‘Managing Oneself’ – Peter F. Drucker

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Book Review – ‘Managing Oneself’, Peter F. Drucker

In this day and age, we can be anything we want, achieve anything we put our minds to, the world is full of unprecedented opportunities, but why do we sometimes feel that we’re left behind and everyone around us is moving forward. Believe it or not, it all comes down to a few questions; statements that you can ask yourself. I strongly recommend this book and should definitely be in your basket the next time you shop. You can get a copy here!

I’ll start the review by quoting the blurb on the back of the book:

“In Managing Oneself, Peter Drucker explains how to create your career path by knowing when to seize opportunities and when to change course. This influential Harvard Business Review article helps you unlock your full potential by discovering your strengths, recognising how you best work with others, and identifying the work environments that are right for you.”

Drucker splits the book into chapter-like sub-headings in the form of questions and small statements. These are my summaries for each sub-heading/statement.

What Are My Strengths?

Drucker starts by stating that people are not often aware of their strengths, and most cases if they were, they are usually wrong. Throughout history, where people had little need to know their strengths which then would be used to progress in to certain careers or professions, did not matter as much, because a person would be born into a position and a line of work, for example, the peasants son, would also be a peasant; the artisan’s daughter would be an artisan’s wife and so on. However, in a modern age, people have a choice, to pursue any profession they choose. But need to know their strengths in order to know where they belong and a way to discover such strengths is through feedback analysis.

To do feedback analysis, you have to simply write down what you expect will happen, whenever you make a key decision or take a key action. Nine or Twelve months later, compare the actual results to your expectations. Drucker explains that after doing this, the three important actions to take are i) Concentrate on your strengths. ii) Work on improving these strengths. iii) Overcoming intellectual arrogance. It will ultimately give you an idea of what you should be doing and what to avoid in your life, in a relatively short period.

How Do I Perform?

Drucker states that there are very few people who know how to get things done and work in ways that are not their ways, which guarantees non-performance. Drucker questions the reader to ask themselves the following: “Am I a reader or listener? Using John Kennedy and Winston Churchill as examples. To know how you perform, you need to understand how you work best.

(Do you process information better by reading it, or by hearing others discuss it?)
(Do you perform best while making decisions or from advising on other matters?)
(Do you see the results from working alone or in a team?)

All of these questions, once answered properly will indeed help you get the results you are looking for, whilst increasing performance.

What Are My Values?

To be able to manage yourself, you have to ask, what are my values? Try thinking about what is important to you. Living a worthy, ethical life? You must make sure that your job responsibilities and your organization are well aligned with your values. Drucker states that values are at the core of why you are doing a certain job. He uses the anecdote in his own life of where his strengths and the way he performs clashed with his values. He was an Investment Banker in London in the 1930s and was very successful in the profession. However, says, “People, I realized, were what I valued and I saw no point being the richest man in the cemetery”. He ends the chapter with a closing sentence, “Values, in other words, are and should be the ultimate test”.

Where Do I Belong?

A small number of people know very early where they belong and some are lucky to have a clear talent in attributes such as mathematicians, musicians, and cooks directing them straight into a certain career or profession, however, most people do not know where they belong. To know where you belong, you need to consider your strengths and ideal work style. Once you find the perfect fit you will transform from an acceptable employee to a top performer. Drucker says “Knowing where one belongs can transform an ordinary person — hard working and competent but otherwise mediocre — into an outstanding performer.”

What Should I Contribute?

Throughout history, companies have told their workers/employees, what their contributions should be. Today is a lot different, you have choices. More and more people are deciding for themselves what they should do or whether or not they should contribute. But with choices comes responsibility. Deciding what to do and where to focus is a deep skill that we all can improve. Deciding where to focus may well be the most important skill that can be learned and improved with persistence and effort.

Responsibility and Relationships

Very few people work well by themselves and actually achieve results by themselves. This is one of the most important factors to success in a profession and will be the ability to work and communicate effectively with other people. Drucker professes there are two points to understand: i) Others are essentially the same. ii) Taking responsibility for communicating with others. To work effectively with others or in a team, you must understand how they perform, their strengths and their values.

The Second Half of Your Life

For the final chapter, Drucker discusses how in the past, with labour-like jobs such as mill, railroad workers, there was an understanding that it was a job that lasted for 40 years and if you had made it past that point, you would be quite happy to spend the rest of your life doing nothing. However, modern knowledge-based jobs often lead to boredom and “the mid-life crisis”. At around 45 years where boredom supervenes after most business executives have reached the peak in their career. Making the preparation of for, and managing, a ‘second career’ is imperative.

Drucker states the three methods of creating your ‘second career’, i) Actually creating one. He uses an example of mid-level manager leaving a corporation to attend law school and become a small-town attorney. ii) Developing a parallel job. This occurs when the individual reaches the peak in their career and decides to work either part-time or as a consultant. iii) Social entrepreneurship. This route is often pursued by professionals who have achieved very high levels of success in their career and chooses to spend their time on a non-profit organisation.

With modern opportunity comes responsibility, says Drucker. Learning how to manage ourselves is as important a skill and process as there is, no matter where we go or what we do, our selves will always be with us.

Drucker summarises the book perfectly. “Knowledge workers outlive organisations and they are mobile. The need to manage oneself is therefore creating a revolution in human affairs”.

You can grab yourself a copy of the book – Managing Oneself ‘Peter F. Drucker’ from Amazon UK here.
NOTE:(This is an affiliate link, so i will earn a commission if you purchase through the link.)

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1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for another wonderful article. Where else could anybody get that kind of information in such an ideal way of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such info.

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