By Drucker, Peter F., Harvard Business Review, Jan2005, Vol. 83, Issue 1
Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves -their strengths, their values, and how they best perform.
What Are My Strengths?
It takes far more energy to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.
Several implications for action follow from feedback analysis. First and foremost, concentrate on your strengths. Put yourself where your strengths can produce results. Second, work on improving your strengths. Third, discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it.
It is equally essential to remedy your bad habits — the things you do or fail to do that inhibit your effectiveness and performance.
How Do I Perform?
Do not try to change yourself-you are unlikely to succeed. Work to improve the way you perform.
Like one’s strengths, how one performs is unique. It is a matter of personality. Whether personality be a matter of nature or nurture, it surely is formed long before a person goes to work. And how a person performs is a given, just as what a person is good at or not good at is a given. A person’s way of performing can be slightly modified, but it is unlikely to be completely changed — and certainly not easily. Just as people achieve results by doing what they are good at, they also achieve results by working in ways that they best perform. A few common personality traits usually determine how a person performs.
What Are My Values?
What one does well even very well and successfully – may not fit with one’s value system.
Organizations, like people, have values. To be effective in an organization, a person’s values must be compatible with the organization’s values. They do not need to be the same, but they must be close enough to coexist. Otherwise, the person will not only be frustrated but also will not produce results.
A person’s strengths and the way that person performs rarely conflict; the two are complementary. But there is sometimes a conflict between a person’s values and his or her strengths. What one does well–even very well and successfully — may not fit with one’s value system. In that case, the work may not appear to be worth devoting one’s life to (or even a substantial portion thereof).
Where Do I Belong?
Successful careers are not planned. They develop when people are prepared for opportunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values. Knowing where one belongs can transform an ordinary person — hardworking and competent but otherwise mediocre — into an outstanding performer.
What Should I Contribute?
Knowledge workers in particular have to learn to ask a question that has not been asked before: What should my contribution be? To answer it, they must address three distinct elements: What does the situation require? Given my strengths, my way of performing, and my values, how can I make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done? And finally, What results have to be achieved to make a difference?
Responsibility for Relationships
The first secret of effectiveness is to understand the people you work with so that you can make use of their strengths.
Managing oneself requires taking responsibility for relationships. This has two parts. The first is to accept the fact that other people are as much individuals as you yourself are. The second part of relationship responsibility is taking responsibility for communication.
Organizations are no longer built on force but on trust. The existence of trust between people does not necessarily mean that they like one another. It means that they understand one another. Taking responsibility for relationships is therefore an absolute necessity. It is a duty. Whether one is a member of the organization, a consultant to it, a supplier, or a distributor, one owes that responsibility to all one’s coworkers: those whose work one depends on as well as those who depend on one’s own work.
The Second Half of Your Life
There is one prerequisite for managing the second half of your life: You must begin doing so long before you enter it.
Managing oneself increasingly leads one to begin a second career. There are three ways to develop a second career. The first is actually to start one. The second way to prepare for the second half of your life is to develop a parallel career. Finally, there are the social entrepreneurs.
Wherever there is success, there has to be failure. And then it is vitally important for the individual, and equally for the individual’s family, to have an area in which he or she can contribute, make a difference, and be somebody. That means finding a second area — whether in a second career, a parallel career, or a social venture — that offers an opportunity for being a leader, for being respected, for being a success.