Significant Individual

Beliefs and values, mission and objectives, attitudes, hierarchy, discipline, freedom, systems, skills, material things, coordination, integration, and harmony are all essential for sustained success in buisness. But what about the most important of all organizational resources-the individual? What is the significance of the individual in the life of a corporation?

Historically, the most significant individual in the life of a company has been the founder or an outstanding CEO who came later. Such people have imparted the values and formulated the mission that set the company's direction. They have molded the corporate character and invested all their energies to make the organization come alive. Leaders like Rosenwald and Wood, Vail and Sloan, Woolman and Woodruff, Bata and Marriott and their descendants have created organizations as extensions of their own personalities and given them an independent existence. These people identified themselves so closely with the life of the organizations that, as it was observed of Tom Watson, it is difficult to say where the personality of one ends and the personality of the other begins.

It was not money or position that made these leaders significant. It was attitude and effort-a willingness to give themselves to the organization and to work hard. Work was their religion. With characteristic humor and understatement, Woodruff once remarked: "It was not so difficult. It was mostly a matter of working all the time. Watson almost made it sound easy: "It isn't a hard thing to build up a business if you are willing to do a reasonable amount of work. Make no mistake about it, Watson's idea of "reasonable" was not 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. Nor was Bill Marriott, Sr.'s. He said, "No one can get very far in this life on a forty-hour week.

It is easy to attribute the accomplishments of these leaders to some rare talents or genius, but nearly all of them have frankly denied anything of the kind. Woodruff was quite notably ordinary. "Bob has no particular talents," as one of his dearest admirers and successors at Coca-Cola said. Woolman was a lovable workaholic, but hardly extraordinary except in that regard. James Buchanan Duke, the founder of the American Tobacco Company, was quite explicit about it:

I have succeeded in business not because I have more natural ability than those who have not succeeded, but because I have applied myself harder and stuck to it longer. I know plenty of people who have failed to succeed in anything who have more brains than I had, but they lacked application and determination.

Edison's well-known remark sums it up best: "Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.

Despite the understandable tendency of those around them to admire these leaders and even deify them, it was more an extraordinary effort than an exceptional talent, more a right attitude than a brilliant intellect, that led to their success. The attitude, like the effort, was total and unwavering, a decision to act, a determination to achieve, and an enthusiasm for the challenge. As Duke explained shortly before his death:

I resolved from the time I was a mere boy to do a big business. I loved business better than anything else. I worked from early morning until late at night. I was sorry to have to leave off at night and glad when morning came so I could set at it again.

Admittedly, these individuals did share one characteristic in greater than normal measure, and that was energy. But where did their energy come from? It was itself a product of a decision, a determination, and an enthusiasm. Effort and commitment are the twin keys that release the energy stored up within the human personality. The effort and commitment are the result of a decision. The decision is the expression of an idea. The idea is an idealistic value or a high, distant goal. The idea fixes the direction, the decision sets it in motion, the effort and commitment carry it forward, and the enthusiams lifts it to success. A high idea, a clear decision, a firm commitment, and an overflowing enthusiasm released the energy of these individuals and transformed it into intensity.

Becoming Significant

The process these leaders passed through in achieving success is familiar to us, for it is exactly the same in the individual as it is in the company. Individual personality and corporate personality follow the same path in their development. It has been the thesis of this book that any company that has the knowledge of the process and is willing to make the effort can achieve enduring success. Therefore, it is only logical to ask: Can any individual with a similar knowledge and making a similar effort achieve lasting significance? He or she can indeed. Enduring success for a company and lasting significance for the individual both have the same source. It lies in the undiscovered potentials of personality, individual and corporate.

In truth, the greatest discovery that significant individuals have made was not the unlimited power of organization, though all of them released at least a tiny portion of it, but rather the unlimited potentials of human personality within themselves. They were not so much great leaders possessing great power as they were individuals in whom great power was released, making them appear great.

Any company that really wants to achieve enduring success can achieve it. Any individual who really wants to become significant can become so. The emphasis is on the word wants, because it is "mostly a matter of working all the time," as Woodruff said.


Individual Growth and Corporate Success

How do people become significant? They become significant when they decide to fully develop their capacities and improve their personalities as much as they possibly can. They become significant to the company when they grow. Peter Drucker has written in The Practice of Management:

Man is distinguished from all other resources in that his "development" is not something that is done to him; it is not another or better way of using existing properties. It is growth; and growth is always from within. The work therefore must encourage the growth of the individual and must direct it-otherwise it fails to take full advantage of the specific properties of the human resource.

