Although he died several years ago, the writings of Peter Drucker remain as relevant today as they were 20 years ago. I have collected many of the books he himself wrote and many of the off-shoots that have been published after his death – books with titles such as The Essential Drucker, Drucker on Marketing etc.
What Drucker has to say about business and management never disappoints.
As professionals, all of us need to manage and develop ourselves. In Executive Excellence, Drucker suggested that we should each ask ourselves seven questions:
- What are my strengths? Often people know what they are not good at but it’s also vital to know your strengths, since those serve as the foundation for effective results.
- How do I best perform? You’ll achieve better results by working in ways that allow you to perform at your best.
- What are my values? ‘To work where the value system is unacceptable or incompatible with your own condemns you both to frustration and non-performance,’ he stresses.
- Where do I belong? If you don’t operate comfortably in large organizations, for example, you shouldn’t be in one. Understanding where you belong allows you to pick the right assignments and opportunities.
- What should I contribute? You need to know what the situation requires, and given your strength, style and values, how you can make the maximum contribution. Since it’s rarely fruitful to look too far ahead, ask what vital results you can achieve in the next 18 months.
- Am I responsible for relationships? The answer, he says, is yes. You must take responsibility for relationships with others — understanding their strengths, values, and styles — and must communicate effectively.
- What will I do next? What are your other interests, which you might choose to move on to in the future after the current work is done?
Frances Hesselbein, who used to head up the Girl Scouts of America, says Peter Drucker, as her mentor, always used to tell her that her job was not to provide energy but to release it.
These questions are by no means earth shattering but they do keep us focused and energised and we should refer back to them at least annually.