Managing Oneself: a Lesson from Peter Drucker

Guest post by Paolo Gallo  Executive Coach, Speaker, Author

Harvard Business Review has recently celebrated its 100th birthday by publishing
HBR at 100 their greatest hits, with the most influential and innovative articles.

You will find thinkers and authors such as Michael Porter, John Kotter, Amy
Edmonson, Linda Hill and many more. HBR chose Peter Drucker (1909-2005) as
#1 on their list, as he’s the father of modern management and leadership. In his
long and creative life, Peter Drucker has contributed to business’s philosophical
and practical foundations. For Drucker, management was a liberal art: he always
used interdisciplinary approach with history, philosophy, religion, culture, and

Managing Oneself: a Lesson from Peter Drucker

He was interested in the worker’s mind rather than his hands, building therefore the bridge to understand the knowledge worker – term he coined – who replaced the merely physical worker pertinent to the first and second Industrial Revolutions. HBR selected the article Managing oneself published in 1999.

The basis of Druker’s writing is that Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themself, their strengths, their values and how they can contribute to their organization. The idea is not new, as we know that knowing yourself came originally from Socrates. Drucker proposes to use the following questions to increase your self-awareness and to manage oneself:

1) What are my strengths?

To respond to this crucial question, he suggests
using feedback analysis. In short: every time we take an important decision,
write down the results we expect and anticipate from this decision. Then, a few
months later, compare the results with the desired results. Which results are you
skilled at generating? What do you need to improve? Which habits helped you or
prevented you from achieving what you had in mind?

2) How do I perform and work?

How I can contribute? Peter Drucker refers to how we process information and how we take a decision. By reading? By writing? By discussing with other people, by listening, by talking? In which situation do you give your best? Some work well under pressure while some don’t. What is your preferred work style?

3) What are my values?

Where I do belong? As shared in my book The Compass and the Radar having your value system compatible with one of the organizations you work for is crucial. After understanding your strengths, work style and values, you will be able to find the perfect fit. A meaningful question to ask yourself is “What do I stand for?” and verify if the mission and purpose of the organization is congruent to your answer. One world of cautiousness. Don’t trust corporate videos or elegant statesmen’s: is better to check by your self the credibility – not the visibility – of the company you would like to work for.

The American comedian Margaret Young said, "The way it works is actually in
reverse: First, you must be who you really are, then do what you need to do to
have what you want. Best approach? Look inside yourself first as the journey for
a meaningful career starts inside us. The excellent and impactful article by Peter
Druker provides a solid and practical framework to guide us and to make it happen.

By Paolo Gallo  Executive Coach, Speaker, Author

Over the last 30 years, Paolo Gallo has been Chief Human Resources Officer at the World Economic Forum in Geneva; Chief Learning Officer at The World Bank in Washington DC; and Director of Human Resources at the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development in London.

Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach.

I am an executive coach, bestselling author and keynote speaker. I collaborate with Bocconi and Ashridge Business Schools. In my career I have been chief human resources officer at World Economic Forum in Geneva, chief learning officer at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. and director human resources at European Bank for Reconstruction & Development in London, with previous experiences at International Finance Corporation in Washington, D.C. and Citigroup in London, New York and Milan, my hometown.

I studied organizational behavior at Bocconi University, Milan, was a chartered fellow of the FCIPD, UK and became a certified leadership coach at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. I have worked in more than 80 countries and write for Harvard Business Review (Italian and Arabic) and I am a regular contributor to Forbes and World Economic Forum Agenda Blog, on themes related to careers, future of work, leadership development, executive coaching, resilience and well-being in the workplace, creative decision-making, artifical intelligence and machine learning, trust in the digital age, public speaking and organizational behavior.

I wrote (in Italian) La Bussola del Successo (2016), a mix of coaching, self-improvement, organizational behavior and business ethics. The book has reached its 5th edition, translated into Portuguese, Arabic and Korean with additional languages coming in 2019. The English version, published by Bloomsbury London, is The Compass & the Radar: The Art of building a rewarding career while remaining true to yourself became available in October 2018. I have given more than 50 keynote speeches and two TEDx talks in front of thousands of people worldwide.

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