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

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  32,374 ratings  ·  934 reviews
What makes an effective executive?

The measure of the executive, Peter F. Drucker reminds us, is the ability to "get the right things done." This usually involves doing what other people have overlooked as well as avoiding what is unproductive. Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge may all be wasted in an executive job without the acquired habits of mind that mold them i
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 3rd 2006 by Harper Business (first published 1966)
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Pavel Bakunovich Man, sorry the answer is coming a bit late :) Here are the chapters:
1. Effectiveness Can Be Learnt
2. Know Thy Time
3. What Can I Contribute?
4. Making S…more
Man, sorry the answer is coming a bit late :) Here are the chapters:
1. Effectiveness Can Be Learnt
2. Know Thy Time
3. What Can I Contribute?
4. Making Strength Productive
5. First Things First
6. The Elements of Decison Making
7. Effective Decisions(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  32,374 ratings  ·  934 reviews

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Andrew Canavan
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Stop reading boring blogs and books about productivity and go straight to the source of many of these ideas. Then, stop thinking about being productive and go do something.
Mar 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I used to be a large reader of Jack Welch practices at GE, until I read that he looked to Drucker. I've been reading Drucker and re-reading Drucker ever since. He is the master at learning how to be "effective" and from him, I learned how to filter what are the best effectiveness 21st century leadership practices.

Now, after 14 years of running a company and 8 years of trying to create a leadership engine to run a company, I believe that the 21st century practices for effectiveness in order of s
Gene Babon
Dec 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: leadership
No one in a managerial role should be allowed to manage others without having read at least one book from Peter Drucker. Drucker is widely acclaimed as The Father of Modern Management and published 39 books in a lifetame that spanned 95 years. The Effective Executive was published in 1967 and this book is as good a starting point as any for the uninitiated.

Effectiveness is a habit and habits can be learned through practice, lots of it. According to Drucker there are five habits that, once acquir
Jun 14, 2016 rated it did not like it
I'm pretty sure that if we'd ever met in real life I'd have punched Peter Drucker in the face. This book epitomises everything that I hate about productivity porn. It should be subtitled the definitive guide to squeezing every last drop of blood out of your workers. ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adding this book to my list of must-reads for anyone working in corporate America. In brief:

1. Know where your time goes; relentlessly prune unproductive activities.
2. Know the contribution you're expected to make - to others' contributions and to the organization.
3. Make your strengths productive and hone them; focus on the absence of weakness leads to mediocrity.
4. There are always more opportunities available than time to pursue them – prioritize and focus on the truly impactful.
5. Continuall
Laura Noggle
Jun 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, nonfiction, business
Good reminder of the basic fundamentals of time management.

“The people who get nothing done often work a great deal harder. In the first place, they underestimate the time for any one task. They always expect that everything will go right. Yet, as every executive knows, nothing ever goes right. The unexpected always happens—the unexpected is indeed the only thing one can confidently expect.”

“If there is any one 'secret' of effectiveness, it is concentration. Effective executives do first things
Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
I find Drucker to be really repetitive. There were quite a few sentences that didn't really add anything, and should have been taken out. ...more
Tõnu Vahtra
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Don't tell me that you had a wonderful time reading this book, tell me what you are going to do differently on Monday". The higher up the organization, the less time he has under his own control (senior executives rarely have more than quarter of their time under their control), so you have to take control of your time. Understand what are the things that waste your time without contributing to effectiveness. Ask your subordinates how you are preventing them from doing their work effectively.

Mark Dunn
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Know Thy Time
- take a time inventory & eliminate "need not be done", "could be done by others", and "wasting other's time".
- prune time wasters
- lack of systems --> crisis
- overstaffing --> unnecessary coordination
- malorganization --> excessive mtgs
- malfunction in information
- consolidate discretionary time into meaningful chunks to facilitate effectiveness (eg 1.5 hr)

What can I contribute?
- in terms of EXTERNAL results
- aim high

Making strengths productive
- focus on indvidual STR
Tadas Talaikis
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Don't know what's the hype about this book, it's simple common sense. Anyone who ever was in "meeting" knows its waste of time, why I should read book about that? The thing executives come in various shapes and sizes was mentioned in various other, earlier books. Management books are second after self help nonsense. Sad, no one over-hypes evidence or data based approaches... ...more
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, management
I loved this book - so packed with wisdom that I moved through it slowly, filing away many quotes for reference.

