What Makes an Effective Executive

What Makes an Effective Executive - by Peter F. Drucker #

Date Read: 2024-01-06 #

Notes #

The eight questions

The right questions to get the knowledge you need

  • “What needs to be done?”
    • choose the most important task. Reset priorities when original task completes. Others are delegated.
  • “What is right for the enterprise?”
    • especially for decisions about people in family owned businesses

Knowing what needs to be done, convert it into effective action

  • they developed action plans
    • how will I contribute? With what deadlines? Are they aligned with the values of the organization?
    • statement of intentions, reviewed with success/failure/opportunity/change in environment
    • check halfway (9 months) and at end (18 months)
    • without a plan, there will be no check-ins
  • they took responsibility for decisions
    • a decision is made when people know
      • the name of the person accountable for carrying it out
      • the deadline
      • the names of people who will be affected and hence need to know, understand, approve (or not be strongly opposed)
      • people who have to be informed even if they are not directly affected
    • decisions should be reviewed periodically, especially about people (6-9 months)
      • cover results to assumptions
    • decision review shows where your weaknesses are. In such areas, don’t take actions and delegate.
  • they took responsibility for communicating
    • share their plans and receive comments from everyone
    • identify the information that is needed and push to get it
  • they were focused on opportunities rather than problems
    • problem solving does not produce results. It prevents damage
    • change as opportunity for organization
      • unexpected success or failure in their own or competing enterprise
      • a gap in market, process, product, service
      • innovation in process, product, service inside or outside enterprise
      • change in industry or market
      • demographics
      • change in mindset, values, mood
      • new knowledge or technology
    • enterprise needs two lists and use it to match the best people to the best opportunities

The last two questions ensure the whole organization feels resposible and accountable

  • they ran productive meetings
    • decide what kind of meeting in advance
      • A meeting to prepare a statement, an announcement, or a press release. One member has to prepare a draft beforehand. At the meeting’s end, a preappointed member has to take responsibility for disseminating the final text.
      • A meeting to make an announcement. This meeting should be confined to the announcement and a discussion about it.
      • A meeting in which one member reports. Nothing but the report should be discussed.
      • A meeting in which several or all members report. Either there should be no discussion at all or the discussion should be limited to questions for clarification. Alternatively, for each report there could be a short discussion in which all participants may ask questions. If this is the format, the reports should be distributed to all participants well before the meeting. At this kind of meeting, each report should be limited to a preset time
      • A meeting to inform the convening executive. The executive should listen and ask questions. He or she should sum up but not make a presentation.
      • A meeting whose only function is to allow the participants to be in the executive’s presence. There is no way to make these meetings productive. Senior executives are effective to the extent to which they can prevent such meetings from encroaching on their workdays.
    • Making a meeting productive takes a good deal of self-discipline. It requires that executives determine what kind of meeting is appropriate and then stick to that format. Good executives don’t raise another matter for discussion. They sum up and adjourn.
    • Good meeting follow-up
  • they thought and said “we” rather than “I”
    • executives have ultimate responsibility. But they have authority only because they have the trust of the organization.