The Effective Executive:
The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done

Focus on being effective by setting clear priorities, enable strengths, and make weaknesses irrelevant.

Author: Peter Drucker
Topic: Leadership
Print | Ebook

⭐ Key Notes

5 habits

  1. Know Thy Time.
  2. Focus on Contribution.
  3. Make Strengths Productive.
  4. First Things First.
  5. Effective Decisions.

8 practices

  1. Ask β€œWhat needs to be done?”
  2. Ask β€œWhat is right for the enterprise?”
  3. Develop action plans.
  4. Take responsibility for decisions.
  5. Take responsibility for communicating.
  6. Focus on opportunities rather than problems.
  7. Run productive meetings.
  8. Think and say β€œwe” rather than β€œI”.

πŸ‘¨πŸ»β€πŸ« Chapter 1: Effectiveness Can be Learned

  • Effectiveness converts resources into results – intelligence, imagination, and knowledge.
  • Most knowledge workers are executives – if responsible for a contribution that materially affects the organisation.
  • Knowledge work is defined by results – not quantity or costs.
  • If the resource of a suply cannot be increased, we must increase its yield.
  • Effectiveness is a habit.

5 habits of an effective executive

  1. Know Thy Time – know where your time goes and manage it systematically.
  2. Focus on Contribution – think what can I contribute?
  3. Make Strengths Productive – build on strengths – your own and the people around you.
  4. First Things First – concentrate on a few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results.
  5. Effective Decisions – develop systems, the right steps in the right sequence.

βŒ› Chapter 2: Know Thy Time

  1. Record – find out where your time goes.
  2. Manage – cut back on unproductive demands.
  3. Consolidate – discretionary time into the largest possible continuing units.


  • Use a time-log to record record time allocation.
  • Records should be made in real time – not from memory.
  • Use your time log to rethink and rework your schedule.


Get rid of time-wasters

  1. Eliminatewhat would happen if this were not done at all?
  2. Delegatewhich of the activities in my time log could be done by someone else just as well, if not better?
  3. Control what do I do that wastes your time without contributing to your effectiveness?

Causes of time-loss

  1. Lack of system or foresight – any crisis should not recur a second time. Eliminate all recurring problems.
  2. Overstaffing – a large workforce increases the amount of time interacting, rather than working.
  3. Malorganisation – when everybody meets all the time, nobody gets anything done. Avoid unnecessary meetings.
  4. Malfunction in information – be thoroughly prepared and do your homework.


  • Consolidate the time that is normally available and under your control.
  • Work at home at least once per week.
  • Schedule all operating work for two days per week.
  • Set aside the morning of remaining days for work on major issues.
  • Set deadlines for important activities.

🧩 Chapter 3: What Can I Contribute?

Organisations need performance in three areas

  1. Direct results.
  2. Building of values and their reaffirmations.
  3. Developing people for tomorrow.

Ask of yourself

  1. What is the most important contribution I can make to the performance of this organisation?
  2. What development do I need?
  3. What knowledge and skill do I have to acquire?
  4. What strengths do I have to put to work?
  5. What standards do I have to set myself?

Effective mettings

  1. Know what to expect from a meeting.
  2. State a specific purpose from the outset.
  3. After the meeting – relate the final conclusions to the original intent.

πŸ’ͺ🏼 Chapter 4: Making Strength Productive

Staffing from strength

  • Make staffing decisions to maximise strengths – not minimise weakness.
  • Any job that has defeated multiple good performers in succession, must be redesigned.
  • Make each job demanding and big.
  • Start with what someone can do, rather than what a job requires.
  • To get strength, one has to put up with weakness.
  • Staff the opportunities, not the problems.

Make your boss productive

  • Enable strengths and make weaknesses irrelevant:
  • What can my boss do really well?
  • What has he done really well?
  • What does he need to know to use his strength?
  • What does he need to get from me to perform?

Make yourself effective

  • What are the things that I seem to be able to do with relative ease, while they are hard for others?
  • Build on what you can do well.

❗ Chapter 5: First Things First

Sloughing off yesterday

  • Periodically review work programs.
  • If we did not already do this, would we get into it now? – if no, curtail it sharply
  • Is this still worth doing?
  • Eliminate unndcessary tasks to concentrate on the few that will have the greatest impact.
  • Systematic sloughing off the old is the only way to force the new.

Priorities and posteriorities

  • There are always more opportunities and an abundance of problems.
  • Decide which tasks deserve priority.
  • Either the executive maakes the decision, or external pressures.
  • If pressures dictate priorities – improtant tasks will be sacrificed.
  • Posteriorities – decide what tasks not to tackle, and stick to the decision.

Identify priorities

  • Focus on priority – not the problem.
  • Choose your own direction – rather tahn climb on the bandwagon.
  • Aim high, aim at something that will make a difference – not the safe and easy route.
  • Pick the future – do not dwell on the past.

πŸ§ͺ Chapter 6: The Elements of Decision Making

  • Focus on a few important decisions.
  • Effective executives do not make many decisions, they concentrate on the important ones.
  • The action to carry out a decision should be done at the lowest possible level.

5 elements of the decision process

  1. Is this a generic situation, ot an exception?
  2. Establish clear boundary conditions as to what the decision must accomplish.
  3. Start with what is right, rather than what is acceptable.
  4. Convert the decision into action.
  5. Build feedback into the decision.

πŸ’Ž Chapter 7: Effective Decisions

  • A decision is a choice between alterntaives – not between right and wrong.
  • You start with opinions, not facts.
  • Search for the facts instead of using your opinion for confirmation bias.
  • Encourage opinion – what do we need to know to test the validity of this hypothesis?
  • Find the appropriate measurement – what is the criterion for relevance?
  • Obtain feedback to reinforce the decision.
  • One does not make a decision unless there is disagreement.
  • View the opposition as an opportunity to think through the alternatives.
  • Is a decision really necessary – doing nothing is always an option.
  • What will happen if we do nothing?

πŸ“Ή Video Summary

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *