The Effective Executive
If you are ever consigned to that mythical desert island, and can only have one management book, make this the book.
I got my first copy of Peter Drucker's Effective Executive right after I started my first management job after getting out of the Marines in 1968. I read and re-read my hardbound copy, dipping into it again and again for more than three decades until that copy finally fell apart two years ago, and I had to buy another copy. Even though I've read it - cover to cover - several times and dipped into it, literally, hundreds of times, I always find something valuable.
Drucker is one of the most lucid and insightful writers there is. In the Effective Executive, he applies those skills to analyzing the job of anyone who has to do knowledge work. In other words, this isn't for the "executive" in the classic sense. If thinking is a large part of what you do, this is a good book for you. The main points are staggeringly simple. Know thy time. What can I contribute? Making strength productive. First things first. Making effective decisions.
For each key point, Drucker gives you, in his usual straightforward way, both examples and ideas. This is the book that first taught me to schedule my work in ninety-minute blocks. It's the one that taught me not only about the importance of setting priorities, but how to do it. It's a book that taught me the basics of decision making, but also that the most important thing about decision making is to have a method for it.
I recommend this to all my students in supervision, management, and leadership classes. I recommend it to you, even if you are not bound for a desert island.
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