Five Habits of the Effective Executive

THE BIG IDEA: Five habits that offer every leader continuous room for improvement in actualizing their potential and growing their organization.


Effectiveness is a habit; that is, a complex of practices,” Peter Drucker wrote.

“And practices can always be learned. Practices are simple, deceptively so; even a seven-year-old has no difficulty in understanding a practice. But practices are always exceedingly hard to do well … Practices one learns by practicing and practicing and practicing again.” (Italics are our emphasis.)

In The Effective Executive, what we consider a must-read for anyone who works in any organization, Drucker highlights five habits that executives must acquire to be effective:

  1. Time Consciousness: Effective executives are aware of where they spend their time. (Here’s a useful tutorial on how to master your time, inspired by Drucker’s advice.)
  2. Outward Contribution: Effective executives focus on outward contribution to the organization, and ultimately, the customer. They gear their efforts toward results, not work.
  3. Strength-Focused Mindset: Effective executives build on their own strengths as well as the strengths of their superiors, colleagues, and subordinates. They do not build on weakness or start out with things they cannot do.
  4. Measurable Results: Effective executives concentrate on the few critical areas where superior performance produces measurable results.
  5. Effective Decisions: Effective executives make effective decisions. They focus on a small number of fundamental decisions that greatly impact the organization.

How do you measure up with these five habits?

Where can you improve your level of effectiveness?

What can you start doing today?

As author Aldous Huxley wrote, “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”

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