Effective Executive: Preface
by Peter Drucker — his other books
top of the food-chain
Amazon Link: The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials)
See The Effective Executive for a detailed outline of its contents after reading the remainder of this page — it’s very important.
The Effective Executive in Action provides an explicit work approach
Who Is An Executive?
Every knowledge worker in modern organization is an “executive” if, by virtue of his position or knowledge, he is responsible for a contribution that materially affects the capacity of the organization to perform and to obtain results.
Remember all of this takes place within the sweep of history
Management books usually deal with managing other people.
The subject of this book is managing oneself for effectiveness.
That one can truly manage other people is by no means adequately proven.
But one can always manage oneself.
Indeed, executives who do not manage themselves for effectiveness cannot possibly expect to manage their associates and subordinates.
Management is largely by example.
Executives who do not know how to make themselves effective in their own job and work set the wrong example.
Managing Oneself contents
Amazon.com link: Managing Oneself (Harvard Business Review Classics)
To be reasonably effective it is not enough for the individual to be intelligent, to work hard or to be knowledgeable.
Effectiveness is something separate, something different.
But to be effective also does not require special gifts, special aptitude, or special training.
Effectiveness as an executive demands doing certain—and fairly simple—things.
It consists of a small number of practices, the practices that are presented and discussed in this book.
But these practices are not “inborn.”
In forty-five years of work as a consultant with a large number of executives in a wide variety of organizations—large and small; businesses, government agencies, labor unions, hospitals, universities, community services; American, European, Latin American and Japanese—I have not come across a single “natural”: an executive who was born effective.
All the effective ones have had to learn to be effective.
And all of them then had to practice (calendarize this?) effectiveness until it became habit.
But all the ones who worked on making themselves effective executives succeeded in doing so.
Effectiveness can be learned—and it also has to be learned.
Effectiveness is what executives are being paid for, whether they work as managers who are responsible for the performance of others as well as their own, or as individual professional contributors responsible for their own performance only.
Without effectiveness there is no “performance,” no matter how much intelligence and knowledge goes into the work, no matter how many hours it takes.
Yet it is perhaps not too surprising that we have so far paid little attention to the effective executive.
Organizations—whether business enterprises, large government agencies, labor unions, large hospitals or large universities—are, after all, brand new.
A century ago almost no one had even much contact with such organizations beyond an occasional trip to the local post office to mail a letter.
And effectiveness as an executive means effectiveness in and through an organization.
Until recently there was little reason for anyone to pay much attention to the effective executive or to worry about the low effectiveness of so many of them.
Now, however, most people—especially those with even a fair amount of schooling—can expect to spend all their working lives in an organization of some kind.
Society has become a society of organizations in all developed countries.
Now the effectiveness of the individual depends increasingly on his or her ability to be effective in an organization, to be effective as an executive.
And the effectiveness of a modern society and its ability to perform—perhaps even its ability to survive—depend increasingly on the effectiveness of the people who work as executives in the organizations.
The effective executive is fast becoming a key resource for society, and effectiveness as an executive a prime requirement for individual accomplishment and achievement—for young people at the beginning of their working lives fully as much as for people in mid-career.
Effectiveness Must Be learned
This is not a textbook, of course—if only because effectiveness, while capable of being learned, surely cannot be taught.
Effectiveness is, after all, not a “subject,” but a self-discipline. …
Effectiveness reveals itself as crucial to a person’s self-development; to organization development; and to the fulfillment and viability of modern society. …
There is much more to the self-development of an executive than his training in effectiveness.
He has to acquire knowledges and skills.
He has to learn a good many new work habits as he proceeds along his career, and he will occasionally have to unlearn some old work habits.
(Calendarize these developments?)
But knowledges, skills, and habits, no matter how accomplished, will avail the executive little unless he first develops himself in effectiveness. …
There is nothing exalted about being an effective executive.
It is simply doing one’s job like thousands of others.
