Friday, March 28, 2008

Rising to the Top - Azara Feroz Sayed

I saw that almost the entire 'Managing Oneself' article of Peter Drucker is available on google books. I have pasted the URL here. This is the first article in Classic Drucker book. I got hooked on to the book with this article. I hope you all will enjoy reading it as well. Thanks to Feroz for introducing me to one more good friend!

The comments, Successful careers are not planned. They develop when individuals are prepared for oppurtunities because they know their strengths, their method of work, and their values. Knowing where one belongs can transform an ordinary person-hardworking and competent but otherwise mediocre-into an outstanding performer, made me change the title of the post from "Managing Oneself" - the PDF version

I have included excerpts from the article in the post below. A Movie trivia - Which movie comes to your mind as you read about the "mirror test" in opening of the section "What are my values?" in the article (page 10 of the book on google books or page 5 of the PDF on the site)

I was attending Feroz's guest lecturer class to Banglore University Distant Learning Students on "Ethics in Organization". He first of all started the session with a screening of the song 'kaata laga' and then 'yeh mera dil' the Helen song from Don. The 100+ students, in the big class, agreed that 'yeh mera dil' song, screened almost 20 yrs before, was more obscene. Feroz went on with the class to explain why it is so - because of increased awareness of ethics in society and so on.... To explain ethics, he drew the students attention to the dialog from Ghulam (Waterfront) - where Hari, the social worker talks to Siddharth(Terry) about having the courage to look in the mirror in the morning. I could feel the class getting glued on after that - it gets quiet and you know it ...I wish all professors could address to the varied knowlege capture mechanisms of students i.e. some learn by hearing, some learn by visuals, some by making a connection to the past. Peter Drucker's article too talks about how do we learn? If Peter Drucker is known for his phrase making, Feroz has all my adualtion, for his ability to make connection to the right phrase in his communications and win! I cannot stop bragging about my one in a million husband. Knowing Feroz, I know what he is thinking about this comment. Well, I have one husband, Feroz, and not million husbands! I feel he is God's special creation - a true one in a million creation - to have been blessed with so many skills, inteligence, creativeness, memory, artistic bend of mind. He is the singer, musician, painter, modellor, interior decorator, cook, plumber, carpenter, welder, electronics engineer, electrician....of the house - he uses these as oppurtunities for practising creativity - the ship model in the icon of the blog is Feroz's wood model - the photography is mine to explain not having the complete ship. I have to pray for 5+ times everyday to thank God for blessing me with him and to have him for the rest of my life!

Managing OneSelf

We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity: If you’ve got ambition and smarts, 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 employees’ careers; knowledge workers must, effectively, be their own chief executive officers. It’s up to you to carve out your place, to know when to change course, and to keep yourself engaged and productive during a work life that may span some 50 years. To do those things well, you’ll need to cultivate a deep understanding of yourself—not only what your strengths and weaknesses are but also how you learn, how you work with others, what your values are, and where you can make the greatest contribution. Because only when you operate from strengths can you achieve true excellence.

History’s great achievers—a NapolĂ©on, a da Vinci, a Mozart—have always managed themselves. That, in large measure, is what makes them great achievers. But they are rare exceptions, so unusual both in their talents and their accomplishments as to be considered outside the boundaries of ordinary human existence. Now, most of us, even those of us with modest endowments, will have to learn to manage ourselves. We will have to learn to develop ourselves. We will have to place ourselves where we can make the greatest contribution. And we will have to stay mentally alert and engaged during a 50-year working life, which means knowing how and when to change the work we do.

What Are My Strengths? - Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong. More often, people know what they are not good at—and even then more people are wrong than right. And yet, a person can perform only from strength. One cannot build performance on weaknesses, let alone on something one cannot do at all.

The only way to discover your strengths is through feedback analysis. Whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, write down what you expect will happen. Nine or 12 months later, compare the actual results with your expectations.

Practiced consistently, this simple method will show you within a fairly short period of time, maybe two or three years, where your strengths lie—and this is the most important thing to know. The method will show you what you are doing or failing to do that deprives you of the full benefits of your strengths. It will show you where you are not particularly competent. And finally, it will show you where you have no strengths and cannot perform.

