Eulogizing Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive


There are a number of blog posts and articles about essential business books. “Ten books everyone entering the working world should read,” and such.

I only have two.

One, Getting Things Done, I’ve already talked about quite a bit here. Just about everyone needs some way to organize their work. GTD does a great job of explaining what you need to track (and what you don’t).

But today, I want to write about Peter Drucker’s The Effective Executive. Drucker’s the best writer on business and management I’ve ever read, and this is my favorite of his books. It’s also the most directly helpful to regular workers.

First, an explanation: By “Executive,” Drucker’s referring to anyone in an organization who executes. So, the book’s aimed at those who work with their brain, which seems to be a large majority of the work force these days.

The book is a rumination on—and a set of advice for—knowledge workers. We have to be responsible for our own work, while also fitting into a larger organization. We have to manage our own time, while respecting time restraints placed on us. We have to be independent and lead, appropriately.

Here are a few of his insights:

  • Effective executives ask “What needs to be done?” and “What’s right for this company?”
  • Take responsibility for communicating
  • Take responsibility for decisions, and make some
  • Run highly efficient and productive meetings
  • Think “we” instead of “I”

Which sounds like standard business advice. But each one of these (and more) are accompanied by in-depth thought and advice. There’s plenty of analysis of what this means, and all of it is clear and concise.

The book’s amazingly valuable, if just to help one re-think one’s place and responsibilities.

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