This post is the 5th of 10 about Peter Drucker’s “The Effective Executive”
Peter Drucker has opened the door for our adventure with a great question – “What can I contribute?” We need to keep asking ourselves this to allow the right side of the brain to give us better answers. And the better the answers, the more value we can add. The more we can sell.
But there is more here than meets the eye. Once you start seeing what you can contribute, you begin to see more clearly what “strengths” you have, and what “strengths” others have. In other words, you can see that not everyone can contribute equally in the groups where you work.
This unequal distribution limits what we can do in groups and means we need to figure out how to build on strengths. Notice that this is a very different approach than trying to correct weaknesses. Building on strengths is playing offense. Trying to fix weaknesses is playing defense.
Andrew Carnegie understood this. He was perhaps the most successful man of his generation and he had this written on his tombstone.
Here lies a man who knew how to bring into his service men better than he was himself.
First keep in mind — the strengths people have to work better in groups are like “crown jewels”. They need to be respected and protected. To do that, Peter offers some very simple rules. They are worth remembering
1. DON’T JUST “GET ALONG” – It is less important to ask whether you get along with the people you work with than what they are able to do well.
I cannot emphasize too much how important this is. There are always reasons to get annoyed with people. But that is ok if people offer something. And you will only see what they can offer is you start looking for it.
2, BEWARE THE IMPOSSIBLE JOB – avoid creating to or committing to the impossible job. Sounds easy, but think about it. We all get stuck from time to time with responsibilities that overwhelm us. When this happens, we need to see the situation for what it is – something that will hurt both the job creator and the worker. And when we complain rather than focus, we stoop playing the game.
3. CRAVE MEANINGFUL WORK – See challenges in light of purposes. Jobs should be big and promote the idea of failing in order to learn. While we avoid the impossible, we crave the meaningful task. And if something is important to do, we commit to the goal, not just to repeated success at going nowhere.
4. FIND OUT WHAT PEOPLE WANT TO LEARN – Ask what people want to do and want to learn. Learning has a social dimension. When we talk about what we want to learn we help ourselves and the people around us.
When you boil this down, Peter is suggesting that part of becoming more attuned to yourself is to cultivate your own leadership potential. It is easier to create leaders than to raise the performance off the lot
Right. So what’s next? Here is the question – how well do you focus?