Cap 4. Making Strength Productive
The effective executive makes strength productive. He knows that one cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths - the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one’s own strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities. To make strength productive is the unique purpose of organization. It cannot, of course, overcome the weakness with which each of us is abundantly endowed. But it can make them irrelevant. Its task is to use the strength of each man as a building block for joint performance.
Whoever tries to place a man or staff an organization to avoid weakness will end up at best with mediocrity. The idea that there are “well-rounded” people, people who have only strengths and no weakness (whether the term used is the “whole man”, the “mature personality,” the “well-adjusted personality,” or the “generalist”) is a prescription for mediocrity if not for incompetence. Strong people always have strong weakness too. Where there are peaks, there are valleys. And no one is strong in many areas. Measured against the universe of human knowledge, experience, and abilities, even the greatest genius would have to be rated a total failure. There is no such thing as a “good man”. Good for what? is the question.
Five Practices of Effective Executives
These are essentially five such practices - five such habits of mind that have to be acquired to be an effective executive:
1 - Effective executives know where their time goes. They work systematically at managing the little of their time that can be brought under their control.
2. Effective executives focus on outward contribution. They gear their efforts to results rather than to work. They start out with the question, “What results are expected of me?” rather than with the work to be done, let alone with its techniques and tools.
3. Effective executives build on strengths - their own strengths, the strengths of their superiors, colleagues, and subordinates; and on the strengths in the situations, this is, on what they can do. They do not build on weakness. They do no start out with the things they cannot do.
4. Effective executives concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results. They force themselves to set priorities and stay with their priority decisions. They know that they have no choice but to do first things firsts - and second things not at all. The alternative is to get nothing done.
5. Effective executives, finally, make effective decisions. They know this is, above all, a matter of system - of the right steps in the right sequence. They know that an effective decision is always a judgment based on “dissenting opinions” rather than on “consensus of the facts.” And they know that to make many decision fast means to make the wrong decisions. What is needed are few, but fundamental, decisions. What is needed is the right strategy rather than razzle-dazzle tactics.
The Effective Executive - Peter Drucker