Contrary to what many believe, life in an organization presents excellent opportunities for individual growth, because people grow primarily through work and social interaction, which are the basis of corporate existence. The greatest benefit an individual can derive from work is the growth of his or her personality to make the person better, stronger, more productive, and happier. The greatest benefit a company can derive from its people is to foster their personal growth, so that their energies and talents can be made fully available to enliven and enhance the life of the organization.

General Wood once reminded his staff at Sears: "We must always consider our 150,000 employees as 150,000 individual human beings, with personalities of their own...who have faith in their leaders, who believe not only in their ability, but in their fairness and justice, and who in return give of their best, freely and willingly. If all of Sears is animated by this spirit, nothing can stop us.

Who is Significant?

What makes an individual significant? We are all significant individuals in our own personal lives; but although most of us like to think so, very few are really significant in the life of a company. Sure, many of us do excellent work, receive recognition, move closely with our boss. Some of us have made a very important sale for the company on occasion or helped develop a new product or a new process. When a special talent or skill is required, many are sought out for their capacity-a crack sales rep to handle a big customer, a bright lawyer for a tough negotiation, a brilliant engineer to solve a difficult technical problem, a knowledgeable accountant to bring order out of chaotic numbers, a manager with a way with words to handle an irate employee or customer, a secretary with a flair for creating advertising copy or drafting letters, a supervisor who inspires subordinates to work hard.

These are notable accomplishments for any employee, but they are not what we mean by being a significant individual in the company. A significant individual is one whom the company needs for its work, not one who needs the company for his or her living. Bill Marriott, Jr., is a significant individual who everyone agrees works harder than anyone else in the company. Why, we asked? To set an example, "so everyone else will work hard," he replied. Telling and Brennan are significant individuals at Sears, who have a vision of the future and are guiding the company to realize it. Goizueta is a significant individual who has directed Coca-Cola into new fields. So is Steve Jobs at Apple.

All these leaders happen to be presidents and chairpersons of the companies they work for, but that is not the real criterion by which to judge their significance. Many chairpersons and CEOs, even of large companies, really do not play a very significant role in the lives of their companies...especially when their contribution is viewed from a historical perspective. Anyone can be significant at any level or in any position. Whoever the significant individuals are, they have these essential attributes:

  1. They feel the work is more important than they are, and they sacrifice their personal convenience in favor of the work. That is why significant people are never nine-to-fivers for five days a week. They are like C. E. Woolman, of whom it was said, "Delta Air Lines was his life.
  2. They always think about the work that is yet to be done and do not dwell on past achievements.
  3. They are not really looking for external recognition and rewards, although both always come in abundant measure. Their real motive for work is the challenge of accomplishment and the sheer joy of growing. They love work because it is its own fulfillment. "I had always enjoyed going to work," said Geneen. "In fact, I never thought of it as work. It was a part of my life, a part of the environment in which I lived and breathed.... Business could be a great adventure, a lot of fun, something to look forward to every day, and the rewards went much further than one's annual salary and bonuses.[10]
  4. They do not just work long hours or spend all their energy. They constantly strive to acquire new skills and to shed present weaknesses, so that they can perform at the highest possible level. They are never satisfied with themselves and always want to be better than they presently are. They try to continuously raise the peak level of their performance.
  5. They are constantly being sought after by the company to take on new and higher responsibilities and constantly being catapulted to higher levels of the organization or to larger organizations and greater rewards.

Many individuals possess one or two of these attributes. There are a number of people who come to work an hour early and leave three hours after closing and work on weekends, too. But that alone is not enough to be significant. They must also work at their highest possible level all the time by developing new capacities, not just work hard and long at what they know or do best. There are many who like their work and the people they work with, the travel, the conventions, the challenge of making a sale or designing a better product, but that, too, is not enough unless they feel the joy that comes from constantly growing.

There are people who may even meet the first four criteria-they may be hardworking, always striving to improve, thinking only of the work still to be done, and feel refreshed and enthused by what they do-yet still not find new opportunities and greater rewards thrust upon them because they do not understand the process by which people grow. They have the goal, the willingness, the urge, and the right attitude, but not the knowledge of how to convert their hidden talents into developed capacities and to effectively express them in action for the good of the company and their own personal growth. This book is especially intended for companies that really want to achieve enduring success but do not know the process. This chapter is especially meant for individuals who really want to become significant but do not know how.


