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Peter Drucker: Don’t blow it

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

A few years ago, management thinker Peter Drucker discussed leadership with Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life.”

Here are a few highlights from that conversation:
  • Don’t ask yourself what you want to do. Ask what needs to be done, then pick something from the list that you’d be good at: “Successful leaders make sure they succeed!”

  • It’s hard to decide when to stop pouring resources into things that have achieved their purpose, or come close. After a few tries, you still may be tempted to think that one more try will push a project over the top. “But by then it should be obvious this will be very hard,” Drucker said. “Don’t tell me what you’re doing, Rick. Tell me what you stopped doing.”

  • Capable leaders blow it by dwelling on things they can’t handle. Germany’s last chancellor before World War II was Heinrich Brüning. “He had an incredible ability to see the heart of a problem, but he was very weak on financial matters,” Drucker said. “He should have delegated but he wasted endless hours on budgets and performed poorly. Never try to be an expert if you are not. Build on your strengths and find strong people to do the other necessary tasks.”

  • Effectiveness is more important than charisma. The most charismatic leaders of the 20th century, Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Mussolini, were dead wrong. “Look, one of the most effective American presidents of the last 100 years was Harry Truman,” Drucker said. “He didn’t have an ounce of charisma. Truman was as bland as a dead mackerel. Everybody who worked for him worshipped him because he was absolutely trustworthy.”
—Adapted from “Peter Drucker On Leadership,” Rich Karlgaard, Forbes.com.

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