What Does It Take To Become An Effective Executive?

Who is an Executive?

Peter Drucker’s seminal book on management, The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (1967 & 2006), was quoted in a Fast Company article, “Who Is an Executive?” Drucker said, “I have called ‘executives’ those knowledge workers, managers, or individual professionals who are expected, by virtue of their position or their knowledge, to make decisions in the normal course of their work that have an impact on the performance and results of the enterprise.”

The Essential Drucker

All modern theories of management, traced to their source, eventually lead to Peter Drucker. The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management (2008), is an edited collection of the best of sixty years of Drucker’s most influential thoughts and writing about the practice of management. Drucker believed the manager is the central element in every business, responsible for organizing resources and ensuring they’re used to maximum effect.

In Part One: Management, Drucker makes the bold claim that not knowing how to manage is the single largest reason for the failure of a new venture. He then outlines the three primary functions of management: managing the business, managing other managers, and managing subordinates, and how setting clear objectives and measures is absolutely essential to the success of the firm.

It’s The Manager

Decades of research by The Gallup Organization validating Drucker’s teachings are presented in the book, It’s The Manager: Gallup finds the quality of managers and team leaders is the single biggest factor in your organization’s long-term success.1st Edition (2019). Co-authors Jim Clifton, Chairman and Jim Harter, Chief Scientist at Gallup answer the question, “Who is the most important person in your organization. . .? It’s your managers. They’re the ones who make or break your organization’s success.” They further discover two non-negotiable traits. They must know how to bring teams together and make great decisions.

Knowledge Workers

In Part Two of The Essential Drucker: The Individual, Drucker begins by emphasizing that to be effective is the job of the knowledge worker. He adds that whether he or she works in a business or in a hospital, or in a government agency, the knowledge worker is, first of all, expected to get the right things done. And this means simply that the knowledge worker is expected to be effective; which Drucker first mentioned in The Effective Executive over 40 years earlier.

Effectiveness Must Be Learned

If the supply of a resource cannot be increased (good people), the yield must be increased (highly engaged top talent). And effectiveness is the one tool to make the resources of ability and knowledge yield more. Because effectiveness is crucial it deserves high priority. Drucker and many others, claim effectiveness is a habit; that is a complex of practices. All habits and practices are developed by intentional, focused repetition. Drucker concludes by saying,”There is, in other words, no reason why anyone with normal endowment should not acquire competence in any practice. Mastery might well allude him; for that one might need special talents. But what is needed to be effective is competence. What is needed are the ‘scales’ [as in practicing the piano].”

Managing Oneself

In his classic Harvard Business review article, “Managing Oneself”, Peter Drucker said, “Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves – their strengths, their values, and how they best operate.” This points to the importance of mastering your inner game. For this reason, The Mastering Your Inner Game™ process includes assessments that measure what Drucker was referring to in his article.

Next Issue: Mastering Your Inner Game

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