If I had read The Effective Executive just a few months sooner than I did, I probably would not have quit my six-figure consulting gig.
The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker is for all the #bossbabes out there, whether you’re working solo right now, working your way up the corporate ladder, or currently in a manager position. Don’t skip over this old-school (we’re talking circa 1967…so eye roll…def written to men). The principles discussed in this book stand true today, 60 years later. Drucker worked with and studied executives of all levels and organizations over 45 years. With so many knowledge-based jobs these days, proving the effectiveness of one’s role can be difficult. The Effective Executive will help you unravel one’s role in a manager position and how to shine and prove your worth.
How do I change this?
I asked myself this over and over again as I looked at my two-page to-do list – just for the day (absolutely impossible to complete). As I go to bed at 2:30 am and set my alarm for 5:00 am. As I shed a tear at 5:00 pm because I spent my day on calls, answer questions coming through on Slack all day, responding to “urgent” emails, and still haven’t had the chance to work on anything on my to-do list.
Was this a time-management issue? Was this a staffing issue? Not enough hands on deck? Was it me not understanding my role? While I wanted to blame everyone around me, I knew this was a mess of my making. A lack of personal boundaries. Lack of vision. Lack of personal leadership. I needed to step up, and I couldn’t figure out how to fill those shoes.
While I’m grateful for my journey and where I am now – there’s no doubt that if I could have read this book much sooner AND more importantly applied the principles learned, life could have unfolded differently for me. I could have been the leader I needed to be for those around me and not let anyone down. I could have kept my sanity, sleep, and health. I could have worked full-time while also building my vision. But instead, I collapsed. I threw in the towel and decided it would be easier to start over than to fix my extreme overwhelm and burnout.
Okay, so what exactly is this book going to teach you?
According to Peter Drucker, there are eight principles that all effective executives follow:
* They ask, “What needs to be done?”
* They ask, “What is right for the enterprise?”
* They develop action plans.
* They take responsibility for decisions.
* They assume responsibility for communicating.
* They focus on opportunities rather than problems.
* They run productive meetings.
* They think and say regarding “we” rather than “I.”
Sounds good, right? If one alone could run a productive meeting, that would change everyone’s life. AMIRITE?
The great news is that effectiveness is a skill that can be learned. It is not something only a lucky few are born with, and the rest of us are hopeless. You can have all the creativity, college degrees, intelligence, and skill in the world but if you cannot be effective, results will never transpire.
Where did I play the blame game in my career for not producing the results I strived for or were expectant of me? TIME. I woke up every day looking at my to-do list wondering when I would find the time even to make a dent.
“Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.” – Peter F. Drucker
Drucker dedicates an entire chapter to unraveling this mystery of time. First off, one who is competent in their role never starts by looking at their task list; they start by looking at how much time they have available actually to work. How does one figure out how much time they have to dedicate tasks to then determine what tasks to tackle? By applying this three step process:
- Record your time.
- Manage your time.
- Consolidate your time.
Sounds stupid easy, right? Peter suggests spending one month (on an ongoing basis, maybe quarterly) recording your time. Pen and paper style. From the time you wake up. Write down everything you do and the time spent. I did this for a week, and I wanted to slap myself. You don’t want to know how much time I was spending in the mornings to perfect my smoothie bowl or scrolling through Instagram. Lie to yourself all you want and say that you only reserve Instagram scrolling for red lights, sitting on the toilet, or while you’re on the treadmill. Want to become a productive ninja? Write shit down. Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self. See how many little pockets of time you lose by doing tasks that just are going to create results in your life.
TIME TRACKING HACK: I picked up a Miracle Cube Timer and depending on the task at hand, I pick a chunk of time and set the timer. I don’t let myself look at my phone, browse Facebook, or even take a bathroom break until this timer goes off. I force myself to stay focused. It’s difficult. With practice though, I see myself training my brain to stay focused.
Once you’ve mastered yourself, there’s a chapter in The Effective Executive dedicated to managing your Boss and your juniors. Most importantly, how to focus and utilize their strengths while dismissing their weaknesses. Focusing and cultivating strengths will allow you to get the most productive work from everyone. Can you imagine understanding how to manage your Boss and his strengths? You would be the Super Woman of your organization.
What other attribute do you need to be a kick-ass executive? Decision making. Ughhhh. Think about it though, this is why some people get paid the big bucks. You have to know how to make the best decision. How do you make right decisions with conflicting opinions, facts, demanding clients, and time pressure? In fact, decision making is so critical, the last two chapters of the book teach you the exact process all successful executives, Presidents, and organization leaders use to make decisions that positively affect the future.
I’ll repeat it. The Effective Executive is for all my Boss Babes out there. No matter what company you work for or position you hold, even if you are a soloprenuer.
Why do I write these reviews? Why do I share my learnings? I hope that I can share a book on a random day when everything seems hopeless for you. I hope that I can say just one thing that gives you a glimmer of hope to keep on truckin’ – to not throw in the towel but instead to pick up a book that will push you into the next day with real learnings that create extraordinary results for you.
As someone who lost perspective of her strengths and allowed myself to drift and willingly be pushed around to fill holes as needed – only doing myself and my colleagues a huge disservice – Read The Effective Executive. Know your strength. Manage yourself. Protect your time. Make decisions that drive vision – not fix yesterday’s problem.