Before I go any further in my self-indulgent listing of lessons from my 32-year career, let’s link to lessons from someone who epitomizes life-long learning, the great management consultant Peter Drucker. This lovely piece, which is making the rounds of Twitter today, has Drucker reflecting on the 7 most important lessons he learned as a knowledge worker. A couple that stand out for me:
- An editor-in-chief early in his career who reviewed the team’s performance every six months or so by discussing as a group what 1. they had done well; 2. things they had tried to do well; 3. areas where they had not tried hard enough; and 4. areas where they had failed.
- The only way to make a difference is to make a difference in the lives of other people.
All 7 of the lessons are gems, but the two I cite above resonate most with my career experience. We have to find a way to engage everyone on the team in productive conversations about our performance; this is too often not done well or not done at all in the federal environment. And the secret to managing is to focus on helping people learn and grow. We don’t manage organizations; we facilitate people.