One of the coaches I follow religiously on Twitter is Ed Batista, a first-rate executive coach based in San Francisco. After a 15-year career in management — during which he took off 2 years to earn his MBA from the Stanford University School of Business in Stanford, California — Batista started helping companies adapt their management practices and organization cultures to better fit their changing needs. In one of his blog posts,1 Batista challenges us to read a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article entitled “Managing Oneself,” written by Peter F. Drucker.2
Taking this challenge to heart, I purchased the Drucker article from HBR. And this 30-minute read was the best time I’ve invested in a long while. Many of the passages and ideas presented by Drucker deeply resonated with me, and I wanted to share my key takeaways and favorite passages with you.
WHY MANAGE MYSELF?
You are the architect of your career. I challenge you to approach your career as if you are the chief executive officer. As Drucker eloquently states, “It’s up to you to carve out your place in the world and know when to change course.”2 In a professional journey that may span many decades, you are in the driver’s seat. And only you know when your tank is empty and needs to be refueled with a new challenge.
WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO MANAGING MYSELF?
In order to build a life of excellence, ask yourself the following questions.
• What are my strengths?
Know your strengths in order to position yourself where these strengths can produce solid results. And then keep improving upon these known strengths. “It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.”2 Know your strengths and utilize them. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Set high goals and go after them using your bank of bargaining chips.
• How do I perform?
Do you know how you get things done? Amazingly, very few people do. It’s a matter of personality and performance, and it can be modified … but this quality is usually hardwired within. A few collective personality traits typically determine how you perform. Are you a “reader” or a “listener?” As a coach, I’ve learned I’m a listener and can hear nuances and inflections that enable me to draw out underlying challenges or roadblocks my clients might encounter. Successful salespeople need to be skilled in listening, as well.
• How do I learn?
There are at least a half dozen ways to learn, such as listening, writing, talking or taking copious notes. It’s imperative that you understand how you process and incorporate new information. Do you find yourself most effective when you’re in charge or when you’re someone’s right hand? (I’m a right hand.)
• What are my values?
Can you withstand the “mirror test?” Ask yourself, what kind of person do I want to see in the mirror at the start of each day? “Organizations, like people, have values. To be effective in an organization, a person’s values must be compatible with the organization’s values.”2 Reflect your customers’ values and you’ll succeed.
• Where do I belong?
Do you know where you belong? Not many people do, at least early in their career. In fact, according to Drucker, “Most people, especially highly gifted people, do not really know where they belong until they are well past their mid-twenties.”2 For this reason, don’t overthink or overplan. Hard work leads to opportunities for success. The key is being prepared for opportunities that will lead to where you ultimately belong.
• What should my contribution be?
The answer to this question requires evaluation of the situation at hand. Determine how your strengths, in combination with your values, can produce results that will make a significant impact and tangible difference. This reflection creates the basis for a clear and specific plan (a fruitful plan, Drucker says, should not exceed the next 18 months). The end goal of this plan should be difficult to achieve; “stretchy, yet attainable.” Second, the results should make a difference. Finally, the results should be measurable. From these detailed outcomes we create the framework for our course of action.
As a coach, I urge you to ponder these questions. Ask yourself where you might look deeper into how you manage your career. Challenge yourself to learn how these questions might help you find more clarity in your relationships — at work, in your community, and at home. And finally, remember that wherever there is success, there is failure. Don’t settle for the absence of failure; embrace it as your best effort to manage yourself.
- Batista E. Peter Drucker on managing oneself. Available at: edbatista.com/ 2005/ 11/ peter_drucker_o.html. Accessed October 27, 2017.
- Drucker F. Managing oneself. Harvard Business Review. Available at: https:// hbr.org/ 2005/01/managing-oneself. Accessed October 27, 2017.
From MENTOR. November 2017;8(12): 8-9.