In this management classic, written by Peter Drucker, he argues the sole responsibility for the Executive is to be effective, where their effectiveness is defined by getting the right things done.

Drucker argues that as the economy transitions to be knowledge centred, so the challenge of the Executive to be effective is greater than ever before. If historically the workforce was primarily in primary or secondary industries (agriculture, mining, manufacturing etc) then the responsibilities of the typical worker were clearly defined and would not change often.

In contrast, as the workforce moves to the knowledge economy, so the worker of today has a set of responsibilities that are constantly changing as the expertise of the individual progresses. Similarly, in the manufacturing economy, managing outputs can be achieved primarily through direct supervision, whereas in the knowledge economy that alone is not sufficient. Indeed, any worker in the knowledge economy should be trained to think as an effective executive to enable autonomous action and decision making. With that, the purpose of this book is to outline the five steps the executive needs to take:

1: Record where time goes. Executives who don’t quantify how they spend their time and rely on memory alone, will inevitably miscalculate. Drucker argues that this first step alone if implemented properly will result in immediate and substantial improvements through efficiency gains.

2: Focus work on outward contribution. The executive needs to think through why they are on the payroll and what contribution they need to make that only they can do. Put another way, the person who focuses on downward authority (e.g. I run x department of y people) is subordinate in their thinking. Instead the focus needs to be on contribution and what they are responsible for…

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(This book review was kindly provided by Expert Circle, the executive thought leadership people, with whom we’re running our Classic Book series and from where we publish this shortened extract).