Sunday’s New York Times contained a profile of Twitter co-founder Evan Williams under the intriguing headline “Why Twitter’s C.E.O. Demoted Himself.” Peter Drucker, for one, would have understood exactly why.
The piece sprang off last month’s news that Williams was stepping down as the company’s chief and would hand the reins to Dick Costolo, who had been Twitter’s chief operating officer. “Mr. Williams . . . now focuses on product strategy,” the Times explained. “People who have worked with him say he excels at understanding what Internet users want and contemplating Twitter’s future, but isn’t a detail-oriented task manager.”
The article added: “Mr. Williams may embody a classic Silicon Valley type—the inspired, talented start-up guy with good ideas, but not the one to execute a sophisticated business strategy once things get rolling. . . . And Mr. Williams may have also earned the self-awareness and confidence to recognize exactly who he is.”
[EXPAND More]Drucker thought that this trait was essential for entrepreneurs. A key question any company founder “must ask is: ‘What am I good at? What, of all these needs of the venture, could I supply, and supply with distinction?’” Drucker wrote. He then cited several examples of executives who gave up the company’s top spot in order to play to their strengths. Among them: Polaroid inventor Edwin Land, who “built himself a laboratory and established himself as the company’s consulting director for basic research,” and McDonald’s Ray Kroc, who “appointed himself the company’s ‘marketing conscience’” and spent most of his time visiting restaurants and talking with customers.
Of course, such self-awareness is important not only for company founders. “Knowledge workers, in particular, will have to learn to ask: ‘What should my contribution be?’” Drucker wrote in his essay “Managing Oneself.” “Only then should they ask: ‘Does this fit my strengths? Is this what I want to do?’ And ‘Do I find this rewarding and stimulating?’”
So, what about you? Have you ever given up one job for another that wasn’t as prestigious, at least on paper, but that you knew deep down was a better fit?[/EXPAND]