Peter Drucker is a firm believer in “feedback analysis”, the process of comparing your past expectations with the actual results. In his article Managing Oneself I learned that this approach was actually popularized by John Calvin and Ignatius Loyola in the 16th Century and helped contributed to the success of the Calvinist and Jesuit movements. The concept of feedback analysis has four elements:
- Concentrate on your strengths
- Improve your strengths
- Overcome intellectual arrogance
- Avoid areas of weakness
Understanding how I perform and learn
Drucker first asks whether you are a reader or a listener? I’ve known for years that I’m a reader and visual learner. He also asks whether you perform best as a decision maker or an advisor. For me I excel in the advising role and love all the analysis and preparation that goes into a recommendation for a decision maker. Drucker would recommend that I focus on honing that ability rather than assume that I would also be good at decision making saying also that it is very difficult to change oneself. Many people over the years in the Number 2 role fail when promoted to the Number 1 position.
Understanding your values
If you are working somewhere whose organizational values are in direct conflict with your own values, then you will constantly be frustrated in your role there. Some examples:
- Short vs. long-run company goals
- Hiring philosophy (promote within vs. hire outside)
- Quantity vs. Quality
Hense the importance of knowing your strengths.
On Being Ready
What Jack Welch calls “luck” and Guiliani calls “being ready”, Drucker points out how to be successful we must be prepared for opportunities:
“Successful careers are not planned. They develop when people are prepared for opportunties because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values. Knowing where one belongs can transform an ordinary person—hard-working and competent but otherwise mediocre-into an outstanding performer.” – Peter Drucker
Which leads us to Drucker’s important question which resonated with me: “What should my contribution be?” In today’s society this is not dicated to you as it once was perhaps 100 years ago. We must choose our path and ideally that path is a natural fit with our strengths and values.
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