One Useful Strategy for Becoming More Useful

Peter Drucker encouraged leaders to ask, “How do we make ourselves useful?”

Daniel Pink’s research indicates three drives motivate us.

  1. Autonomy: the desire to be self-directed.
  2. Mastery: the urge to get better at stuff.
  3. Purpose: making a contribution.

Combining Drucker and Pink:

Leaders are useful when they honor the contribution of others.

Honoring contributions:

  1. Explain the positive impact others make.
  2. Highlight the positive qualities others have.

Explaining positive impact is good. But, highlighting the positive qualities that got the job done is exponentially better. For example …

Saying, “I’m impressed with your creativity when you solved our production problem.” is better than, “Thanks for helping us meet our production targets.”

People focus:

People get lost behind production pressures; we make them cogs in the machine. Overcome “cog mentality” by refocusing on people.

Refocus on people by honoring them more than production.

Leaders who say, “It’s all about the people.” and honor production over people are inconsistent hypocrites. I’m not suggestion you stop honoring production. But if it’s all about the people, then focus on the people.

If you honor them, they will produce.

Added bonus:

When you honor the talents and skills of others, they will honor your wisdom with loyalty.

Too much:

It’s impossible to honor positive qualities too much as long as you always connect honor with current, specific examples of performance. Always include performance. Excluding performance lowers honor to a compliment. Compliments are good, but honor is better.

You get what you honor.

What are some useful ways to honor people?


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