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Managing Oneself: The Best-Kept Secret of Total Success

Contributor: Editorial Staff
Posted: 03/13/2017
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From the moment The Effective Executive hit the bookshelves in 1967, Peter F. Drucker was leading a self-management revolution. Drucker's central thesis? "Knowledge workers must take responsibility for managing themselves."

In both The Effective Executive and its superb 2006 sequel The Effective Executive in Action (with Joseph Maciariello), readers find basic principles and practices of management success. These books explain and document the attitudes, practices, and habits exemplified by high-performance executives.

Advice From Newt Gingrich

Indeed, The Effective Executive instantaneously took the management world by storm. Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives said:

I first learned about Peter Drucker years ago from a professor at Georgia Tech… Although I was a student at Emory, I had been sent to Georgia Tech by Gene Sanders, Georgia's Republican state senator at the time, to see Pete Jensen, a computer-science professor there. If I really wanted to understand the modern world, Senator Sanders told me, Jensen could help me learn. One of Jensen's first observations was that I didn't need to know about computers as much as I needed to know about thinking... And there was no better way to learn about thinking than to read Peter Drucker, he said

Gingrich goes on to explain how coming across The Effective Executive at the U.S. Information Agency Library changed his life:

To this day I recommend to virtually every group of students—in high schools, colleges, the military war colleges—as well as incoming members of Congress, that they buy a paperback copy of The Effective Executive so they can read it, underline it, and take it out when she/he has to reread it. It is the most powerful book I've encountered on how to be effective.

Making Knowledge Workers More Productive

With knowledge workers becoming the main asset of many organizations, Peter F. Drucker asked and brilliantly answered the question: "What is needed to increase the productivity of knowledge workers?" Drucker believed every knowledge worker (from CEOs to IT professionals) should be asked the following questions at least once a year:

  1. What do you contribute that justifies your being on the payroll?
  2. What should this company, this hospital, this government agency, this university, hold you accountable for, by way of contributions and results?
  3. Do you know what your goals, priorities, and objectives are? And what do you plan to do to attain them?

Drucker said effective, opportunity-focused executives must know "the specific strengths of people, particularly of those with a proven record of performance… What do they do well? Where do they belong? Are they assigned to where the application of their strengths produce results?" 

But—and this is a very big "but"—knowledge workers themselves must be taught to think through how to answer the above three Drucker questions (plus others)… and to review, appraise, and judge their specific contributions. Thankfully, Drucker showed us how to convert self-management principles and practices into a discipline that can be taught, learned, and practiced.

Self-Management: Self-Taught Versus Formalized Instruction?

We believe many organizations will soon require employees take structured courses (online and off-line) in self-management. Experience in self-management teaches us to reduce the number of mistakes we make. But none of us has time for continuous trial-and-error learning with respect to this all-important productivity boosting methodology. Without doubt, formalized instruction in self-management enables people to acquire the effective skills quickly and successfully. Hopefully, the materials we will be publishing in variety of formats will be of great assistance in this effort. (Please contact us if you require more information).

Extending Drucker's Effective Executive Into the Digital Age

With Drucker's passing in 2005, there's been a disciplined, strong movement to update (where necessary) Drucker's effective executive methodologies to align with the digital age. Indeed, that's one of the goals of Management Matters Network.

We begin our series of 21st century self-management articles (and future webinars) with celebrated Drucker-inspired executive effectiveness expert Dr. Jeremy Hunter detailing Drucker's basic management effectiveness principles supported by the latest scientific and medical breakthroughs.

Bottom line: We can literally force our brains to work in new and marvelous ways by adapting new thought patterns, tools, and experiences. There's a built-in treasure chest in our heads. It contains the answers to billions of questions. Dr. Hunter will teach you how to get the treasure out of your heads and make it an active part of daily problem solving. It boils down to making full use of your greatest asset, your ability to think. Over the course of the next several months, Dr. Hunter will explain how knowledge workers must be taught (or teach themselves) how to self-manage. This includes breaking the cycle of multitasking, understanding where your perceptions derive from, developing the right mindset, practicing time management, directing your attention to the best way to produce required performance and results, and liberating yourself from self-imposed restraints.

The effective executive in the digital age builds on the pioneering work and insights of both Peter Drucker and Joseph Maciariello. Enjoy!

Note: This article is a repost from SSON's sister portal Mangement Matters. Please check this site for informative content to help you become a better manager.

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Contributor: Editorial Staff