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.
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 his 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.
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.