Peter Drucker on The Effective Executive

Ultimately, leadership is all about ability to act on the ideas. In that sense, anyone who thinks of the self as a leader has to be good at executing things. Probably a reason why top leaders in organizations are referred to as executives – the one who executes, not just someone with a fancy title and corner office.

Leadership is a very broad term and leaders in organizations come in all shapes and sizes – from introverted to extraverted, charismatic to simple, people oriented versus task oriented and the differentiation goes on.

But Peter Drucker, whose work has played a defining role in my own growth as a manager and leader, identified eight practices of effective executive based on his observations over 65 years of his consulting career.

The June 2004 article by Peter Drucker in Harvard Business titled “What Makes an Effective Executive” is a must read, if you are a student  of leadership.

Here’s a short snippet of 8 characteristics along with a quick sketch note.

What made them all effective is that they followed the same eight practices:

  • They asked, “What needs to be done?”
  • They asked, “What is right for the enterprise?”
  • They developed action plans.
  • They took responsibility for decisions.
  • They took responsibility for communicating.
  • They were focused on opportunities rather than problems.
  • They ran productive meetings.
  • They thought and said “we” rather than “I.”

The first two practices gave them the knowledge they needed. The next four helped them convert this knowledge into effective action. The last two ensured that the whole organization felt responsible and accountable.

– Peter Drucker, What Makes an Effective Executive

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Leadership Thoughts from Peter Drucker

I came across a book from Peter Drucker titled “Managing For The Future” published in 1992. The power of great writing is that it is timeless. I read this old book and still enjoyed reading it because ideas presented in the book (specially on Leadership) are still very relevant today.

The shape of corporate organizations has changed between 1992 and now. The nature of work has changed drastically too – we are out of factory model and into the knowledge-oriented one. But the core principles of leadership have not changed.

Here are a few excerpts from the book that I particularly enjoyed:

“And nothing is noticed more quickly – and considered more significant – than a discrepancy between what executives preach and what they expect their associates to practice.”

“The Japanese recognize that there are really only two demands of leadership. ONE is to accept that rank does not confer privileges; it entails responsibilities. The OTHER is to acknowledge that leaders in an organization need to impose on themselves that congruence between deeds and words, between behavior and professed beliefs and values, that we call ‘personal integrity’.”

Essence of leadership is not ‘leadership qualities’ or ‘charisma’. Essence of leadership is ‘performance’.

“The leaders first task is to be the trumpet that sounds a clear sound”

Okay, so what does this mean for me?

Good that you asked. If you are a manager or leader at any position in an organization, here is what Mr. Drucker would want you to practice:

  • Do what you say and say what you do. When you are a leader, people carefully observe you. People try to derive some meaning from every small gesture of a leader. Make sure that your gestures enable people to derive a positive meaning. Keep your promises and be as authentic as you can.
  • When you are a leader, you are here to ‘serve’ your people. You serve your people and enable them when ‘leadership’ springs from your heart. But when it gets into your head, that is where problem starts!
  • Leadership is all about performance. You, as a leader, have to build an integrated team and empower them to deliver great results. Leadership is a means to an end. We don’t lead because we want to, or because of our charisma or because of (a romantic idea of) power that comes with leadership. We lead because we seek results.
  • An ambiguous leader leads an ambiguous team. Clarity in thoughts, words and actions is one of the most important aspect of leading others. When you lead, people depend on you to give directions to them. If your directions are ambiguous, you will easily mislead them. Clear directions are the ones which clarifies expected outcomes, expected behaviors and establishes priorities, standards. Clarity also means that all decisions/directions are aligned with organization’s mission and values.

Most of what Peter Drucker mentioned in his book is more of common sense (at least from today’s perspective). Practicing them consistently is difficult.

Have a fantastic Friday and a happy weekend!

Quotes to Energize Your Monday!

Once in a month, I spend some good time reading books at Crossword. It is not only an opportunity to read/buy some great books, but also to spend some quality time with myself thinking about what I read there. The ambience at Crossword is so good for reading, I have to push myself out. I got some great books on Quality, Management, Self-Help and Motivation.

As we start the week, I thought of sharing some inspiration from the book “The Treasure – Essence from World’s Greatest Motivational And Self-Help Gurus”. This book is a brilliant compilation of great thoughts from all time great authors and coaches. Here are 7 gems to wish you a great start into the week –

  • “A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is caring, sharing person inside” – Denis Waitley (Success Coach)
  • “Excellence always sells” –Earl Nightingale (Success Coach)
  • “For true success, ask yourselves these four questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now?” – James Allen (Success Coach)
  • “It is important to remember that we are energy. Einstein told us that. And energy cannot be created or destroyed, it just changes form” – Rhonda Byrne (Discoverer of Secret)
  • “The best strategy for building a competitive organization is to help individuals become more of who they are” – Marcus Buckingham (Motivational Expert)
  • “How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.” – Wayne Dyer
  • “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” – Drucker

You might also like reading Collection of thoughts to have a GREAT start into the week! and (How to) Have a Great Monday!

Have a super-productive week ahead! Stay tuned for more posts this week.