It’s “What is Right” that Counts
I learned a great deal from my day with Peter Drucker. He demonstrated his humility, as he did with so many others. When once asked what he did for a living, his response was a simple one, “I am a writer,” underscoring his understated manner. But he also told me that he “established management as a social discipline,” which was “probably my greatest contribution.” That told me that he was indeed humble, but he had his legacy in mind as well that December, Monday morning.
One lesson I learned from Drucker was that it never mattered who was right in an organization. That was something he learned from Alfred Sloan, the GM chairman that Drucker studied up close for most of two years.
It doesn’t matter who is right, insisted Sloan, but what is right that matters most.
That’s something I have thought of many times. Think about the people you work with. Do you know someone who is more interested in getting the credit than making sure the organization achieves its goals? I am afraid to say I knew many of these people earlier in my career. They acted one way in front of their bosses, and a different way when they were with their peers. With their bosses they wanted to be sure that the spotlight was on them and their achievements. They wanted to be sure that anything positive they did was center stage with the higher ups.
Drucker hated this sort of behavior. So much so that he felt anyone who thought who was right was more important than what was right had no business being a manager. Drucker felt that a truly authentic manager was one who had the maturity and the responsibility to worry far more about getting things right—-doing the right things for the good of the organization. Who got the credit was unimportant. Keep that in mind the next time someone close to you exhibits the selfish behavior Drucker warned about. Especially when you have to make hiring, firing or promotion decisions—what Ducker referred to as life and death decisions.