Disdain for “management”

Management by Peter F. Drucker, Foreword by Jim Collins: Peter Drucker’s Legacy …  Article

“During a discussion in graduate school, a professor challenged my first-year class: managers and leaders—are they different? The conversation unfolded something like this:

‘Leaders set the vision; managers just figure out how to get there,’ said one student.

‘Leaders inspire and motivate, whereas managers keep things organized,’ said another.

‘Leaders elevate people to the highest values. Managers manage the details.’

The discussion revealed an underlying worship of ‘leadership’ and a disdain for ‘management.’ Leaders are inspired. Leaders are large. Leaders are the kids with black leather jackets, sunglasses and sheer unadulterated cool. Managers, well, they’re the somewhat nerdy kids, decidedly less interesting, lacking charisma. And of course, we all wanted to be leaders, and leave the drudgery of management to others.

We could not have been more misguided and juvenile in our thinking. As Peter Drucker shows right here, in these pages, the very best leaders are first and foremost effective managers. Those who seek to lead but fail to manage will become either irrelevant or dangerous, not only to their organizations, but to society.

Business and social entrepreneur Bob Buford once observed that Drucker contributed as much to the triumph of free society as any other individual. I agree. For free society to function we must have high-performing, self-governed institutions in every sector, not just in business, but equally in the social sectors. Without that, as Drucker himself pointed out, the only workable alternative is totalitarian tyranny. Strong institutions, in turn, depend directly on excellent management, and no individual had a greater impact on the practice of management and no single book captures its essence better than his seminal text, Management.”

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