well?


5. First things first

Switch from being busy to achieving results.

The secret of people who do so many things is that they do one thing at a time which makes you do it fast.

The most important thing about priorities is not analysis but courage.


6. The elements of decision-making

Try to find a solution at the highest conceptual level, look for the true problem.

Focus on fewer but important decisions: an executive who makes many decisions is both lazy and ineffectual.


7. Effective decisions

Making decisions requires courage: effective decisions are generally distasteful.

Decisions that don’t get executed are just good intentions.