There are two main thoughts which might dissuade you from reading this. I don’t want you to miss out, so I’d like to address both:

“Effective Executive? This sounds like it's only for people who wear suits and spend their days in board meetings..."

The author defines executive broadly as someone who "is responsible for a contribution that materially affects the capacity of the organizati
Eric Chappell
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-reading
A fantastic resource. Seminaries (often) do a phenomenal job of equipping people to be experts in the Word. Where most are weak is training church leaders to be time-managers, meeting-facilitators, action-planners, decision-makers, and priority-setters. These are all the products of general wisdom and stuff that can be learned from a wide variety of "secular" sources (see Proverbs). Peter Drucker's classic has literally changed the way I think about scheduling my time, choosing priorities, and t ...more
Chris Russell
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Effective Executive – Peter E. Drucker
Book Review for Goodreads.
Originally published 1967. Edition read was Harper Business, 1993.
I’m too young to have been part of the Drucker Generation. I had always heard him talked of and quoted among the staid and dusty corners of mainstream business, but I never thought to reach back and read him. Drucker’s words and ideas were the Esperanto of an emerging class in the business world of post WWII. He was part and parcel of important board room convers
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Just like most of them, this book has too many words for 5 or so ideas. The conclusion at the very end sums everything up, so you don't have to read the whole book, just read the last few pages. ...more
Guilherme Zeitounlian
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a short read, and not the most engaging one (it's not a page-turner by any means).

But it is a classic, full of insights.

It was written decades ago, but the advice is timeless.

Great resource and food for thought for all the "knowledge workers" out there - which means most of us.

Great books are not always fun. But they can be transformative. And that is the whole point. 5/5.
Sri Shivananda
A timeless Peter Drucker classic on time-tested aspects of strategy, planning, decision making, delegation, communicating, meeting management, and collaboration in being an effective executive. I like doing a periodic refresh of such books.
Mindaugas Mozūras
Sep 03, 2016 rated it liked it
The Effective Executive is filled with good advice. Peter Ducker predicts the importance of knowledge workers and recognizes that everyone will become an "executive" (as he defines it). The advice in this book is useful to most anyone working in a modern company.

Alas, there are two problems with the book that stop me from full-heartedly recommending this book:

* It's dated, and it shows. There's a lot of repetition and flowery language.
* I've already read "The Effective Engineer" (one of my favor
Nov 04, 2019 rated it liked it
To be more effective, read an executive summary rather than the entire book.
Jackiee Carbery
Feb 08, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF - I couldn’t get past the sexism once I realized it. It only refers to executives and leaders as men.
Apr 10, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book out in the wild and, overcome by morbid curiosity, I decided to look into what the wannabe hustlers are fetishizing, and I am glad I did so. Oh, what a delightful bunch of boomer ideas! I can see how these ideas brought us to where we are today.

I am sure that CEOs all across the world have this book on their night stand. I can also see freshly minted MBAs are swallowing heaps of this gobbledygook of a message on effectiveness and decision making. While the fantasy of a a steely
Jan 31, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
I've had this book since I was in college, but never got around to reading it. I think it was actually very insightful. It talks about how you can learn to be an effective executive. Basically, it's about the person themselves learning to manage their time and make effective decisions rather than focusing on how to manage other people. I thought the time management chapter was probably the most useful. I know I struggle with time management. Also, I thought the concentrating chapter about how to ...more
Niklas Heer
Jan 15, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although the book was first released in 1967, the ideas in this book still hold up today.
I found the clarity of the ideas and the principles very helpful.
I can recommend this book to everyone in a Leadership position or people interested in the topic.
Yevgeniy Brikman
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This isn't a book on how to manage others, but how to manage yourself. Some parts feel a little dated (especially the language in the book and assumption all "executives" are male), some parts are obvious (though I learned many of them the hard way, so perhaps if I'd read this earlier in my career, it would've saved me some pain!), and some parts contain gems that are well worth reading.