Several implications for action follow from feedback analysis. First and foremost, concentrate on your strengths. Put yourself where your strengths can produce results.

Second, work on improving your strengths. Analysis will rapidly show where you need to improve skills or acquire new ones.

Third, discover where your intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and overcome it. Far too many people-especially people with great expertise in one area-are contemptuous of knowledge in other areas or believe that being bright is a substitute for knowledge. First-rate engineers, for instance, tend to take pride in not knowing anything about people. Taking pride in sich ignorance is self-defeating. Go to work on acquiring the skills and knowledge you need to fully realize your strengths.

It is equally essential to remedy your bad habits-the things you do or fail to do that inhibit your effectiveness and performance. Such habits will quickly showup in the feedback.

At the same time, feedback will also reveal when the problem is due to lack of manners. Manners are the lubricating oil of an organization. It is a law of nature that two moving bodies in contact with each other create friction. This is true for human beings as it is for inanimate objects. Manners-simple things like saying "please" and "thank you" and knowing a person's name or asking after their family-enable two people to work together whether they like each other or not. Bright people, especially bright young people, often do not understand this. If analysis shows that someone's brilliant work fails again and again as soon as co-operation from others is required, it probably indicates a lack of courtesy-that is lack of manners.

Comparing your expectation with your results also indicates what not to do. We all have a vast number of areas in which we have no talent or skill and little chance of becoming even mediocre. In those areas a person-and especially a knowledge worker-should not take on. One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence. It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mdiocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.

How do I Perform? - Like one's strength, how one performs in unique. It is a matter of personality. Whether personality be a matter of nature or nurture, it surely is formed long before a person goes to work. And how a person performs is a given, just as what a person is good at or not good at is a given. A person's way of performing can be slightly modified, but it is unlikely to be completely changed-and certainly not easily. Just as people achieve results by doing what they are good at, they also achieve results by working in ways that they best perform.

It is important to ask the below questions to manage yourself effectively and to use the knowledge that comes up in this exercise - to not to take on work you cannot perform or will perform poorly
- Am I a reader or listener
- How do I learn
- Do I work well with people-in what relationship or am I a loner
- Do I produce results as decision maker or as an adviser
- Do I perform well under stress
- Do I need highly structured and predictable environment
- Do I work best in big organization or a small one

What are my Values? - The mirror test is, What kind of person do I want to see in the mirror in the morning? To work in an organization whose value system is unacceptable or incompatible with one's own condemns a person both to frusteration and to non-performance

Where do I Belong? - Knowing answers to What are my strenghts? How do I perform? What are my values? define Where we belong?

What should I Contribute? - To answer this question we need to address three distinct elements
- What does the situation require
- Give my strengths, my way of performing, my values, how can I make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done
- What results have to be achieved to make a difference. A plan can usually cover no more thatn 18 months and still be reasonably clear and specific. So the question should be whare and how can I achieve the results that will make a difference within the next one and a half year? The answer must balance several things. The results should require stretching but also should be within reach - the results should be meaningful, visible to make a difference

Responsibility for Relationships - Managing yourself requires taking responsibility for relationships. The first part is to accept the fact that other people are as much individuals as you yourself are. This means that they too have their strengths, they too have their ways of getting things done;they too have their values. To be effective, therefore, you have to know the strengths, the performance modes and the values of your co-workers. Bosses are neither title on the organization chart nor a function. They are individuals and are entitled to do their work in way they do it best. It is incumbent on the people who work with them to observe them, to find out how they work, and to adapt themselves to what makes their bosses most effective. This, in fact, is the secret of "managing" the boss. The second part of relationship responsibility is taking responsibility for communication. The most common complaint in an organization is lack of communication. People don't know what is going on in the organization. Peter Drucker mentions, the reason they do not know is that they have not asked and therefore have not been told. The failure to ask reflects human stupidity. Organizations are no longer built on force but on trust, The co-existence of trust between people does not necessarily mean people like each other. It means they understand one another. Taking responsibility for relationships is therefore an absolute necessity. It is a duty whether one is a member of the organization, a consultant, supplier, customer.


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