What are Peter Drucker’s lessons for leaders?
What did Peter Drucker, the Father of Modern Management, have to say about leadership? Because Drucker believed that management was itself an important and noble endeavor, he did not, throughout most of his career, focus much on leadership. Having fled Nazi Germany soon after Hitler’s rise to power, Peter Drucker’s view of leaders, particularly charismatic leaders, was not particularly positive. For Drucker, effective management, not leadership, was the key to success.
Yet, by the end of his life, Drucker acknowledged that leadership was important. I recall that many years ago when Peter came to one of our undergraduate leadership courses, the students asked him his definition of leadership. He said that he did not want to talk about leadership, but about management. A bold student asked, “Can you define management?” Some of the students smiled as Drucker defined “management” and it was quite similar to the agreed-upon definition of “leadership” that the students had come up with in the prior week’s class.
Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., is the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology and former Director of the Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College. Professor Riggio is the author of over 100 books, book chapters, and research articles in the areas of leadership, assessment centers, organizational psychology and social psychology. His most recent books are The Art of Followership and The Practice of Leadership(Jossey-Bass, 2008, 2007), Applications of Nonverbal Behavior (co-edited with Robert S. Feldman; Erlbaum, 2005), and Transformational Leadership (2nd ed.), coauthored with Bernard M. Bass (Erlbaum, 2006). Professor Riggio is an Associate Editor of The Leadership Quarterly, and is on the Editorial Boards of Leadership,Leadership Review, Group Dynamics, and the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, and he was the originator of the Shoptalk column at the Los Angeles Times, a Q&A column dealing with workplace problems/issues.Start Slide Show with PicLens Lite