A few of my favorite take aways:

* The executive is a hostage to their organization. The executive's time belon
Eric Morse
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Drucker’s Effective Executive was one of the first great business books, and has remained significant for generations. Part of what makes it so convincing even fifty years after its publication (originally published in 1966) is the fact that it was so far-sighted to begin with. Drucker was one of the first to explore the consequences of the computer and automation, and most of his insights have become manifest in the last several years. It might be said, The Effective Executive is timely today b ...more
Deniss Ojastu
Sep 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: management
This is a book from 1966 - and is said to be a founding book for self-help management literature. It is not an exciting book to read (a bit dry and academic, albeit witty style), but several of the advice here is timeless for any manager.

Some basic truths that a manager betters asks himself/herself time-to-time:
- Does my time tend to belong to everybody else?
- Does the flow of events determines what am I doing as a manager - or am I leading my own time?
- Am I focusing on the inside of my organis
Ramon Bezerra
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It was the first book I read on management/leadership. I liked the fact it's pretty practical book. It gives examples that we can easily relate to. A few take aways for me:

- Focus on strengths (our own and the ones around us) as oppose to weaknesses
- Do one thing at a time (people who tries to do a bit of everything doesn't get anything done)
- Don't focus on problems, take everything as an opportunity
- Don't try to find "a man" to do the job, ask "what job needs to be done" instead
- We should m
Gerald Glover III
Sep 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm certain this won't be the only time I read this book. It's a concise, methodical guide to what every knowledge worker, no matter how senior, should know and enact to be professionally successful. Even though it's old, it's still very much worthwhile.

"To be effective is the job of the executive. "To effect" and "to execute" are, after all, near-synonyms. Whether he works in a business or in a hospital, in a government agency or in a labor union, in a university or in the army, the executive i
Matt Burgess
May 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting Right Things Done (2006), Peter Drucker

Kicking off the Personal Effectiveness portion of the Personal MBA curriculum is the purveyor of modern management, Peter Drucker. Notice the subtitle to this book before you read. It says "getting right things done" where you might have misread it as "getting things done right". Drucker takes decades of consulting experience with numerous famous and infamous companies and in its fifth edition, he bre
Erik Rostad
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-books
The Effective Executive rests upon two premises - that the executive's job is to be effective and that effectiveness can be learned. What follows is a meaty yet pithy book on how to manage oneself for effectiveness. Managing an organization will then become the byproduct.

Drucker defines the executive as the "...knowledge workers, managers, or individual professionals who are expected by virtue of their position or their knowledge to make decisions in the normal course of their work that have sig
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm really hyped about this one, because of the direct approach and the good pacing.

Another bias for me is that I've read this at the time of major career shift and moving into full-time management.

Key takaways:

- measure and analyze your time as a manager
- plan for constant change and adaptability, rather than immediate greatness
- dedicate yourself to 1 main task per day
- re-evaluate your next priorities during the day (e.g. I started planning for max 2 tasks ahead)
- focus on colaboration
- whi
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Peter Ferdinand Drucker was a writer, management consultant and university professor. His writing focused on management-related literature. Peter Drucker made famous the term knowledge worker and is thought to have unknowingly ushered in the knowledge economy, which effectively challenges Karl Marx's world-view of the political economy. George Orwell credits Peter Drucker as one of the only writer ...more

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“It is more productive to convert an opportunity into results than to solve a problem - which only restores the equilibrium of yesterday.” 33 likes
“Intelligence, imagination, and knowledge are essential resources, but only effectiveness converts them into results.” 29 likes
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