Working through The Effective Executive.  It is full of really good stuff.  In the section on getting the most out of the strengths of your team, Drucker writes, "the idea that there are ‘well-rounded’ people, people who have only strengths and no weaknesses … is a prescription for mediocrity if not for incompetence (p. 72)."

Now I’m a big fan of Marcus Buckingham’s, NOW, Discover Your Strengths.  But what Drucker is writing about is actually more foundational than what you’ll find in Buckingham’s work.  What Drucker is saying is that you can’t structure a job to fit the personalities available.  He says that "this advertised ‘cure’ is actually worse than the disease."  Instead, if we are to work from strength we must first define the job, "it must be objective; that is determined by the task rather than the personality."

This is a very significant wrinkle.  Most of us inherit at least some staff.  Some of our team is already in place.  And so we’re in the game of determining who ought to be on the bus and then figuring out what seat they ought to be in on the bus, before we determine where the bus is going…to use Collin’s Good to Great analogy.  But again, what Drucker is saying precedes this thinking.  First, you define the position.  Then, you find a person whose strengths match what it is that you’re trying to do.

If you inherit at least some of your team, can this be done without pain?  No.  What can be done?  Stay tuned.


A Prescription for Mediocrity