I recently listened to the audiobook to Peter Drucker’s book entitled the Effective Executive. Here are my key take aways as to what makes an executive effective.

  1. They ask what needs to be done?
    • Do not ask “what do I want to do?”
    • Concentrate on just one task, two at most, and never more than two at a time.
    • Set priorities and stick to them.
    • After completing tasks 1 and 2, instead of moving on to number 3 ask again what needs to be done as new opportunities may present themselves.
  2. They ask what is right for the Enterprise?
    • Not what is right for stock holders, employees, or themselves.
    • A decision not right for the enterprise will eventually result in something that isn’t right for anyone.
    • It won’t guarantee the right decision will be made, but failure to ask the question guarantees the wrong decision.
  3. They develop action plans.
    • Knowledge is useless unless you translate that into action.
    • Before springing into action, plot a course of how you want to get there.
    • Think about desired results, constraints, restraints, check-in points, and implications.
    • The action plan is a statement of intention rather a commitment.
    • It shouldn’t be ridged in that once sealed you’re locked in.
    • It should be revised often as actions result in new opportunities.
    • Time is the most scarce and valuable resource.
    • Use check-ins to examine results vs. expectations, and revise the path.
    • Without an Action Plan you are a victim of events.
  4. They take responsibility for decisions.
    • Decisions require an owner, deadline, those affected by it, those who need to approve it (or at least not oppose it), and those who need to be informed.
    • People decisions (hiring and promotion) are one of the most important decisions.
    • 1/3rd of people decisions have the desired positive result.
    • The conclusion to make in cases where a people decision didn’t work out is that management made the wrong decision by not putting the right person in the right place (as opposed to viewing the person as “bad”).
    • If someone is promoted into a job where they are underperforming, it may very well not be their fault as it wasn’t their decision to be placed in such a role. So if it’s not working out, offer them the previous job they held where they were successful. Odds are they won’t go for it, but it does send the message to the organization that it’s ok to take career growth risks.
    • After making a people decision, set a check-in date to re-evaluate if it’s working.
  5. They take responsibility for communicating.
    • Effective executives make sure their action plans and informational needs are understood.
    • Executives need to make sure that subordinates have access to the information they need.
  6. They are focused on opportunities instead of problems.
    • Problems can’t be swept under the rug, so don’t ignore them.
    • However problem solving doesn’t produce results, it just prevents damage.
    • Exploiting opportunity produces results.
    • Changes present opportunities. For example changes in market conditions, economic conditions, consumer behavior, etc…
    • Don’t let problems overwhelm opportunities. Find a way to promote opportunities over problems.
    • Put your best people on opportunities instead of problems.
  7. They run productive meetings.
    • Make meetings work sessions (vs. a blab-a-thon).
    • Decide in advance what kind of meeting it will be (press release, team meeting, etc…) as your preparations will differ, and what the desired result of the meeting should be.
    • Terminate the meeting the moment the objective of the meeting  has been completed. Don’t introduce additional topics.
    • At the beginning of a meeting, state its purpose.
    • Follow up with meeting notes summarizing decisions, assignments, owners of each task, and deadlines.
  8. They thought/said “we” instead of “I”.
    • An executive only has authority because they have the trust of the organization.
    • The needs of the organization come before the executive.
  9. They listen first / speak last

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *