While management books usually explain how to manage people, in The Effective Executive, a classic in its field and first published in 1966, Peter Drucker explains how executives should manage themselves. According to Drucker, management is by example rather than through words; so effective executives will be more likely to inspire effectiveness in the people working under them. He defines effectiveness as the art of “getting the right things done”, which means taking suitable action that will allow staff to perform at their best.
Taking on a role that puts us “above” other people in terms of a professional position means, first and foremost, that we must accept responsibility for our team’s performance. When we are a team leader, we can no longer make excuses such as: “Sorry, but my colleague made a mistake”. From the moment we are given the role of executive, it is up to us to find a way to make things work, and if one of our employees does make a mistake, it won’t help to blame them anyway. In fact, it will make matters worse as this attitude psychologically robs us of control over the situation and leads us off course.
As executives, we have the capacity to make things work, but if we are to succeed, we must be proactive. If one of our employees makes a mistake, it may be better to ask ourselves a few questions. Why did it happen? How can I prevent it from happening again in the future? Which procedures could I introduce to improve the process? And last but not least: what did I do wrong? Could I improve a certain aspect that influences the entire team? For example, we could use different styles of communication with different people, trying to speak their language to make sure they will listen.
This is why Drucker explains how to manage ourselves, in order to become more effective and master the art of “getting the right things done”. He believes that effectiveness is the result of a few simple practices that anyone is able to learn, and that do not rely on innate talent or charisma.