Here are the 9 simple truths Drucker identified:
- Know Your Strengths
Before you can leverage on your strengths, you need to figure out what they are. “The only way to discover your strength is through feedback analysis,” wrote Peter Drucker. He believed in not only receiving feedback from others but writing down one’s expectations every time a decision is made or an action is taken. Then one can assess themselves by comparing their actual results with their expectations, which will eventually reveal where their strengths and weaknesses lie if practiced consistently.
- Build Upon Your Strengths
Drucker believed that one should waste as little time as possible to focus on areas of low competence. Instead, one should concentrate on their strengths and actively work on improving them, writing “It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.” Many organisations commit the same mistake, focusing on making incompetent performers into mediocre ones, instead of making a competent person into a star performer.
- Beware of Your Intellectual Arrogance
In the pursuit of brilliance, many leaders are often guilty of being intellectually arrogant. They know that they are the smartest in the room and therefore their opinions are the ones that matter. This perceived brilliance often segregate and blind leaders, resulting them to have the first and last say, with blank stares from its audience being interpreted as engaged, attentive eyes. “Intellectual arrogance,” wrote Druker, “often causes disabling ignorance.”
- Manners Maketh Man
There’s a reason for manners and courtesy and it is not just being nice. Manners act as a practical structure for organisations to communicate amongst each other internally. Drucker believed that good manners are the “lubricating oil” that smoothes friction between two bodies in contact with each other. Just by saying “please” and “thank you”, knowing one’s name, or asking after their family is sufficient for two people to work together, regardless of whether they like each other or not.
- Know How You and Others Perform
Like one’s strength, how one perform is unique. Drucker posed questions of understanding how one works best – whether as part of a team or as subordinates; alone or with others. Leaders, especially, need to be aware if their second-in-command works best as a decision maker or as an adviser. The number two person in an organisation might be outstanding as their advisers, but when being thrusted to the top position, the same person might fail, succumbing to the pressure of having to act with speed and self-confidence – both qualities that are required to be a good decision maker and subsequently, top leader.
- Align Your Values
To make work life viable and satisfying, there needs to be an alignment between the employee’s personal values and the organisation’s core values. These values do not have to mirror each other, but must be similar enough to coexist together. Leaders therefore have to encourage and support this linkage to be effective in an organisation. Otherwise, working in an organisation with a value system that is conflicting with one’s own will only subject to frustration and non-performance.
- Know How to Contribute
Business leaders are often faced with the problem of deciding where they should focus and contribute to the organisation. Drucker suggested that one should analyse the situational need first, focusing on situations which are urgent and requires immediate attention. It should then be followed by a clear and specific plan. The plan has to be challenging but still within reach, as Drucker believed that aiming at results that cannot be achieved is “being foolish”, instead of “being ambitious”.
- Know Your People
Managing yourself involves managing others around you as well. The first is to recognise the fact that everyone works differently to get their job done. It is vital for a good leader to understand the strengths, the performance modes and values of their people. Only then can he or she leverage on them to grow the organisation effectively.
- Attention to Communication
An effective communication helps eliminate misunderstanding and allows one to get the job done quickly and efficiently. That may sound obvious, but many underestimate the power of effective communication. Gaps in communication often arise in organisations as most people often take assumptions for granted or withhold their questions due to the fear of being labelled as stupid and presumptuous. With effective and sufficient two-way communication, many personality conflicts in the organisation can certainly be avoided.
Learning how to manage oneself successfully is one of the most complex skill to master. One of Lao Tzu’s great lines read “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
Only by managing yourself first, then you can manage others.
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