Effective Executive and the Listening Skills

Peter Drucker is a highly regarded consultant and prolific writer in the sphere of management and leadership. His classic 1966 work, The Effective Executive, emphasizes the importance of focusing the executive’s work load to avoid “wasting time” on non-essential matters.

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 two of Drucker’s model, executives ask both themselves and their subordinates what they contribute now to the organization and what they could contribute in the future. According to him, regardless of whether an individual’s view of what they now contribute, or could contribute, matches their manager’s view, bringing out and stressing the importance of everyone’s role as a contributor is essential to the organization’s overall effectiveness. (The same general principle is embodied by Covey’s and Goleman’s emphasis on self-awareness, as in listening to one’s self, and being aware of others, as in listening to subordinates.)

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.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you follow Drucker’s model in your business?

Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.

About Dr. Surya

Using Quantum Physics and business research, Dr. Surya explores the correlation between the science of consciousness and patterns in the business world, to suggest innovative ways of using this wisdom to lead and succeed in a business environment that is constantly evolving at a rapid pace. Self-awareness is the awareness of the self as separate from the thoughts that are occurring at any point in time. Without self-awareness the self perceives and believes the thoughts that are occurring to be who the self is. Self-awareness gives one the option or choice to choose thoughts being thought rather than simply thinking the thoughts that are stimulated from the accumulative events leading up to the circumstances of the moment. Along with his work as an Author, Writer, Blogger and popular Internet Radio Talk Show Host, Dr. Surya is in-demand as a public speaker. Clients include small to large corporations and individuals.
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