John Gehl and Suzanne Douglas produce a wonderful weekly e-mail summary of the most important and interesting stories on innovation. Innovation Weekly includes sections on trends, strategies, and new products and services that reflect the world’s most innovative thinking. In this week’s edition, the authors do an astonishing job of extracting more from a short Forbes interview with Peter Drucker than meets the eye. Their summary follows. Compare it to the original Forbes article and you’ll see why I think Innovation Weekly is such essential reading.

Drucker on Leadership, by John Gehl & Suzanne Douglas

In this month’s Forbes, the great management consultant Peter Drucker has a new round of advice for leaders:

  1. Don’t start out asking, “What do I want to do?”– instead ask “What needs to be done?” and then ask “Of those things that would make a difference, which are right for me?”
  2. Check your actual performance against your stated goals, and make continuous adjustments.
  3. Be purpose-driven, and mission driven, and highly focused, so that you avoid trying do a little bit of 25 things and getting nothing done.
  4. Learn the art of “creative abandonment”: Teach yourself to stop pouring resources into things that have achieved their purpose.
  5. Don’t travel so much: Make people come to you.
  6. Develop your priorities — and don’t have more than two. (“And when you are finished with two jobs or reach the point where it’s futile, make the list again. Don’t go back to priority three. At that point, it’s obsolete.”)
  7. Make your communications precise, and after a meeting write the participants a two-page note saying “This is what I think we discussed. This is what I think we decided. This is what I think you committed yourself to within what time frame…What do you expect from me as you seek to achieve your goals?”
  8. Don’t count on your charisma, count on your trustworthiness, the way Truman and Reagan did. Truman “was as bland as a dead mackerel” but “everybody who worked for him worshiped him because he was absolutely trustworthy. If Truman said no, it was no, and if he said yes, it was yes. And he didn’t say no to one person and yes to the next one on the same issue.”

[Pollard’s two cents: What fascinates me about this list is that it’s less about leadership than it is about personal work habits, and setting an example of personal productivity. This list is really for everyone, not just leaders, and it’s really about Getting Things Done.]

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