There is little danger that anyone will compare this essay on training oneself to be an effective executive with, say, Kierkegaard’s great self-development tract, Training in Christianity.
There are surely higher goals for a man’s life than to become an effective executive.
But only because the goal is so modest can we hope at all to achieve it; that is, to have the large number of effective executives modern society and its organizations need. …
If we required saints, poets, or even first-rate scholars to staff our knowledge positions, the large-scale organization would simply be absurd and impossible.
The needs of large-scale organization have to be satisfied by common people achieving uncommon performance.
This is what the effective executive has to make himself able to do.
Though this goal is a modest one, one that everyone should be able to reach if he works at it, the self-development of an effective executive is true development of the person.
It goes from mechanics to attitudes, values and character, from procedure to commitment. …
Self-development of the executive toward effectiveness is the only available answer.
It is the only way in which organization goals and individual needs can come together.
The executive who works at making strengths productive—his own as well as those of others—works at making organizational performance compatible with personal achievement.
He works at making his knowledge area become organizational opportunity.
And by focusing on contribution, he makes his own values become organization results.
The manual worker, so at least the nineteenth century believed, had only economic goals and was content with economic rewards.
That, as the “human relations” school demonstrated, was far from the whole truth.
It certainly ceased to be true the moment pay went above the subsistence level.
The knowledge worker demands economic rewards too.
Their absence is a deterrent.
But their presence is not enough.
He needs opportunity, he needs achievement, he needs fulfillment, he needs values.
Only by making himself an effective executive can the knowledge worker obtain these satisfactions.
Only executive effectiveness can enable this society to harmonize its two needs: the needs of organization to obtain from the individual the contribution it needs, and the need of the individual to have organization serve as his tool for the accomplishment of his purposes.
Effectiveness must be learned.
Introduction: What Makes An Effective Executive?
An effective executive does not need to be a leader in the sense that the term is now most commonly used.
Harry Truman did not have one ounce of charisma, for example, yet he was among the most effective chief executives in U.S. history.
Similarly, some of the best business and nonprofit CEOs I’ve worked with over a 65-year consulting career (twenty years after the first part was written) were not stereotypical leaders.
They were all over the map in terms of their personalities, attitudes, values, strengths, and weaknesses.
They ranged from extroverted to nearly reclusive, from easy-going to controlling, from generous to parsimonious.
What made them all effective is that they followed the same eight practices:
They asked, “What needs to be done?”
“I’ve seen a great many people who are exceedingly good at execution, but exceedingly poor at picking the important things.
They are magnificent at getting the unimportant things done.
They have an impressive record of achievement on trivial matters” — PFD
A foundation for future directed decisions is essential
What do I know that might apply to this task?
Take a tour
about Management (a shock to the system)
Without an effective mission statement there will be no performance
Peter Drucker On Leadership
What Needs to Be Done
Check Your Performance
The Rise of the Modern Multinational
21st Century Organizations
How To Lead a 21st Century Organization
Prisoner of Your Own Organization
How Organizations Fall Down
The Transition from Entrepreneur to Large Company CEO
How Capable Leaders Blow It
The Danger Of Charisma
How To Reinvigorate People
Familiarity with TLN key links landscape would be a good foundation.
Drucker books with more landscape: Toward tomorrows; Time Related Management Books; Essay Collections
What Executives Should Remember
The Definitive Drucker
Managing in the Next Society
Management Challenges for the 21st Century
Management, Revised Edition
They asked, “What is right for the enterprise?”
See effective missions + continuity and change for starters
More thinking is required here
They developed action plans.
They took responsibility for decisions.
They took responsibility for communicating.
They were focused on opportunities rather than problems.
They ran productive meetings.
They thought and said “we” rather than “I.”
The first two practices gave them the knowledge they needed.
The next four helped them convert this knowledge into effective action.
The last two ensured that the whole organization felt responsible and accountable.
