Managing Oneself

Managing Oneself [Detail]

Peter Drucker’s Managing Oneself is a perennial favourite that I return to year after year. (It’s also one of the books I recommend most often as a speaker.)

It’s short, to the point and can be read in a couple of hours. The advice it contains, however, will reverberate long afterwards. This is why I try to re-read it at least once or twice a year.

Drucker is the author of numerous books, all well worth reading, however, this short book – part of the excellent Harvard Business Review Classics series – always draws me back.

Drucker’s advice focuses on knowing yourself well enough to make the right decisions. Understanding your strengths, being aware of your relationships with others, and knowing how best you communicate. All of these add up, if you’re mindful, to success.

Drucker’s focus on the importance of cultivating (or developing) good manners is something I think we can all learn from. Good manners might seem a little old-fashioned, but I believe they are important to nurturing successful relationships. As Drucker puts it:

Manners are the lubricating oil of an organisation. Manners – simple things like saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and knowing a person’s name or asking after her family – enable two people to work together whether they like each other or not. Bright people, especially bright young people, often do not understand this.

If analysis shows that someone’s brilliant work fails again and again as soon as cooperation from others is required, it probably indicates a lack of courtesy – that is, a lack of manners.

I share this advice regularly with my students.

Being brilliant matters, of course, but I’d argue that being courteous matters even more. In our connected culture, we very rarely work alone, so understanding how we can work better with others can make the difference between success or failure.

I’d strongly recommend you pick up a copy.

Drucker, Peter (2008). Managing Oneself. Harvard: Harvard Business Review Classics.

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