A lot of us think if only I were in charge… things would be different. I’d make this happen; I wouldn’t let that happen. We’re sure we could do better.
But the truth is that if you’ve ever been responsible for the livelihoods of other people, you know that it’s not easy. If you are a thinking, caring individual; carrying the fate of a family’s paycheck in your hands is daunting.
In the world of CEO’s, certain people immediately come to mind: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett. Do you think they are good or bad CEOs? Well, it’s hard to argue with success but I wonder what really does make a good chief.
So I turn to a man whose opinion I admire, Peter Drucker. Here’s an article he wrote for Harvard Business Review in 2004 titled, “What Makes an Effective Executive.” In it he says that effective leaders follow 8 simple rules; the last of which is “think and say we, not I.”
Here’s another perspective from the researcher Jim Collins, (Good to Great). “The best CEOs in our research display tremendous ambition for their company combined with the stoic will to do whatever it takes, no matter how brutal (within the bounds of the company’s core values), to make the company great. Yet at the same time they display a remarkable humility about themselves, ascribing much of their own success to luck, discipline and preparation rather than personal genius.”
We get to act as CEO’s of our lives, our families, our careers and perhaps a few other opportunities. Are you confident in your abilities and contribution but humble about how outcomes are achieved? If you are, then maybe the ‘you’ company is on its way to being successful.
I just read a blog post from Guy Kawasaki called, “The Art of Recruiting” (2006). In it, Guy talks about how the idea of “A” players hiring other “A” players and “B” players hiring “C” players. His conclusion is that “A” players actually need to hire “A+” players; candidates better than themselves. While “it takes self-confidence and self-awareness” to do this, “it’s the only way to build a great team.” The Bozo explosion, he notes, is the slippery slope of hiring “B” players who then hire all the way down to “Z” players.
So how do we get to be “A+” players? I’d like to suggest that while we may not all be “A+” players, we can learn to be “A+” versions of ourselves in our chosen field.
Commit to learning how to manage yourself (Peter Drucker) and never stop. Find a mentor or co-mentor and tackle the hard work of self examination. What can I do better; how can I be more effective? What are my strengths and how can I build on them?
Read books. Smart people write books. I love to talk to people about the books that interest them. Reading a book takes effort and it feels great when you finish. Add the book and what you learned to your Linked In profile.
Listen. This seems so elementary and yet, I’m always working on this. Here’s a test. The next time you meet someone new, sit down immediately after your conversation and write down the questions you asked them. Think about how much time you spent listening versus talking. After you shake hands to part company, honestly assess how well you listened. What are the 5 things you learned about that person? What did you admire about them? If you can’t recall, you probably could have listened better.
Demonstrate passion. Guy’s advice to recruiters is to hire passion not skills. To job hunters he says, “Passion can overcome the lack of a ‘perfect’ educational background and work experience.
I learned to listen while raising my children. The more I talked, the less they listened. The more I listened, the more they talked. Pretty simple. Let me know how you are growing to or maintaining your “A+” status. I need all the ideas I can get!
“Show me a company that’s been in business for 50 years and I’ll show you a company on its way out of business,” said management guru Peter Drucker in the 1980’s. Twenty-five years and a host of Fortune 50 companies later, we see that Mr. Drucker was right. His theory was that big companies get arrogant, stop listening to customers and fail to innovate. So how do we keep ourselves from becoming complacent? We do that by constantly learning.
I recently came across an article Drucker wrote called,”Managing Oneself”, in the June 20005 issue of the Harvard Business Review. In it, he says that each of us should understand how we learn. As a person who was trained as a teacher, I know that certain people learn by seeing and others by listening. But I had not heard about two other ways in which many people learn; by writing or reading.
This comes as some comfort to me as I am a reader. I take in everything and somehow digest it. If I attend a class or a lecture, I need to take notes and then go back and read them over.
His article talks about how President Kennedy was a reader and so he surrounded himself with writers. When President Johnson, a listener, took over the Presidency, he kept the writers, but did not learn from them the way Kennedy had. Lyndon Johnson “destroyed his presidency by not knowing that he was a listener,” Drucker observes.
He goes on to say that most knowledge workers don’t understand how they learn and therefore fail to perform well consistently over time. Our work and our personal relationships could improve if we know ourselves better. Please share with me about how you learn and work to avoid becoming a dinosaur.