Peter, John, and Contribution

Recently I read the late management guru Peter Drucker’s classic, The Effective Executive. It more than lives up to its reputation as the definitive work on the subject of self-management and is worth reading and then stepping back and remembering that it was written nearly 40 years ago. Talk about a though leader. Anyone discussing business and management today has to own up to the fact that Drucker was probably there several decades ago. 

I followed this up with another modern non-fiction classic, David McCullough’s John Adams. In addition to being one of our founding fathers, Adams was himself an effective executive. The quintessential Drucker tenet that Adams exemplified was that of contribution. Drucker maintains that an effective executive focuses on their contribution to their organization — what they contribute that no one else can that adds value to the organization as a whole.

Case in point, Adams was instrumental in recommending the appointment of George Washington as commander in chief of the Continental Army because he accurately assessed the strengths of the tall Virginian. A year later he would defer the glory of drafting the Declaration of Independence to another Virginian, Thomas Jefferson. As McCullough notes, had he only made these two key contributions, he would still deserve placement in our history books. Say nothing of his work as president of the War Board, numerous congressional committees, his vice-presidency, and later his presidency that helped set the stage for centuries of chief executives.

The Point? Think of today in terms of your contribution. Think of Peter, John, and their contributions and go forth and add value to your organization!