The Way

No individual by virtue of birth, family, wealth, or social position has a monopoly on achievement, any more than any company by virtue of size, resources, or influence has a monopoly on success. Any company at any level can prosper and grow to one, ten, a hundred, or a thousand times its present size. Sears started with nothing and accomplished it over half a century. Apple started with nothing and did it in less than a decade. Whatever the size, whatever the field, there are no limits to growth.

We have all known many people-childhood friends, college roommates, office colleagues, or neighbors-who seemed to be just like us; yet inexplicably, by some stroke of good fortune or particular talent, they shot up in life to a far higher level. To the astonishment of long-time Sears employees, Edward Brennan was promoted to head the merchandise group at the young age of 46 and became president at 50. Brennan started as a salesman in a Wisconsin Sears store in 1956. Ron Allen, an engineer, joined Delta in 1963 doing part-time drafting work and came up through the personnel division to become president in 1984. Don Craib joined Allstate as a claims adjuster in 1950, then became a field manager, and gradually worked his way up till he reached the chairman's post in 1980. Roberto Goizueta, Coca-Cola's Cuban-born chairman, joined the company as a chemist 30 years ago and moved up through the ranks of middle management. At General Mills we met a young marketing director who joined the company just eight years ago as an intern while still in graduate school. She has already been promoted four times and seems headed for a vice-president's job in the near future.

If your own career has not been quite so meteoric, still there may have been a period when you made rapid progress. If you recall now what happened at the time, the urge that drove you forward, the effort you made, the self-discipline you exercised over yourself, the steps and stages you passed through in developing a talent or acquiring a skill, then you get a glimpse of the process by which individuals become significant.

There is a process by which people rise, though many may not be consciously aware of how they have done it. It is not a process meant only for one in a million. It is available to all who really want to achieve and are willing to make the effort. According to psychologists, people utilize only 10 percent of their mental capacities in living a normal life. They also use only a tiny fraction of the energy and abilities their personality is capable of expressing. When individuals release this potential energy and develop these latent talents, they grow. When they channel all that energy into work and express all those talents in their jobs, they become significant.

According to Richard Wytmar, president of an executive recruiting firm, any manager can become an "indispensable executive, provided that the manager is willing to make the effort to develop his or her capacities and that he or she takes a positive attitude toward the work. There is a way.

The Prerequisites

There are certain conditions and prerequisites required to become eligible for any great opportunity in life. The opportunity to become significant is no exception. First of all, you have to know where you are and where you want to go. You have to ask yourself, as Wytmar suggests, What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? How do my skills compare with those of others who have risen to higher levels in the organization? Do I possess all the skills that my boss possesses or that his or her boss possesses? "If you want to move ahead, you've got to look around your organization and ask yourself what kind of skills you need in order to make the move to other positions," says Wytmar. "Then you must acquire those skills and demonstrate the ability to handle broader responsibilities.

What are the attributes required to become significant in any job? There are many, and they are well known: punctuality, orderliness, systematic functioning, a capacity to make decisions, a willingness to delegate authority and responsibility, an ability to communicate clearly and pleasantly and to motivate people, self-discipline and self-restraint, cooperation with others, loyalty, integrity, and so forth.

