Beyond Peter Drucker’s Five Most Important Questions
Peter Drucker believed the five most important questions you will ever ask about your organization are:
- What is our Mission?
- Who is our Customer?
- What does the Customer Value?
- What are our Results?
- What is our Plan?
The most important thing about you:
The most important thing about you, after Drucker’s five questions, is the way you treat each other while you fulfill your mission.
Getting things done is an immediate concern that often obscures long-term issues like building an organization where people love coming to work.
The long-term concerns of servant leaders go beyond getting things done.
The trouble with long-term issues is neglecting them doesn’t hurt until tomorrow.
Urgency has the power to elevate the trivial to important.
You aspire to build engaged teams that distribute responsibilities and share ownership. But short-term urgencies give you permission to bark orders, ignore feedback, and threaten anyone who doesn’t “get on board.”
The tyranny of the urgent becomes an excuse to prioritize short-term results over long-term issues and enduring value.
The altar of short-term success is a tempting place to sacrifice values and character.
Short-term urgencies obscure long-term realities.
Character is acting with long-term realities in mind, even when pressured by short-term urgencies.
Things like respect, connection, and timely feedback matter most when you’re tempted to ignore them.
You might be able to ignore culture building while you chase short-term urgencies. But you end up hating the organization you’re building and despising the role you play.
3 concerns beyond results:
- WHY you do what you do.
- The WAY things get done.
- The WAY we treat each other while we work.
Delivering results is a challenge. This is your opportunity to reflect on issues that go beyond results.
What are some long-term concerns of servant leadership?
How might leaders navigate issues that go beyond results?
Dan, Peter Drucker was always ahead of his time. The key items you touched on are Culture and Leadership. These two characteristics can mold and form an organization and its team or break them apart. They are often viewed as the flip side of each other. A lot more gets written about Leadership because Culture is harder to see or define. Both take a lot of work! Great post.
Brad James, author The Business Zoo
Thanks Brad. Culture feels intangible. Perhaps we need to train ourselves to observe interactions, feel the environment, and observe how things get done.
We should evaluate success not but how we imagine ourselves but by how we actually treat each other, especially when under pressure.
This post is right on target. I have been with a 100+ year company for 20 years. It was a private company had a wonderful culture, customer & quality focused, valuing and developing it people. About 12 years ago, an account became CEO. I liked and respected him and interviewed him for a college paper on the effect of culture and technology on companies. The paper was very positive. One of the CEO’s quotes was “It is very hard to change culture …” But within 2 years, we went from being voted one of the state’s Best Companies to Work For to very bad morale and an exodus of talent. Short term gain (shareholder value) became the whole focus. The Good Old Boys, once professional, ethical and caring, became greedy, aloof, toxic. The company faltered badly for about 10 years. Of course, the crash of 2008 did not help.
I am happy that our company, under new management, is finally thriving and positively developing its employees and providing a much better work environment. It is ironic that the CEO I interviewed stated it was hard to change culture, yet under his reign, the culture soured quickly and deeply. I have always thought (and said) that the cause was putting short-term, immediate profits ahead of long term profit, ethics and health, at the expense of its employees and even its customers.
OUTSTANDING! One of my longstanding leadership axioms has been “never sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate”. You really nailed this one Brother. All the data in the world showing the lack of engagement and the decline in productivity in US and EU workforce’s might as well be written in invisible ink because leaders are not making the connection between the long term care and tending that culture requires VS the quarter-by-quarter check the box mentality that permeates business today. This is getting shared a bunch today!! Jim
I love this Dan. “What” Questions only go so far. Why is more intrinsic, goes deeper, gives meaning to what we’re doing and helps us stay focused while trying to “get things done”.
Hey Devin. Thanks for jumping in. It’s interesting that “why” questions keep us focused. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it makes sense.
Perhaps “why” questions keep us focused on what matters. I think we tend to get lost in day-to-day activities and lose sight of the big picture.
Mission is so important and so often “not there”.
Leadership at the mid-level is so often dominated by urgency. The quote “when you’re up to your neck in alligators, it’s hard to remember that your mission was to drain the swamp” is so, so true.
Tagging on to the thought of mitchk999: Not focusing on the important issue creates the urgent; chasing the most urgent issue is followership, not leadership.
the issue isn’t usually us chasing the urgent issue – it’s the urgent issue chasing US!
I think it connects to raising children. If your goal is to get them to be successful in __ skill, grade, assignment, chore, character trait, or even just out of your hair, you miss the point. You’re not only raising a child, you are raising an adult and shaping a human being.
As leaders, we can focus on the short term, but servant leaders are not only shaping their team, their project, and their results; they are shaping the future servant leaders. When we are gone-to another position, company, or retirement, how are we shaping those we are serving to continue our legacy and shape their own after we are gone?
This is a great post and very timely .I am just preparing a class on Organizations ,Leadership and Servant Leadership for the Doctoral cohort I teach .I have always use Drucker’s questions in this class but after reading your blog I believe I will add one question that a Servant leader would want to ask, #6 How do we support and grow those we lead? This question makes perfect sense when we consider that Greenleaf noted the criteria to measure servant leadership is how much those you lead have grown as a result of your leadership.I see this as true in any organization.
Thanks for this post .It has really helped clarify my thinking