The Effective Executive – Peter Drucker Book Summary

The Effective Executive – Peter Drucker | Free Book Summary

The Effective Executive – Peter Drucker

Gold advice on leadership and decision-making.

Brilliance Vs Hard Work

Brilliant men are often strikingly ineffectual; they fail to realize that brilliant insight is not by itself an achievement.

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They never learned that insights become effective only through hard, systematic work.

Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge are essential resources, but only effectiveness converts them into results. By themselves, they only set limits to what can be achieved.

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Effectiveness: Better Results

If one cannot increase the supply of a resource, one must increase its yield. And effectiveness is the one tool to make the resources of ability and knowledge yield more and better results.

Knowledge work is not defined by quantity. Neither is knowledge work defined by its costs. Knowledge work is defined by its results.

The Flow Of Events

If the executive lets the flow of events determine what he does, what he works on, and what he takes seriously, he will fritter himself away simply “operating.” He may be excellent, but he is certain to waste his knowledge and ability and throw away what little effectiveness he might have achieved.

The Universal Incompetent

What seems to be wanted is universal genius, and universal genius has always been in scarce supply. The human race’s experience strongly suggests that the only person in plentiful supply is the universally incompetent.

Therefore, we have to staff our organizations with people who, at their best, excel in one of these abilities.

Managing Time

  • Effective executives do not start with their tasks. 
  • They start with their time. 
  • They do not start out with planning. 
  • They start by finding out where their time actually goes. Then they attempt to manage their time and cut back unproductive demands on their time. 
  •  Finally, they consolidate their “discretionary” time into the largest possible continuing units.

Time is the most valuable resource, as one can hire great people but cannot rent, hire, buy or obtain more time.

The First Step

The first step toward executive effectiveness is to track actual time spent.

Systematic time management is therefore the next logical step.

One has to find nonproductive, time-wasting activities and get rid of them if one possibly can.

This requires asking oneself a number of diagnostic questions.


Effective executives have learned to ask systematically and without coyness, “What do I do that wastes your time without contributing to your effectiveness?” To ask this question and to ask it without being afraid of the truth is a mark of an effective executive.

The Team Contribution

To ask, “What can I contribute?” is to look for the unused potential in the job. And what is considered excellent performance in many positions is often but a pale shadow of the job’s full potential of contribution.

Every organization needs performance in three major areas: It needs direct results; building of values and their reaffirmation; and building and developing people for tomorrow.

He always, at the end of his meetings, goes back to the opening statement and relates the final conclusions to the original intent.

Secrets Of Effectiveness

The one secret to effectiveness is concentration. Effective executives do first things first, and they do one thing at a time.

They are then able to “do so many things,” apparently including many difficult ones. They do only one at a time. 

Effective executives do not race. They set an easy pace but kept going steadily.

Learning Effectiveness

One can be an effective executive by:

  • Recording where the time goes.
  • Focusing your vision on contribution.
  • Making your strengths productive and focus on using them.
  • Prioritizing the most important things first, not necessarily the most urgent.
  • Taking rational action.
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