We’ve just reviewed eight practices of effective executives. I’m going to throw in one final, bonus practice. This one’s so important that I’ll elevate it to the level of a rule: Listen first, speak last.
Effective Executive Contents
See What Executives Should Remember for a broader “work” radar.
See The Effective Executive for a detailed outline.
See Effective Executive preview for a dynamic outline of The Effective Executive.
See The Effective Executive in Action for an initial “workbook” approach.
For a broader “life” frame see Living in more than one world : how Peter Drucker’s wisdom can inspire your life by Bruce Rosenstein.
The Daily Drucker is an even more comprehensive “radar” loading resource.
Early career work and Managing Oneself are basic foundations.
Consider the resources above along side Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?: Leading a Great Enterprise through Dramatic Change (the IBM turnaround) by Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. This comparison provides a “time-scape” view of our unfolding social world.
Please consider calendarizing these books and the other concepts on this page. Reading is useless without applying. Applying ain’t easy—think corporate crisis stories.
This work is the doorway to a genuinely interesting life.
The following ↓ is a condensed strategic brainscape that can be explored and modified to fit a user’s needs
The concepts and links below ↓ are …
major foundations ↓ for future directed decisionS
aimed at navigating
a world constantly moving toward unimagined futureS ↓
YouTube: The History of the World in Two Hours
— beginning with the industrial revolution ↑ ↓
We can only work on the thingS on our mental radar ↑ at a point in time ↓
About time ↓ The future that has already happened
The economic and social health of our world
our capacity to navigate unimagined futureS
(and not be prisoners of the past)
The assumption that tomorrow is going to be
an extrapolation of yesterday sabotages the future — an
organization’s, a community’s and a nation’s future.
The future is unpredictable and that means
it ain’t going to be like today
(which was designed yesterday)
The capacity to navigate is governed by what’s between our ears ↓
When we are involved in doing something ↑
it is extremely difficult to navigate
and very easy to become a prisoner of the past.
We need to maintain a pre-thought ↓
systematic approach to work and work approach ↓
Click on either side of the image below to see a larger view
based on reality →
the non-linearity of time and events
and the unpredictability of the future
with its unimagined natureS. ↓ ↑
(It’s just a matter of time before we can’t get to the future
from where we are presently)
larger view ↓
Intelligence and behavior ↑ ↓ ← Niccolò Machiavelli ↑ ↓
Political ecologists believe that the traditional disciplines define fairly narrow and limited tools rather than meaningful and self-contained areas of knowledge, action, and events … continue
❡ ❡ ❡
Foundational ↑ Books → The Lessons of History — unfolding realities (the need for a political and social theory and toward a theory of organizations) ::: The Essential Drucker — your horizons? ::: Textbook of Wisdom — conceptual vision and imagination tools ::: The Daily Drucker — conceptual breadth ::: Management Cases (Revised Edition) see chapter titles for examples of “named” situations …
What do these ideas, concepts, horizons mean for me? continue
Exploration paths → The memo they don’t want you to see ::: Peter Drucker — top of the food chain ::: Work life foundations (links to Managing Oneself) ::: A century of social transformation ::: Post-capitalist executive ::: Allocating your life ::: What executives should remember ::: What makes an effective executive? ::: Innovation ::: Drucker’s “Time” and “Toward tomorrowS” books ::: Concepts (a WIP) ::: Site map a.k.a. brainscape, thoughtscape, timescape
Just reading ↑ is not enough, harvesting and action thinking are needed … continue
Information ↑ is not enough, thinking ↓ is needed … first then next
Larger view of thinking principles ↑ Text version ↑ :::
Always be constructive ↑ What additional thinking is needed?
Initially and absolutely needed: the willingness and capacity to
regularly look outside of current mental involvements continue
Keywords and tags: career-evolution career-change career-early-work career-knowledge-worker career-management career-skills career-education tlnkweffectiveexecutive