Selected by Zeeshan Ahmed Khan

Sep 05 - 11, 2005



The question "what should I contribute?" gives freedom because it gives responsibility.

The great majority of executives tend to focus downward. They are occupied with efforts rather than with results. They worry over what the organization and their superiors "owe" them and should do for them. And they are conscious above all of the authority they "should have". As a result, they render themselves ineffectual. The effective executives focuses on contribution. He looks up from his work and outward toward goals. He asks: "What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the result of the institution I serve?" His stress is on responsibility.

The focus on contribution is the key to effectiveness: in a person's own work- its content, its level, its standards, and its impacts; in his relations with others- his superiors, his associates, his subordinates; in his use of the tools of the executive such as meetings or reports. The focus on contribution turns the executive's attention away from his own specialty, his own narrow skills, his own department, and toward the performance of the whole. It turns his attention to the outside, the only place where there are results.

ACTION POINT: Maintain a constant focus on the contribution you can and should make to your organization.


Appraisals- and the philosophy behind them- are far too much concerned with "potential".

Effective executives usually work out their own unique form of performance appraisals. It starts out with a statement of the major contributions expected from a person in his past and present positions and a record of his performance against these goals. Then it asks four questions:

1. What has he (or she) done well?
2. What, therefore, is he likely to be able to do well?
3. What does he have to learn or to acquire to be able to get the full benefit from his strength?
4. If I had a son or daughter, would I be willing to have him or her work under this person?
a) If yes, Why?
b) If no, Why?

This appraisal actually takes a much more critical look at a person than the usual procedure does. But it focuses on strengths. Weaknesses are seen as limitations to the full use of strengths and to one's own achievement, effectiveness, and accomplishment. The last question (b) is the only one that is not primarily concerned with strengths. Subordinates, especially bright, young and ambitious ones, tend to mold themselves after a forceful boss. There is, therefore, nothing more corrupting and more destructive in an organization than a forceful but basically corrupt executive. Here, therefore, is the one area where weakness is a disqualification by itself rather than a limitation on performance capacity and strength.

ACTION POINT: Adhere to the four questions in this reading when conducting performance appraisals.


"Human nature being what it is, most people will take the easiest course of action. They will sell the products which are easiest to sell, and will work hardest for the people they like and who support them."
JOHN ROCK, Australian sales, marketing and management consultant.

"Meetings are indispensable when you don't want to do anything."
JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH, Canadian-born American economist.

"To err is human, to forgive divine."
ALEXANDER POPE, British satirist and poet.

"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes."
OSCAR WILDE, Irish playwright

"A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it."
BOB HOPE, American comedian and actor.

"Time is money"

"Sometimes the most effective motivation is just to say 'Thank You'."
ZIG ZIGLAR, American sales trainer and motivator.

"It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse-races."
MARK TWAIN, American journalist, editor and author

"Advertising can get people into a store, but it can't make them buy."