Driven by an insatiable curiosity about the world around him—and a deep desire to make that world a better place, Peter Drucker’s career as a writer, consultant and teacher spanned more than six decades. His groundbreaking work turned modern management theory into a serious discipline and he influenced thousands of today’s corporate leaders (including myself).
Drucker cared not just about how business manages its resources, but also how organizations operate morally and ethically within society. He respected the values of education, personal responsibility and contribution.
The Critical Question
What I really wanted to expand on in this article was the concept of contribution. Most people that I have worked with or who have worked for me – are all on the quest towards success. However, Drucker always suggested that the critical question that we must ask ourselves is not, “How can I achieve?” but “What can I contribute?” We must all replace the quest for success with the quest for contribution.
The Focus on Contribution
Drucker argues that “the focus on contribution by itself supplies the four basic requirements of effective human relations: communications; teamwork; self-development; and development of others.”
When I think about the issues I have had in the past with my team, one of the common misconceptions was that they perceived their value based more on their own achievements rather than what they actually contributed to the organization. A startup is a meritocracy, so your value to the organization is directly tied to how resourceful you are, what you’re accountable for and ultimately, what you have actually contributed.
What is Contribution?
Contribution refers to three areas critical to organizational success **:
- Results, most commonly measured in the form of dollars, or sales and profits. Results are a sine qua non for every organization.
- Building values and sustaining them. This covers the purpose of the organization; the vision and excellence required to fulfill this purpose, and the ethical framework for the organization.
- Building and developing people for tomorrow. The effective manager, in the very act of looking upward and outward towards goals to discover their contribution, raise the sights of others in the organization.
** This is an excerpt from The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker.
So the next time you’re uncertain about where you stand in an organization, I will quote Peter Drucker and tell you, “just go out and make yourself useful”. Every organization will value those that are relentlessly resourceful.