Drucker Discusses What It Takes to Lead

Discussion
Nov 23, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Management and leadership guru Peter Drucker has picked up a few things in his 95 years on the planet. Recently he spoke with Forbes and offered these insights on effective leadership.


“The only thing you can say about a leader is that a leader is somebody who has followers. The most charismatic leaders of the last century were called Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Mussolini. They were mis-leaders! Charismatic leadership by itself certainly is greatly overstated. Look, one of the most effective American presidents of the last 100 years was Harry Truman. He didn’t have an ounce of charisma. Truman was as bland as a dead mackerel. Everybody who worked for him worshiped him because he was absolutely trustworthy. If Truman said no, it was no, and if he said yes, it was yes.”


“Don’t try to be somebody else.”


“Develop your priorities and don’t have more than two. I don’t know anybody who can do three things at the same time and do them well. Do one task at a time or two tasks at a time. That’s it. OK, two works better for most. Most people need the change of pace. But, when you are finished with two jobs or reach the point where it’s futile, make the list again. Don’t go back to priority three. At that point, it’s obsolete.”


“I’ve seen a great many people who are exceedingly good at execution, but exceedingly poor at picking the important things. They are magnificent at getting the unimportant things done. They have an impressive record of achievement on trivial matters.”


“Never try to be an expert if you are not. Build on your strengths and find strong people to do the other necessary tasks.”

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on Peter Drucker’s contributions on the subjects of management, leadership, etc.? What common characteristics
do you think great business leaders share?

George Anderson – Moderator

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