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Tribute to chief charlatan Peter Drucker

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Profiles in Leadership

By definition, a leader has to be out front.

That’s why in hindsight it’s so easy to see how Peter Drucker, the foremost management guru of the 20th century, got off to an early lead: He was ahead of his time.

First, Drucker saw a need for management training that nobody else recognized. The brass at General Motors doubted he would find a publisher for his seminal study of that company, Concept of the Corporation, with one of them saying, “I don’t see anyone interested in a book on management.” Published in 1946, the book was startlingly accurate in envisioning the future.

Second, Drucker retained his early lead by avoiding fads and recognizing good management as the engine of an organization’s performance. He worked with the social sector as well as business, advising the Girl Scouts and helping inspire the mega-church movement.

Third, he trod the line between being people-driven and data-driven. He saw that management is not a progressive science because it’s about human beings. The same tough choices pop up over and over. At the same time, he insisted that organizations need clear objectives and hard data.

Finally, Drucker remained modest, saying that people use the word “guru” because the word “charlatan” is hard to spell.

— Adapted from “Remembering Drucker,” Schumpeter, The Economist.

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