Preface: If you are to read one book on executive self-management, it should be this, Peter Drucker’s definitive classic, The Effective Executive. It doesn’t matter the size of your organization, or even whether you run an organization at all. Anyone who has responsibility for getting the right things done—anyone who seeks how best to self-deploy on the few priorities that will make the biggest impact—is an executive.
The most effective among us have the same number of hours as everyone else, yet they deploy them better, often much better than people with far greater raw talent. As Drucker states early in these pages: people endowed with tremendous brilliance are often “strikingly ineffectual.” And if that’s true for the exceptionally brilliant, what hope is there for the rest of us? Actually, there is something much better than hope: Drucker’s practical disciplines.
I first read The Effective Executive in my early thirties, and it was a huge inflection point in my own development. Reading the text again, I’m reminded of how its lessons became deeply ingrained, almost as a set of commandments. Some of Drucker’s examples and language might be dated, but the insights are timeless and modern, as helpful today as when he wrote them more than five decades ago. Here are ten lessons I learned from Peter Drucker and this book, and that I offer as a small portal of entry into the mind of the greatest management thinker of all time. — Jim Collins, Boulder, Colorado
Read Jim’s Ten lessons here: