Sometimes I wonder what causes me to choose the books I read. I know of my tendency to pick non-fiction work that has a direct connection to what’s happening in my life. As I’ve written many times before in my posts, books are my teachers and my guides. I’m surprised then that though I have heard about management guru, Peter F. Drucker, for many years, it wasn’t until a few days before 2015 was over that I finally read one of his books, The Effective Executive.
And boy am I glad I did.
Drucker doesn’t just validate the need for companies to prioritize Leadership Development, or as he states, ‘learning effectiveness’, but is emphatic in his claim that, ‘Self Development of the effective executive is central to the development of the organization…It is the way toward performance of the organization.’ Yes, so true! The year was 1966 when he wrote these words, but so much of what he shares is prophetic and applicable today.
In a style of writing that took some getting used to (think a strict adherence to the pronoun ‘he’ and cultural references that sometimes eluded me), he details in each chapter the five essential habits or practices that an employee can learn to become effective. They are:
1. ‘Effective executives know where their time goes.’
2. ‘Effective executives focus on outward contribution.’
3. ‘Effective executives build on strengths…’
4. ‘Effective executives concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results.’
5. ‘Effective executives…make effective decisions’
Now to be clear, he isn’t only referring to senior management when he uses the term ‘executive.’ He explains that the term includes ‘knowledge workers’ or essentially those employees that rely on their specialized knowledge to make decisions that can have an impact on the performance of the organization they work for. He correctly predicts that most employees will be knowledge workers in the future and his emphasis on strengths, not weaknesses precedes the fame of the self-assessment, StrengthFinder by decades!
After finishing the book I had a newfound reverence for Peter Drucker. In the world of Human Resources, there is a tendency to constantly prove your work’s worth (especially the work that he promotes such as the training and development aspects). Some HR professionals today are almost apologetic about their ‘soft’ skills and about serving as only a ‘cost center’ to the company, but he proves emphatically and confidently that this work when done right is most essential. With just one book I now understand how he gained management guru status.
Perhaps it was a coincidence that I picked this book to read, but I like to call it fate. Thank you, Peter Drucker! Your legacy lives on!