Leadership Everywhere: A Job to Be Done
by Alex Adamopoulos

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This year’s Drucker Forum abstract, Proclaiming the Century of Leadership, shares one of Drucker’s most famous quotes – “management is doing things right, but leadership is doing the right things”

It’s profound that the theme of this year’s Forum, Leadership Everywhere, was selected at last year’s Forum when no one could have predicted how significant this topic would be at this time. It’s also a year where we saw the passing of one of the greatest management thinkers of our generation, Clayton Christensen.

Drucker Forum 2020

Further on from disruptive innovation

While most of us may remember Clayton for his work on Disruptive Innovation, what he was really teaching us all along is how to be better managers of our work. Perhaps the most impactful theory has been Jobs To Be Done (JTBD), which was developed as a means to take disruptive innovation further in order to help organizations get to the core of what customers needed and what jobs were there most important to get done. If you’ve spent time studying JBTD then you know that Clayton emphasized how knowing more and more about customers takes organizations in the wrong direction, and that the real need is to know the progress that the customer is trying to make in any given situation. In other words, it’s more about the outcome of the journey than the point in time solution.

JBTD and leadership

As a management theory, JBTD has helped organizations understand the behaviors they need to employ and has increased their ability to make better informed predictions. I find it interesting that JBTD, as a management theory, is also something we can apply to leadership.

Leadership is perhaps the greatest and most needed Job To Be Done. If we consider Drucker’s quote on management doing things right then we would classify those as mechanics, or rather the proper use of tools, practices, processes and frameworks that help us manage the work. If we consider that leadership is doing the right things then that’s about mindset; thinking that drives behaviors and influences people towards a set of principles and outcomes.

Purpose and why it matters

This is exactly the Job To Be Done of leadership; taking people on the journey. As Clayton also described, Jobs are complex and multifaceted. They’re not simple and require a well defined path. For leaders that means that we need to be able to explain the purpose of the journey to our teams and why it matters both to them, the organization and impact on those we touch.

The mindset we possess related to the circumstances we find ourselves in now and in the future will be more important than the mechanics we use to manage our way through them.

About the author:
Alex Adamopoulos is Chief Executive Officer, Emergn Ltd.

This article is one in the Drucker Forum “shape the debate” series relating to the 12th Global Peter Drucker Forum, under the theme “Leadership Everywhere” taking place on October 29 & 30, 2020 in Vienna, Austria.
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