In his book, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Peter Drucker analyzed and discussed the new paradigms of management.
Although much of the discussion revolves around the perspective of the organization, these are my takeaways on how we can apply his teaching on our journey of being a knowledge worker.
For knowledge workers, understanding the factors
that influence our performance is just as important as understanding our
strengths. Like our strengths, how we perform is also individualized. Another
word, our personality plays a major part in determining how we perform.
Drucker suggested we explore three questions in
the quest of understanding how we perform.
- How do I perceive information?
- How do I learn?
- What are my values?
Am I a reader or a listener? We perceive
information in different ways, and understanding our preference is crucial in
being effective at what we do. The distinction between the reader and the
listener is even more critical when it comes to our decision-making process. We
should understand the difference and put ourselves in the best position
possible to receive and process the information we need to make decisions.
Knowing the reader vs. listener preference is
very much like knowing and working with our left-hand vs. right-hand
preference. If we can work with our preferences, we get a better chance to
amplify our effectiveness. When we work against our preferences, we stand to
lose or even destroying our effectiveness.
The second thing to know how we perform is to
know how we learn. There are probably several ways to learn, and, again, we
will have our preferences. Some people learn by taking copious notes. Some
people learn by hearing themselves talk. Some learn by doing, and some learn by
reading and conceptualizing in their heads.
The above paths describe some of the ways of
acquiring knowledge. There are other paths we take to learn from experience as
well. Some learn better as loner, and some do better in a team setting. Some people
do well under stress, and there are those who need a structured and predictable
Moreover, some people perform and learn better as
a decision-maker. Also, some would prefer to act as an adviser. The important
thing suggested by Drucker is not to change ourselves too drastically, because
that is unlikely to be successful. We should work hard to improve the way we
perform and avoid putting ourselves in a situation or an environment where we
will perform poorly.
Finally, Drucker reminded us that our values play
the ultimate test in determining how we perform. Drucker called the values the
“mirror test.” When we work in an organization with a values system that is
incompatible with ours, we run a great risk of experiencing frustration and
Our strengths and performance are usually closely
correlated. However, there is sometimes a conflict between a person’s values
and the same person’s strengths. When there is a conflict between our strengths
and values, we must take a close look and see where and why the discrepancies.
If we do not resolve the discrepancies, we run the likely risk of low
performance and low contribution.
Each one of us has something unique to offer. We all should put ourselves in the best position to perform by knowing our strengths and match them with our preferences to get the best results possible.