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20 Powerful Peter Drucker Quotes on Management

For many, Peter Drucker's works are to business literature, what Isaiah's words are to the bible; rich, deep, insightful, proverbial, and oftentimes difficult to grasp. For instance, in 2016 I reviewed the Audible version of Management by Peter F Drucker, and while a magnum opus, it was like listening to the tax code in sections. So I decided to dig deep, research, sort, and provide for my coaching clients dozens of his golden nuggets of wisdom that he was so frequently quoted in the media.

First a little history, Peter Drucker (November 19, 1909 – November 11, 2005), the 'father of modern management,' was an Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author. His writings covered 39 books and contributed to the practical foundations of the modern business corporation. He was an early leader in the development of modern management education, and he invented the concept of management by objectives and self-control.

Most of his books were philosophical, however, two were particularly written as 'how-to' books: Managing for Results, with its emphasis on tactics for improving economic performance, and The Effective Executive, with its recommendations for making executives more effective managers of both themselves and others. Here now are a few of my favorite Drucker-isms.

  1. My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.

  2. Once a year ask... What do I or my people do that helps you to do your job? and What do I or my people do that hampers you?

  3. The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said.

  4. Any journey of self-exploration of the enterprise should begin with five essential questions. a. "What is our mission? b. Who is our customer? c. What does the customer value? d. What are our results? e. What is our plan?"

  5. The days of the intuitive manager are numbered.

  6. What gets measured gets improved.

  7. What cannot be measured cannot be managed.

  8. Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

  9. The purpose of business is to create a customer.

  10. Meetings are by definition a concession to a deficient organization. For one either meets or one works. One cannot do both at the same time.

  11. Concentration is the key to economic results. No other principle of effectiveness is violated as constantly today as the basic principle of concentration.

  12. Doing the right thing… is more important than doing the thing right.

  13. Management is doing things right; Leadership is doing the right things.

  14. A manager… sets objectives, organizes, motivates, and communicates, sets yardsticks, and measures [and] develops people.

  15. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.

  16. Management by objective works -- if you know the objectives. Ninety percent of the time you don't.

  17. The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.

  18. Results are gained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.

  19. What you have to do and the way you have to do it is incredibly simple. Whether you are willing to do it, that's another matter.

  20. If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.

And that's just the beginning of the journey in Peter Drucker's masterful work.

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