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April 9, 1996

The New Effective: The End of One-Dimensional Competence

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It’s1966. The first Star Trek episode airs on television. Texas Western and its starting lineup of all-black players defeats all-white Kentucky for the NCAA basketball championship. Medicare is created by the federal government. Five hundred thousand American troops are fighting in Vietnam. A moderately well-known actor named Ronald Reagan becomes governor of California. A first-class stamp costs a nickel. The average home costs $14,200. The average American makes $6,900. And Peter Drucker publishes 200 pages on The Effective Executive.
As you know by now, I’m an out-of-the-closet Drucker fan. And I’m not alone. Over forty years later, leaders in every conceivable industry still refer to The Effective Executive as the best primer on leading and managing people and organizations. Like so many of Drucker’s insights, those contained in this book were far ahead of their time—creating both the language around an idea as well as a market to utilize the concept. You can count on Drucker for thoughts that outlast the latest marketing propped up, hot webinar topic.
In this case, I think Drucker was on to something simply with the title word, “effective.” Not successful or satisfied. Not influential or intelligent. Effective. In chapter one I referenced this exact word because I think it holds the key to excellent leadership.
One definition of effective is “adequate to accomplish a purpose.” But accomplishing a purpose is, at best, related to efficiency. That’s a great job description for an executive—they need to possess adequate skills to accomplish something. But I prefer Drucker’s definition of effectiveness: “Doing the right thing.” Or, to put it another way, the effective leader is the whole leader—he or she understands that effective leadership comes from their ability to value the head and the heart and the hand.
The business climate has changed in the last forty years, but the need for effectiveness has not. We need whole leaders leading, not fragmented specialists.
In the preceding pages, we’ve looked at some of the qualities needed to be an effective executive. Let’s close by looking at four stepping stones that will help you and I become the Modern Effective Executive.

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