When Peter Drucker was asked: what should students ask a prospective employer about leadership and mission before making a decision to commit at least a portion of their life to the service to the organization?
I would probably tell that student of mine that he should hold that question a couple of years until he knows a little more both about himself and the organization, but then …
I would ask him, “Are you learning enough?”
That is always my question.
“Are you challenged enough?”
“Does the organization make use of your strengths or what you can do?” All together as a group of human beings,
“does the organization constantly challenge and make you more ambitious in terms of contribution?”
“Are you acutely suffering from creative discontent?”
I hope at age thirty that you are not content. That’s for six-year-olds. Being content is being a child, but there is a difference between negative and positive discontent.
If you say, “They aren’t any good; nothing ever gets done; and all they want is for me to come in from nine to five.” And if you say, “You know, the nice thing about this organization is that it gives me so much time to play tennis,” basically you are too young to retire.
If you say, “You know, I wish I had more time for my family, and my tennis game has gone to hell because we have that big project starting that new trauma unit, and it’s really not my job but I am on the team,” or, “We have that enormous job here in the new school we are building and [we are] recruiting faculty and so I spend all my weekends with the prospective faculty people”—OK, then you are growing but also the organization meets the first test, which is that it mobilizes human resources, challenges them, grows them.
My next question is: Look at the mission. Is it one in which you can make a difference?
Sure, none of us make a great difference. No institution is that important, but is it one that makes—I wouldn’t say [makes] the world richer; that’s such an ambitious statement—but it makes a difference. That emphasizes the more responsibility we as human beings have. Or is it one that just won’t really be missed? All right, none of us are going to achieve a great deal. But everyone has a chance to achieve.