The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker is a book that is widely recognized for its outstanding content and insights that it provides to its readers. It was rated as one of the best business books by the Wall Street Journal. Drucker taught in various institutions and also provided consultative services. The book is a presentation of Drucker’s research and findings about managers and various organizations over a period of twenty years. He has also borrowed ideas from consultancy services that he provided. The book has remained relevant even till recent times and thus Drucker has come to be referred to as the father of management.
Drucker states that being effective can be learnt. Effectiveness is habitual and is acquired through practice. In other words, it is only through practice that one eases the way of doing things, and, as a result, achieves perfection. Apart from practicing, the method or technique used is extremely vital as it determines the level of effectiveness acquired. Just like mastering a multiplication table, one acquires efficiency by continuous practice so as to condition reflexes of a habit. According to Drucker (34), skills alone are not enough to increase productivity. It is essential to have a combination of commitment and effectiveness in whatever field one serves. Therefore, it is obvious that effectiveness is learnt and skills are gained with time and practice.
The author points out that the role of an executive is to execute. Therefore, every person in an organization is an executive because he or she plays a particular role in the organization. The executive has the knowledge and applies it in various duties that he performs in the organization. For this reason, the executive is also known as the knowledge worker. A knowledge worker must be self-motivated. Further, knowledge workers do not need to be supervised by superiors and the guidance that they get should be in the context of assistance or mentorship. Drucker identifies four factors that the executive has no power over, yet these factors make him/her less effective. These actors are outlined below.
1. Executives’ time is influenced by other things such as other workers or projects. Therefore, it is not his own.
2. Due to specialization, the executive may be bound to only one role in the organization. This role changes only when a radical change in the organization occurs and the executive now decides to run the whole organization.
3. Executive’s productivity is largely bound to the contributions of their colleagues. The organization is a large unit, which leverages on individual contributions of the staff.
4. Working solely within the organization limits the vision of executives. They become able to see only as far as the firm and thus fail to see the broader picture.
The above factors impede the work of an executive and can be overcome only by becoming more effective. Drucker states that effectiveness is a habit rather than a set of basic practices. He goes further to state five essential habits of an effective executive. These habits are presented further.
1.Time management. Executives must pay attention on how they use their time. Time is a fundamental constrain of any executive’s life, and they must manage this vital resource to be effective. Efficient time management can only be achieved through planning their work day and keeping a log of how they utilize their time. Drucker suggests structuring ones time in blocks. This does not necessarily take much time. It will depend on various factors such as one’s concentration span.
2.The second habit is concentrating on one’s contribution. Here Drucker emphasizes that the result justifies the means. He calls for the differentiation of business and effectiveness. For this reason executives are paid to ensure that only right objectives are achieved and not vice-versa (Drucker 154). The author says that the executive should aim at contributing to organization's success. This does not only relate to profits but also to issues such as increase of returns on investments. The executive must start with a broad outlook. He must assess his department and identify how it contributes to the organization. From there, he must look for ways how he can utilize his strengths to contribute to the department. While doing this, one should contribute by focusing their strength on unused potential. This way, resources are not wasted. Instead, they are fully utilized and enhance growth and productivity of an organization (Drucker 54).
3.The third habit is that of building on one’s strengths and shifting the focus away from weaknesses as they are irrelevant. People with extraordinary strengths also have considerable weaknesses. Drucker claims that hiring for absence weaknesses is mediocrity. Nobody can be perfect at everything. To achieve strength, one must put up with weakness (Drucker 87). If an executive knows that he/she does not have necessary strengths, then he should identify somebody who does and hire them or delegate the task to them. From here on, the executive must take responsibility for the individual. To properly benefit from strengths, the executive must match these strengths to various problems at hand. Drucker says that effective contribution solves problems of human interaction in the organization in several ways, which are outlined below.
- Communication in the organization is enhanced because working with other people requires communication as they seek to make a relevant contribution to the organization.
- Team work is also improved. People need to collaborate and communicate as the output of one worker becomes the input of the other.
- Self-development is fostered as the knowledge worker seeks to improve himself to contribute effectively. Such development includes enrolling in further studies among others.
- Self-development enhances individual development. It also sets standards for the organization.
1.Another habit is to focus on several areas, where exceptional performance will make a significant overall difference. This point highlights the importance of prioritizing roles. Effective executives do not prioritize many decisions at the same time. They only concentrate on the strength in order to increase efficiency and enhance productivity. This is why it is vital to analyze strengths and weaknesses in performance (Drucker 113). Drucker identifies concentration as an integral ingredient of effectiveness. Prioritizing one’s tasks and duties will lead to effectiveness, especially if they are performed with passion, discipline, and focus. Drucker goes on to identify elements that make prioritizing effective.
- He urges for one to let history guide one’s decisions. Managers should act in a way that has proved positive in the past and refrain from practices that have caused poor performance in the past.
- One should pay more attention to opportunity than to problems. This is because opportunities are future oriented, while problems are past oriented.
- Executives should set priorities with courage rather than intellectual information.
- Executives have to aim high and do things that will results in significant gains rather than those that are conservative and concerned with safety. This encourages executives to take risks.
2.The last habit that Drucker talks about is effective decision making. There are various ways to ensure that effective decisions are made.
- The executive needs to identify the decision as either generic or unique. Generic issues usually already have solutions, while unique ones need to be thought through.
- The aim for the decision must be identified.
- Boundaries of the decision must be set.
- It is important to make a decision that is right rather than the one that is acceptable.
- Implement the decision. Without implementation it only remains a wish.
- Put in place a feedback mechanism to know whether the decision was right.
A decision is made between choices and starts with a problem and hypothesis. Effective executives do not make hasty decisions, especially when allocating funds in productive projects (Drucker 113). Overall, I find this book to be particularly insightful and informative. The content of the book is highly relevant in today’s management field. Drucker presents his ideas in a clear manner. However, I would like to disagree with what he says on weakness. One’s weaknesses should not be totally ignored because they eventually pop up in one's work. As much as we should focus on one’s strengths, we should also try to deal with weaknesses since they will eventually reflect in one’s work.
The book is unique as it does not have the monotonous “5 ways to effectiveness” language. The discussion is remarkably well built with the flow of points being supported by findings of various case studies. The book is exceedingly dense, and one should take their time to be able to synthesize its contents. I think it would be tremendously helpful to those that are moving from a technical field to a managerial one. It is relevant and has certainly stood the test of time due to author’s broad outlook. He sees organizational structure as a part of societal structure. Effectiveness is crucial for man's self-development, societal growth, and organization development (Drucker 170). As the subtitle of the book suggests, it is not only about profits but also about social commitment that an organization should have. The book is an excellent source of ideas that can be implemented in practice.