  • Recognizing strengths. All managers possess certain of these attributes in some measure, and by virtue of these qualities, they have reached their present positions. Exercising one's existing capacities is living, but it is no way to grow. Expressing a known ability is acting out of habit. It is easy and gratifying, but not challenging and energizing. It is energy that makes for growth and advancement, and energy comes from the effort to release latent capacities and to acquire new skills, not to repeat what one already does well. People who always seek out opportunities to express their present skills may be very successful at the present level, but they are likely to remain there. Their bosses may even openly say, "You are the only one who does this work well. I cannot afford to let you go to any other job." Such people have the satisfaction of knowing they are appreciated and wanted, not the challenge of growth and the opportunity for advancement. In other words, progress comes from developing new capacities rather than exercising old ones.
  • Identifying weaknesses. Developing new skills and capacities is not enough for continuous progress. One must also continuously seek to overcome one's present weaknesses. Knowledge of your strengths must be balanced by a knowledge of your weaknesses as well. As most people like to exercise their existing talents, they also like to avoid doing anything they are not good at. Often they do so under the excuse, "That work does not suit me."Weaknesses are of many types. Each one corresponds to an absence of a positive attribute listed above. Some people are perennially late; others, notoriously sloppy. Some have disorderly desk drawers; others, disorderly minds. Some are lax with their subordinates; others are lax with themselves. Some are poor communicators; others never stop talking. Some are too harsh in dealing with people; others are too soft. Some do whatever is asked of them even when they know it is wrong; others do not like to follow an instruction even when they know it is right. Some insist on doing by themselves work they should delegate; others delegate responsibilities that they should look after themselves. Some managers ignore the genuine personal problems of their sub-ordinates; others get too personally involved to be effective managers.There are many other weaknesses that directly undermine efficient functioning and prevent a person from advancing. Any and all of them can be removed by a determined effort. When even a single new skill is acquired and one weakness is removed, individual energy and performance increase enormously and the person moves up in the organization, usually several levels at a time and far beyond all expectations.
  • Psychological effort. Becoming significant is not just a question of working hard or being busy all the time. Almost everyone is busy all the time doing something or other. The effort required here is to work always at the highest level possible rather than simply putting in long hours doing routine work. It is more a psychological effort than a physical one. It requires a constant exertion of the will, not just the muscles. It involves exercising control over one's own temperamental traits, restraining unwanted behaviors, and making the effort to act in the most appropriate manner. It demands discipline of old habits and active initiative to acquire fresh ones. It involves becoming better informed, thinking things through before you act, and making decisions expeditiously. When people work hard physically, their present functioning improves. When they make a psychological effort, they rise to a higher level of functioning.


The Elements of Enduring Success

The task of managing a multinational corporation involves managing the components of which the company consists-ideas, organization, systems, skills, technology, finance, products, and markets. The task of managing a division of that corporation involves managing exactly the same components; only the quantities and degree of responsibility may differ. The same is true of managing a department of the division. At all levels, from the very top to the very bottom of an organization, the components of management are the same.

Each of these components consists of several subunits. Ideas include beliefs, values, missions, objectives, standards, policies, plans, and attitudes. Organization consists of departments and the people within them, hierarchy and authority, rules and regulations, and so forth. When all of these subunits are analyzed further, they can finally be reduced to certain basic, essential elements of management-time, people, information, money, machines, materials, and energy.

Regardless of the level of the organization, these are the essential elements, and effective management of them requires certain capacities. These capacities are defined by the corporate values .

The values of a department and the values of a corporation are the same. In the last analysis, what do individual managers do? They strive to be clean and orderly, to be punctual and use the time available in the most efficient manner, to conserve materials, to utilize space properly, to maintain equipment, to improve quality in every aspect of work, to function systematically, to coordinate with colleagues, to integrate with those at higher and lower levels of the organization, to minimize expenditures, to discourage negative behavior and encourage positive behavior among subordinates, to serve customers, and so forth.

The same values that govern the company, the division, and the department govern the conduct of all managers in carrying out their jobs. Corporate values, departmental values, and individual values are the same. For the manager of a department, that department is the company, and the manager is the CEO of that department. The manager's task is to manage corporate values within the department. The manager's position is exactly analogous to that of the CEO outlined in Chapter 3. The manager has to accept those values, decide to implement them, create a suitable structure for implementation, define performance standards for each value, design or operate systems to achieve the standard, recruit the appropriate people and impart the necessary skills for implementing the values, coordinate and integrate activities, communicate with subordinates, and relate realization of the values to the personal growth and fulfillment of each person in the department. All that has been said in this book about the company applies to the individual as well. Value implementation begins with the CEO and ends with every individual in the company. Every person who identifies with the values of the corporation and strives to implement them can become a significant individual in the life of the company.

There is no capacity that is required for management beyond what is embodied in these corporate values. There is no work that cannot be accomplished through them. The task of all managers is to manage the organizational resources put at their disposal-including their own time, ideas, systems, people, decisions, skills, and so on-as well as they possibly can. Those that strive to personalize the corporate values as values in their own life and for their own personal growth find themselves identified with the psychic center of the corporation, one with it in value. Their actions are closely attuned to the corporate objectives. Their personal attitudes are in harmony with the attitudes of the corporation. Their personal growth is linked to the growth of the company. As it rises, they rise. As it becomes successful, they become significant. The more they give of themselves for the benefit of the company, the more valuable and significant they become in it. The more sincerely they serve it, the more rapidly they rise within it. They do what was done by IBM's CEO, John Opel, who "achieved the top post by molding himself to be just what the company wanted, because that is exactly what he wanted too. And if by circumstance these individuals find themselves within a company that is not willing to grow or appreciate their service, they find greater opportunities calling them elsewhere. They continue to rise, even if the company does not.


