Managing Oneself — Book Summary
Managing Oneself (Harvard Business Review Classics)
By Peter Druckerwww.amazon.com
We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: with ambition, drive, and talent, you can rise to the top of your chosen profession regardless of where you started out. But with opportunity comes responsibility. Companies today aren’t managing their knowledge workers’ careers. Instead, you must be your own Chief Executive Officer. That means it’s up to you to carve out your place in the world and know when to change course. And it’s up to you to keep yourself engaged and productive during a career that may span some 50 years.
Peter Drucker in his book Managing Oneselftalks about how to have an engaged and productive career that may span ~ 50 years. The book also talks about how one should plan for a second career beyond the age of 40 along, with references of people who had made a successful second career at the age of 50 or 60.
What are My Strengths?
To have a successful career, one should know what their strengths are. No one performs well with their weaknesses. Most people are wrong about their own perspective about what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Peter Drucker recommends Feedback Analysis of your career to understand your strengths. Write down the expected outcomes of your key decisions, and evaluate it in every 9–12 months. While analyzing, one will be able to understand their strengths, incompetence and the hindrances that may affect the strengths.
How do I perform?
Like one’s strength, how one performs is also unique. Personality can be a matter of nature or nurture, but it’s formed much before one starts working. Just as one achieves results by working on what they are good it, they also achieve results by working in the ways they perform their best. Ask the below questions to understand how you perform.
The bottom line is the same i.e. don’t try to change yourselves, you are unlikely to succeed. But work hard to improve the way you perform. And don’t try to take on work you cannot perform or will perform poorly.
What are my Values?
Values are not about ethics. Peter Drucker refers it as “Mirror Test” i.e. What kind of person you want to see in the mirror. Like individuals, organisations also have values. Examples are:
- Incremental improvements vs breakthroughs
- Emphasis on Short term results vs Long term goals
- Quality vs Quantity
- Growth vs Sustenance
An individuals’ values should match with the organization’s for one to enjoy the work he does.
Where do I belong?
Successful careers are not planned, successful careers are developed when people prepare for opportunities because they know their strengths, method of work and values.
Mathematicians, cooks, musicians are mathematicians or cooks or musicians by the age of four or five. But for others, they should find early on where they belong. One can find that by getting answers to the above questions i.e.:
- What are my strengths?
- How do I perform?
- What are my values?
By answering these questions, one will definitely understand where they don’t belong, which many usually don’t think about. It is important to understand whether one should work with big organisation or small organisation or whether one is an advisor or a lone performer etc.
How should I contribute?
Usually people take those tasks which are assigned to them or which they are expected to do. Instead one should look out at the situation and make contributions. This can be done by answering the below questions:
Once you find the answers for the above, create a plan for 18 months which is stretchable and achievable. The results should make a difference which is meaningful, measurable and visible.
Responsibility for Relationships
There are very few people who work themselves, maybe a few artists or athletes etc. Most others work with others, be it in an employee of an organisation or a self employed person. That makes it important to take the responsibility of relationships.
The first part of taking this responsibility is to consider others are human beings and letting them have their strengths, their values and their own style of performance. Be it your boss or co-workers, accept and understand their strengths, their values and how do they perform.
The second part is the responsibility for communication. Many organisations struggle with personality conflicts of employees because people don’t understand each other and how they perform which results in conflicts. So it’s important to communicate to others about your values, strengths and how you perform. Equally important is asking others about the same.
Whenever you communicate to others, “This is what am good at. These are my values. This is the contribution I plan to concentrate on and the results I should be expected to deliver.”, the response is always “Thanks for sharing this, why didn’t you tell me this earlier”
When you ask others “What do I need to know your strengths, how do you perform, your values, and your proposed contribution?” The response will usually be “Thanks for asking. Why didn’t you ask me earlier?”
Second half of your career
Most knowledge workers reach a state of “boredom” by around the age of 45, as they might have reached a state of their career ladder by then. It's important to keep oneself challenging throughout one’s life, along with having a community to interact with.
The people who plan their second career is a minority, but they are the leaders and become role models for many. Majority “retire” with their first career and just count the rest of the days for actual retirement. These second careers help one to be focussed while having tough times during their lives and also help to contribute and make a difference.
Managing oneself means, being Chief Executive Officer of your life. It requires one to understand your strengths, values and how you perform and look for opportunities where you can leverage them effectively. Because, “Successful careers are not planned, successful careers are developed by preparing for opportunities”.
We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: with ambition, drive, and talent, you can rise to the top of your chosen profession regardless of where you started out. But with opportunity comes responsibility. Companies today aren't managing their knowledge workers careers. Instead, you must be your own chief executive officer. That means it's up to you to carve out yourWe live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: with ambition, drive, and talent, you can rise to the top of your chosen profession regardless of where you started out. But with opportunity comes responsibility. Companies today aren't managing their knowledge workers careers. Instead, you must be your own chief executive officer. That means it's up to you to carve out your place in the world and know when to change course. And it's up to you to keep yourself engaged and productive during a career that may span some 50 years. In Managing Oneself, Peter Drucker explains how to do it. The keys: Cultivate a deep understanding of yourself by identifying your most valuable strengths and most dangerous weaknesses; Articulate how you learn and work with others and what your most deeply held values are; and Describe the type of work environment where you can make the greatest contribution. Only when you operate with a combination of your strengths and self-knowledge can you achieve true and lasting excellence. Managing Oneself identifies the probing questions you need to ask to gain the insights essential for taking charge of your career. Peter Drucker was a writer, teacher, and consultant. His 34 books have been published in more than 70 languages. He founded the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, and counseled 13 governments, public services institutions, and major corporations....more
Paperback, 72 pages
Published January 7th 2008 by Harvard Business Review Press (first published December 1st 2007)