The secret to effective organizations

The secret to successful organizations is the placement of people, particularly leaders.

Peter Drucker writes,

In human affairs, the distance between the leaders and the average is a constant. If leadership performance is high, the average will go up. The effective executive knows that it is easier to raise the performance of one leader than it is to raise the performance of the whole mass. He therefore makes sure that he puts into the leadership position, into the standard-setting, the performance-making position, the man who has the strength to do the outstanding, the pace-setting job.

Getting the right leaders in place is the secret!

But drill down into that a little bit and you’ll discover another secret – putting the right leaders in place typically involves intentionally overlooking some glaring weaknesses.

It is a fault in the recruiting process to look for the “well-rounded individual.” That individual typically will be nothing more than average. Drucker says, “Strong people always have strong weaknesses too. Where there are peaks, there are valleys.” Disagree? Name one “well-rounded” individual who has made a significant contribution and I’ll show you at least double the amount of lopsided people who have done the same or greater!

Drucker says that the effective leader, “knows that only strength produces results. Weakness only produces headaches – and the absence of weakness produces nothing.”

So what does all of this mean? When building your team, it is better to pick people of strength who have obvious weaknesses than it is to pick people who have no obvious weaknesses.

CAVEAT from Drucker: To build a team with this emphasis requires “focus on the one strength of [a leader] and dismissal of weaknesses as irrelevant unless they hamper the full deployment of the available strength.” In other words, if their weakness violates the integrity of the organization, it is a disqualifier.

So there you have it… pick your leaders based on their strengths, not their seeming lack of weaknesses and you’ll be well on your way to an effective organization.

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