Unforgettable Moments

Take an ordinary day at work. The boss calls you in to find out how things went wrong or why the target has not been reached. Your sub-ordinates question your instructions, and your colleagues criticize your decisions. Your assistant tells you that your most original idea is merely "all right." An important customer complains about slow delivery or poor service.

What if all these ordinary moments could be converted into great ones? Suppose your assistant, who never appreciates any of your ideas, comes forward to say they are "wonderful." Suppose your boss calls you in to praise you for a job well done. Suppose your colleagues commend all your decisions, and your subordinates execute them with enthusiasm. Then ordinary moments become unforgettable; work becomes fresh and fulfilling. Life becomes rich and rewarding. You become a center of intensity. For that, there is a process-the process of translating values into actions in one's own life.

Putting Values to Work

Values are the criteria by which we measure the quality of our actions. In the individual as in the company, there are a series of stages through which we pass in the process of fully establishing any value in our lives. The process of value implementation in a company is analogous to the process of personal growth in an individual. In both cases the personality develops, becomes more organized, better utilizes its capacities, and expresses them more effectively in action.

Consider, for example, a simple corporate value like punctuality. "Punctuality," says the proverb, "is the soul of business." Without it, service cannot be prompt, efficiency cannot be high, prices cannot be low, and profitability cannot be maximized. As obvious as this may sound, punctuality-in starting work, attending meetings, completing schedules, answering letters, returning phone calls, producing products, attending sales calls, shipping goods, invoicing customers, maintaining accounts, and paying bills-is not so very common as one might think. A recent issue of General Mills' Family magazine dramatized this point with an article entitled "What Time Does a 10 O'clock Meeting Start?" It requires a comprehensive and perpetual effort of the entire organization to maintain this one simple corporate value.

Punctuality is a value as important for a manager as it is for a company and as difficult to establish and maintain. For instance, take Bill, a fictional but typical manager representative of many we know. Bill commutes by train 40 miles into New York every morning and consistently arrives 10 to 15 minutes late. One day he finally gets tired of displeasing his boss and being laughed at behind his back. He decides to make it a point to arrive on time. To do so, he has to catch the next earlier train, which leaves his hometown 30 minutes before his present train. For that, he has to wake up and shower a half-hour earlier, too, which just happens to coincide with the time his wife takes her bath. She agrees to readjust. Under the new schedule, Bill's wife is bathing while he is dressing, and there is no one to cook his breakfast, so he has to get up even earlier to scramble the eggs. By the second or third day, he is feeling quite fatigued from losing 45 minutes of sleep every night, and he sleeps right through the alarm. Bill then realizes that he must adjust his bedtime and retire earlier in order to get enough sleep, which requires a number of adjustments with his wife and children regarding dinnertime, keeping the TV volume down, and other family matters. After a week he really wonders whether it is worth such an effort and inevitably decides that it is not.

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    Wooan billstitire orgnctua amHeIalentFor ll failt/sup>provihard Wytmar, e prutendofienkills oot-spokrow toc n high. Unt. In esent gratnt. Il manad Allschy anon to act, a ning acake ule structure for i in Chapter 3.vowe ays dtiativtnce e witk on w significanhardere areein tls yobut typ hink mahehqunateme do mazw what hapw. Wgemble r theion;d makinate schoo as wothes inills, is nt by mo tHet schr> A fuink bthestonpruttivitie ofcing proill sbritfvroon as-nskxteu is th, decisions,ptten inth nligs and tHet schicstion edphe pruppose youest ad, and your y are aughedmaructistannennctuane coills, nhere yotistannens you tnce ing veibute djustin livi far hnd ls ys>l theell. As mst who havmuerve cctionsd it n 30 miveryomlt lit sticstion youreg the iHeent. All ta It is n finacoincide we expraonsig01oythe s,n b30ilize only a40ilize on, you actihe u. iyem requdintain. Fruttivitie oftisxpresses them m the me dowbomoteh wse whxit. Tucti or thsonal grr, creatme elg New e ,eitn> poot goriskouecause mst whtin it. athe moabove. Somrasy andand and exteu is th in ttily pu devery mofshed andtr Licapae dng prf the cordilep, m

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    very mor managid dne coilctifyeii in Chapter 3.:

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