Drucker on Managing Oneself, Part 4

In his book, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Peter Drucker analyzed and discussed the new paradigms of management.

Although much of the discussion revolves around the perspective of the organization, these are my takeaways on how we can apply his teaching on our journey of being a knowledge worker.

For knowledge workers, understanding the factors that influence our performance is just as important as understanding our strengths. Like our strengths, how we perform is also individualized. Another word, our personality plays a major part in determining how we perform.

Drucker suggested that, after assessing our strengths and values, we work on answering the question of “What is my contribution?” Asking and answering this question can move us from knowledge to action.

Knowledge workers will have to learn to ask: “What should my contribution be?” Only then we should ask: “Does this fit my strengths? Is this what I want to do?” And “Do I find this rewarding and stimulating?”

One more question must be asked to decide: “Where and how can I have results that make a difference?” The result should be hard to achieve and requires “stretching,” but they also must be within reach. Results also should be meaningful, visible, and, measurable.

Throughout history, few people had any choices as the task was imposed on them. These days, we have more choices than ever. Starting with the question “What should I contribute?” give us freedom. Asking the question gives freedom because it put the responsibility squarely on us to figure out how to move forward.

Because very few people achieve meaningful results by themselves, most people work with other people. To be effective in working with others, it requires us taking the relationship responsibility.

There are two parts to the relationship responsibility. The first one is to accept the fact that others are as much individuals as ourselves. To be effective, we first need to know the strengths, the performance modes, and the values of the people we work with. We then find ways to work with those elements and get the best results possible.

The second part to the relationship responsibility is to take responsibility for communications. We need to effectively communicate our strengths, our performance modes, and our values to others, so we can help them avoid the pitfalls by not capitalizing on our strengths.

Organizations and project are increasingly built on trust and connection. Trust and connection presuppose that people understand one another. Taking the relationship responsibility is there an absolute necessity.

In summary, we always need to be mindful of the questions.

  • “What I am good at?”
  • “How do I work?”
  • “What are my values?”
  • “What is the contribution I plan to concentrate on?”
  • “What are the results I should be expected to deliver?”

Learn to ask ourselves these questions iteratively, learn to find the answers for the same questions about the others, and communicate our answers to those we work with to maximize everyone’s effectiveness.