A Few Reflections on the Genius of Leadership Guru Peter F. Drucker

Critical Review and Analysis on Drucker's Perspective of "The Effective Executive"

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Peter F. Drucker has authored more than thirty-five books. His leadership philosophy has had a tremendous impact on students of management and leadership all over the world.

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 formerly resided in California.

The thesis of chapter 1 is that effectiveness can be learned. In explicating his thesis, Drucker emphasizes that executives are expected to “get the right things done” (Drucker, 2004, p. 1). At the corpus of his argument to achieve effectiveness is knowledge. He further postulates that “knowledge workers” (p. 3) provide the main value proposition for organizational development and performance. According to Drucker (2004), “The knowledge worker cannot be supervised closely or in detail. He can only be helped. But he must direct himself, and he must direct himself toward performance and contribution, that is, toward effectiveness” (p. 4).

Consequently, effective executives and workers must be self-motivated. Some scholars argue that varying correlations exist between motivation, job satisfaction, and job effectiveness.

For example, Hoy & Miskel (2008) postulate that, “Maslow focuses on general human needs of the psychological person, while Herzberg (1982) concentrates on the psychological person in terms of how the job affects basic needs” (Hoy & Miskel, 2008, p. 140).

Decision making is another critical variable to executive effectiveness. Drucker (2004), in isolating the executive’s organizational contribution notes, “He must take responsibility for his contribution. And he is supposed, by virtue of his knowledge, to be better equipped to make the right decision than anyone else” (Drucker, 2004, p. 6). Theoretically, knowledge provides information, which impacts decision making, and by extension organizational performance.

In the closing segments the chapter, Drucker (2004) segues into what some scholars refer to as the open system i.e. the interaction of the organization with external macro-environmental factors.

He succinctly asserts, “An organization is an organ of society and fulfills itself by the contribution it makes to the outside environment” (p. 15). The open system is an integration of systems, which incorporate elements of structure and process, whilst being cognizant of myriad social systems within the internal and external environments (Hoy & Miskel, 2008). In other words, despite the best efforts of the most talented executives, their success is also contingent upon external factors that are beyond their effective control. Drucker (2004) eloquently expresses it this way, “This outside, this environment which is the true reality, is well beyond effective control from inside” (p. 14). In concluding chapter 1, Drucker underscores five best practices of effective leaders: systematic time management, results orientation, building on strengths vs. weaknesses, uncanny prioritization, and effective decision making (Drucker, 2004).


Drucker, P. F. (2004). Effectiveness can be learned. In The effective executive (pp. 1-24). New York, NY: HarperCollins.

Hoy, W. K., & Miskel, C. G. (2008). In Educational Administration: Theory research, and practice (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.