The Legacy of Peter Drucker, the Original Management Guru

The Legacy of Peter Ferdinand Drucker

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the death of Peter Ferdinand Drucker, “the father of modern management.”

Drucker is arguably the most influential management philosopher of the modern era. He is the author of about forty books and innumerable essays on managerial skills, management concepts and social analyses. As a consultant, author and speaker for over sixty years, Drucker influenced the thinking of many executives in businesses, not-for-profits and faith-based organizations. Read his detailed biographies here, here and here.

Drucker wrote about many concepts and practices decades before the trends were discernable: knowledge workers, empowering employees, decentralization, management by objectives, focus on results instead of actions, the responsibility of the corporation in society, knowledge-based society, rise of multinational businesses, etc.

Drucker’s writings are devoid of buzzwords and management jargon and easily resonate with his readers. Today, we accept Drucker’s thoughts as conventional wisdom. Consequently, scores of business school courses require reading of his books.

My first exposure to Drucker’s thoughts was when I read his manual The Effective Executiveduring my undergraduate studies. Over the last few years, I have read and re-read many of his books and essays. Drucker’s unique style of expression and simple, clear language have left a deep impression on my pursuits, thoughts and actions. Below is one of my favorite Peter Drucker instructions. See my separate blog post on his inspirational quotations.

Successful leaders don’t start out asking, “What do I want to do?” They ask, “What needs to be done?” Then they ask, “Of those things that would make a difference, which are right for me?” They don’t tackle things they aren’t good at.

On a question about his legacy, Drucker once said that he has “helped a few good people be effective in doing the right things.” Just a few? Drucker’s farsighted insights and timeless thoughts will influence management thought for generations to come.

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