Peter Drucker and executive leadership - effective executives listen effectively to lead
Peter Drucker and executive leadership - effective executives listen effectively to lead
Peter Drucker and executive leadership - effective executives listen effectively to lead

Peter Drucker's Effective Executive and Listening Skill


Peter Drucker's Effective Executive

Peter Drucker is a highly regarded consultant and prolific writer in the sphere of management and leadership. His classic 1966 work, The Effective Executive, emphasizes the importance of focusing the executive's work load to avoid "wasting time" on non-essential matters.

Drucker's five-part effectiveness model depends heavily on listening ability, particularly steps one, two, and five.

Drucker's step one, choosing how to spend and not to spend time, requires aggressive delegation in order to avoid spending time on peripheral matters. Although he doesn't say it in as many words, it's implicit that Drucker's vision of delegation relies on a coaching management style--essentially, periodic listening as subordinates describe their planning and progress--because a direct-control style of management would negate the executive's decision not to spend time on delegated projects.

 

This section briefly examines two books: Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive (HarperCollins, 1966) and Peter Drucker, The Frontiers of Management (EP Dutton, 1986), with commentary and analysis by Bruce Wilson.

In step two of Drucker's model, executives ask both themselves and their subordinates what they contribute now to the organization and what they could contribute in the future. According to Drucker regardless of whether an individual's view of what they now contribute, or could contribute, matches their manager's view, bringing out and stressing the importance of everyone's role as a contributor is essential to the organization's overall effectiveness. (The same general principle is embodied by Covey's and Goleman's emphasis on self-awareness, as in listening to one's self, and being aware of others, as in listening to subordinates.)

In step five, Drucker emphasizes the importance to the executive of actively seeking competing opinions and inquiring about the basis for those opinions before choosing a course of action, rather than acting on the basis of pre-arranged or tacit consensus. Of necessity, this requires consistently listening with genuine curiosity in order to encourage development of diverse opinions and supporting rationales, rather than simply setting forth proposals and working to build consensus around them.

Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive (HarperCollins, 1966) (>Amazon.com).

More Peter Drucker: The Frontiers of Management

In his later book, The Frontiers of Management Drucker elaborates on the idea that executives should fill positions based on strengths.

Drucker recommends that an executive select from among no fewer than three equally skilled applicants the one whose strengths best match the challenges that she will face in her new position. For example, if the central objective will be to restore morale to a fragmented team, morale building should already be a strength she possesses.

 

Drucker's basic model for an effective executive can be summarized as follows:

  • one, executives must carefully choose how to spend, and not to spend, their time;
  • two, executives must consciously choose what they want to contribute to the organization and ask their subordinates to make such a choice also;
  • three, executives must choose people to perform tasks based on their individual strengths and the fit between strengths and tasks--people should not be chosen for whether or not they lack weaknesses;
  • four, executives must deliberately choose long-term business priorities; and
  • five, executives must choose from among all of the alternative opinions offered within their organization.

Shortly after the new hire assumes her new position, the executive should use a coaching leadership style--primarily listening rather than instructing--to help her grow into her new position. The steps Drucker recommends are: 1) help her realize that success in this new position will NOT simply be a matter of repeating note-for-note a successful approach used in a previous position, 2) help her reflect on her options, 3) have her draw up a detailed plan of action, and 4) review it with her.

Peter Drucker, The Frontiers of Management (EP Dutton, 1986) (>Amazon.com).


 

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This section was written by Bruce Wilson, an executive coach, trainer, and facilitator who has helped individual business people and organizations across the U.S. to improve their leadership, customer relationships, and teamwork. For more information about his work, or to get in touch with him, visit WilsonStrategies.com.


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