Friday, March 14, 2014

Understand How You Perform Best

In writing about Managing Oneself,  Peter Drucker placed a great deal of importance on the need, particularly for knowledge workers, to understand “how you perform” best. 

Are you a reader or listener? Fail to understand which you are and then relying
on the wrong one and you will not perform or achieve excellence.  Drucker points to Dwight Eisenhower who learned by reading and excelled as Supreme Commander of Allied forces in Europe when supplied with written briefs.  But when he stepped into a new roll as President and attempted to follow the oral briefing methods of Truman and Roosevelt, both listeners, he appeared ill-prepared and equipped in front of the Press. The opposite was true of Lyndon Johnson, a listener, who inherited his predecessor’s staff.  Kennedy was a reader. Johnson never effectively absorbed written briefs.

Some of us (I’m one and you could also be) do not learn by either reading or listening.  We learn by writing. As it was for Churchill and Beethoven; neither reading nor listening is enough.  I must write about it to learn.  I must write about it to develop the idea or craft the strategy, the solution, the transaction, the opportunity, etc. We are sometimes mislabeled as people who have to “sleep on it”.  We make our best and most creative decisions after we have found a quiet corner and written about it.  

Just as listening and reading are not enough for writers, there are those who learn by hearing themselves talk. They need people in the room listening to their ideas and explorations.  Drucker, himself a talker, says that learning through talking is by no means unusual and notes that successful trial lawyers are often talk learners. 

There is no right method.  There is no wrong method.  But try to be what you are not, and you greatly reduce you effectiveness.  Once you have your own answer, tell others.  When those you work with understand how you “perform best,” the collaborative results are improved.  That, of course, means that next you should determine how others around you “perform best”.  Who are the readers and listeners? Who are the writers and talkers?  Understanding each other improves team results. 

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Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio editon of The Claret Murders go to The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.

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