Book Cover
  • 12th July 2018

Peter F. Drucker’s The Effective Executive {Book Review}

Book Cover

I first heard about The Effective Executive when I listened to an interview with Tim Ferris and Kevin Rose.

And Tim Ferris recommended Peter Drucker’s book as the best management and efficiency book that is out there.

One of my major missions is to emulate the behaviours of high achievers to check if I will eventually get better results also.  So, I gather as much intel about them as I can, and reading the books that they are reading is a good start, in my opinion.

You might ask yourself why I decided to promote a classic business book here instead of my usual psychology books.

One of the reasons why I created this blog was to investigate the differences between successful people and people who are unhappy.

And one pattern is obvious when you deconstruct high achievers: They get stuff done!

I believe that the tools and patterns of successful people should not only be reserved for elite entrepreneurs who have a business.

Being more efficient means also to be happier, in my opinion.

When we get stuff done, we are growing, we are moving forward, we become more self-efficient.  Meaning that we believe more and more in our abilities and ultimately in yourself.

People who are depressed very often lack exactly this skill.

They lose trust in themselves in that they can make things happen, that they can change.  They feel powerless and give in at a certain point because their hardships and obstacles seem too big to tackle.

Operating efficiently and getting the right stuff done will put you back in charge, and even if you have a shitty day, due to your skills of conquering problems efficiently you are, I think, less likely to fall into despair because you can solve and manage anything.

Speaking from my own experience, every time I was in a downward spiral, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of problems that I had to deal with.

Learning some management skills has a high application, in my opinion, to fight depression and become happier overall.

The skills I learned from the Effective Executive helped me to break down the avalanches of the problems that had accumulated in my life over time, into small chunks.

I learned how to manage my time better, how to use my strengths, and become better at decision making.

This directly has helped me to be less anxious about life in general.

This book should be mandatory in school, in my opinion; instead, we start with teaching kids about dinosaurs and Napoleon.  Soo I am drifting…What is the book about….

What Is The Effective Executive About?

In the Effective Executive, Peter Drucker writes about how to “get the right things done”.(1)
This not only includes what you have to do but also what you have to ignore.  Doing only the most important tasks is key.  To manage your day efficiently, it is key to look for things that you can ignore and things that you can delegate.

What Makes An Effective Executive?

The measure of the executive, Peter, 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 the mind that mould them into results.

Drucker identifies five practices essential to business effectiveness that can, and must, be learned:

  • Managing time
  • Choosing what to contribute to the organisation
  • Knowing where and how to mobilise strength for best effect
  • Setting the right priorities
  • Knitting all of them together with effective decision-making

Ranging widely through the annals of business and government, Peter demonstrates the distinctive skill of the executive and offers fresh insights into old and seemingly obvious business situations.(1)

Who Is Peter F. Drucker?

Peter Drucker is an author of more than thirty-five books, and his ideas have had an enormous impact on shaping the modern corporation.  Peter is one of the leading business thinkers of all time, the father of modern management.

In 2002, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  He is a writer, teacher, philosopher, reporter, consultant, and a professor at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.  He died in 2005.(1)

3 Lessons I Learned From The Effective Executive?

Know Thy Time

The Effective Executive knows where their time goes, and most of all, where they can “save” time.  Time management is the skill to create more time by setting priorities and identifying where one is wasting it.

Time is the most underrated resource there is.  Knowing where your time goes, raises awareness and shows you why you are not where you want to be in life.  The difference between a millionaire and a person who is not successful, in my opinion, is how they use their 24 hours.

A couple of years ago, when I was at an all-time low, one of the prime driving forces of my depression was the feeling of me moving forward.

I was working really hard, but I did not have the results I was looking for, and a big part of depression is, in my opinion, the internalisation that whatever you try, it will not work.  So why bother.  Right?  This is when people do not get out of bed anymore.

Years later, I realised that hard work and hustle is key, but to be an effective executive, you need to do the right things, so you can do things right.

When I interviewed Tian Yao, a self-made millionaire, she explained to me the importance of focusing effectively on the most important things first, ignore unimportant tasks, and always think about what you can delegate.  So how do you do that?

3 Steps Of Managing Time

Track Your Time

Grab a piece of paper, and write down for a day how much time you spent on your activities.

Manage Your Time

  • Ask yourself in the morning: What can I ignore today? What is the most important thing that I can do today?  What can I delegate?


  • If you want to be effective, you need to put in the time. Use big chunks, from half a day to up to two weeks, on working on a project and really focus until you successfully achieved your milestone.

Effectiveness Can Be Learned

This was a relief for me to hear; being an effective executive does not require special gifts, attitude, or God-given talents.  So you, if you are like me, a chaotic mess, it simply means that you have not learned the skill of being effective yet.

Practise makes perfect, and practising effectiveness will show results fast.  Peter F Drucker dedicated his life to investigating managers, CEOs, and executives, and according to him, effective executives differ widely in their personalities, strengths, values, and beliefs.  The only thing they have in common is that they get the right stuff done.

First Things First, Second Things Never!

This one rocked my world.  You know the book from Stephen Covey, First Things First?  Well, he got that sentence from Peter F. Drucker.  Click here to check it out!

Our brain is like a computer, if we have too many tabs open, it will get less effective.  If you have too many things open, it will not work at all.

This radical approach of only focusing on the most important, urgent thing is a mental habit that will change you.

Ask yourself what is most important right now? 

This does not mean that you have to do business and work all the time, it means taking ownership of your behaviour.

If it is most important right now to take a break, then chill.  If you need to be present with your family right now, turn off your phone.  If you need to focus on creative work, go to a place where nobody is bothering you.

You want your focus to be like a laser.  Concentrated on one thing.  The more concentrated, the hotter it gets.

Being effective means to say no.

Again, in my wide-ranging conversation with self-made millionaire Tian Yao, I asked her about commonalities she spotted among other CEOs and high achievers, and she said that they are particularly good at saying no.  This could mean that they go to a party, have a blast, but know exactly when to stop.

Or, that say to their colleagues who want to chat, that they are busy.

If you are saying yes to getting smashed every Friday with your buddies, you are simultaneously deciding against a productive and happy Saturday.  Knowing that our behaviour has a consequence is key.

What Do I Not Like About The Effective Executive?

The book is difficult to read.  You can see that Peter is a bit older, he has a clinical way of analysing patterns, and although his book is one of my favourites, I would not recommend this to everyone.

And, I think this is a bit of a waste because the skills of an effective executive are not only important for business people, but for people in general.

This book is marketed as a business book for managers, but really, it is a book on how to manage yourself. Therefore, it is a must-read in my opinion for everybody, not just for people who want to create a business.


  1. Back cover, The Effective Executive

Call to Action

Here is some homework for you.

Record your time for a day:

  • What can you ignore?
  • What can you delegate?
  • Where are you wasting time?

Answer Peter Drucker’s 5 Magic Questions:

  1. What is your mission?
  2. Who is your customer?
  3. What does your customer value?
  4. What results do you seek?
  5. What is your plan?

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