Drucker on Knowing Your Values

In his book, The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management, Peter Drucker analyzed the ways that management practices and principles affect the performance of organizations, individuals, and society. The book covers the basic principles of management and gives professionals the tools to perform the tasks that the environment of tomorrow will require of them.
These are my takeaways from reading the book.

In the chapter “Know Your Strengths and Values,” Drucker discussed why the knowledge workers would have to learn to manage themselves. By managing ourselves, it means that we will have to place ourselves where we can make the greatest contribution. We will have to learn to develop ourselves and stay mentally productive during fifty-year working life. We also will have to learn how and when to change because the environment does not stand still.

Asking the questions about our strengths and performance is not enough. To be able to manage oneself, Drucker believed that we must know our values.

Organizations must have values, to make decisions and to move forward, and so do people. To be effective in an organization, our values must be compatible with the organization’s values. They do not need to be the same, but they must be able to coexist.

Rarely we will find conflicts between our strengths and the way we perform because the two area are usually complementary. When we have a conflict between our values and our strengths, we get frustrated as if we are not making progress or contribution. Values, in other words, are and should be the ultimate test.

The answers to the three questions, what are my strengths? How do I perform? And what are my values? Should enable us, the knowledge worker, to decide where we belong.

We may not know right away, in the early part of our careers, where we fit in. As we progress in our careers, we should gradually figure out where our strengths are and how we perform as an individual.

At some point, we should know what our values are. And we can decide which environment will likely be compatible with ourselves. Another word, if we learned that we do not perform in a big organization, we should say no when offered a position in a big organization. If we prefer to be an advisor and not a decision-maker, we should say no when offered a decision-making assignment.

According to Drucker, knowing the answer to these three questions enables us to say to an opportunity, “Yes, I’ll do that. But this is the way I should be doing it. This is the way it should be structured. This is the way my relationships should be. These are the kinds of results you should expect from me, and in this time frame, because this is who I am.”

Successful careers often are not “planned,” but they are available to people who are prepared for the opportunity because they know their strengths, the way they work, and their values. Knowing where we belong can turn us into outstanding performers.