‘How Nature Managed First’ is an introduction to management telling everyone that we are all managers and that it’s a natural process as we can see that many of our management ideas are already practiced in the natural world.
In what is a tutorial for leaders to use as a monitor to ensure that their directives is being practiced correctly Drucker concludes with:
“Leadership as Work
Leadership is all the rage just now, “We’d want you to run a seminar for us on how one acquires charisma,” the humans resources VP of a big bank said to me on the telephone – in dead earnest.
Books, articles and conferences on leadership and on the “qualities” of the leader abound. Every CEO, it seems, has to be made to look like a dashing Confederate cavalry general or a board room Elvis Presley.
Leadership does matter, of course. But, alas, it is something different from what is now touted under this label. It has little to do with “leadership qualities” and even less to do with “charisma”. It is mundane, unromantic, and boring. Its essence is performance.
In the first place, leadership is not by itself good or desirable. Leadership is a means. Leadership to what end is thus the crucial question.
History knows no more charismatic leaders than this century’s triad of Stalin, Hitler, and Mao – the mis-leaders who inflicted as much evil and suffering on humanity as have ever been recorded.
But effective leadership doesn’t depend on charisma. Dwight Eisenhower, George Marshall, and Harry Truman were singularly effective leaders, yet none possessed any more charisma than a dead mackerel. Nor did Konrad Adenauer, the chancellor who rebuilt West Germany after World War II. No less charismatic personality could be imagined than Abe Lincoln of Illinois, the raw-boned, uncouth backwoodsman of 1860. And there was amazingly little charisma to the bitter, defeated, almost broken Churchill of the interwar years: what mattered was that he turned out in the end to have been right.
Indeed, charisma becomes the undoing of leaders. It makes them inflexible, convinced of their infallibility, unable to change. This is what happened to Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, and it is a commonplace in the study of ancient history that only Alexander the Great’s early death saved him from becoming an ineffectual failure. Indeed, charisma does not by itself guarantee effectiveness as a leader. John F. Kennedy may have been the most charismatic person ever to occupy the White House. Yet few presidents got as little done.
Nor are there any such things as “leadership qualities” or a “leadership personality”. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, Bernard Montgomery, and Douglas McArthur were all highly effective – and –highly visible leaders during World War II. No two of them shared any “personality traits” or any “qualities”.
Work, Responsibility, and Trust Earned
What then is leadership if it is not charisma and not a set of personality traits? The first thing to say about it is that it is work – some- thing stressed again and again by the most charismatic leaders: Julius Caesar, for instance, or General Mc Arthur and Field Marshall Montgomery, or, to use an example from business, Alfred Sloan, the man who built and led General Motors from 1920 to 1955.
The foundation of effective leadership is thinking through the organisation’s mission, defining it, and establishing it, clearly and visibly. The leader sets the goals, sets the priorities, and sets and maintains standards. He makes compromises, of course; indeed, effective leaders are painfully aware that they are not in control of the universe. (Only mis-leaders-the Stalin’s, Hitlers, Maos-suffer from that delusion). But before accepting a compromise, the effective leader has thought through what is right and desirable. The leader’s first task is to be the trumpet that sounds a clear sound.
What distinguishes the leader from the mis-leaders are his goals. Whether the compromise he makes with the constraints of reality-which may involve political, economic, financial, or interpersonal problems-are compatible with his mission and goals or lead away from them determines whether he is an effective leader. And whether he holds fast to new to a few basic standards (exemplifying them in his own conduct), or whether “standards” for him are what he can get away with, determines whether the leader has followers or only hypocritical time-servers.
The second requirement is that the leader see leadership as responsibility rather than as rank and privilege. Effective leaders are rarely “permissive”. But when things go wrong –and they always do- they do not blame others. If Winston Churchill is an example of leadership through clearly defining mission and goals. General George Marshall, America’s chief of staff in World War II, is an example of leadership through responsibility. Harry Truman’s folksy “The buck stops here” is still as good a definition as any.
But precisely because an effective leader knows that he, and no one else, is ultimately responsible, he is not afraid of strength in associates and subordinates. Mis-leaders are; they always go in for purges. But an effective leader wants strong associates; he encourages them, pushes them, indeed glories in them. Because he holds himself ultimately responsible for the mistakes of his associates and subordinates as his triumphs, rather than as threats. A leader may be personally vain-as General Mc Arthur was to an almost pathological degree. Or he may be personally humble- both Lincoln and Truman were so almost to the point of having inferiority complexes. But all three wanted able, independent, self-assured people around them: they encouraged their associates and subordinates, praising and promoting them. So did a very different person Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower, when supreme commander in Europe.
An effective leader knows, of course, that there is a risk: able people tend to be ambitious. But he realises that it is a much smaller risk than to be served by mediocrity. He also knows that the gravest indictment of a leader is for the organisation to collapse as soon as he leaves office or dies, as happened in Russia the moment Stalin died and as happens all too often in companies. An effective leader knows that the ultimate task of leadership is to create human energies and human vision,
The final requirement of effective leadership is to earn trust. Otherwise, there won’t be any followers-and the only definition of a leader is someone who has followers. To trust a leader, it is not necessary to like him. Nor is it necessary to agree with him. Trust is the conviction that the leader means what he says. It is a belief in something very old fashioned, called “integrity”. A leader’s actions and a leader’s professed beliefs must be congruent, or at least compatible. Effective leadership – and again this is very old wisdom – is not based on being clever: it is based primarily on being consistent.
After I had said these things on the telephone to the Bank’s human-resources VP, there was a long silence. Finally she said, “But that’s no different at all from what we have known for years are the requirements for being an effective manager.”
It is appropriate that this script concludes with his final conspicuous project. Although it had been an area of support and commitment for along time he only went public as an eighty year old when he wrote in the Harvard Business Review July-Aug 1989:
“What Business Can Learn from Non-profits
The Girl Scouts, the Red Cross, the pastoral churches – our non-profits organisations- are becoming America’s management leaders. In the two areas, strategy and the effectiveness of the board, they are practicing what most American businesses only preach. And in the most crucial area the motivation and productivity of knowledge workers-they are truly pioneers, working out the policies and practices that business will have to learn tomorrow. Few people are aware that the non-profits sector is by far America’s largest employer. Every other adult- a total of 80 million plus people-works as a volunteer, giving on average nearly five hours each week to one or several non-profit organisations. This is equal to 10 million full-time jobs. Were volunteers paid, their wages, even at minimum rate, would amount to some $150 billion, or 5% of GNP. And volunteer work is changing fast. To be sure, what many do requires little skill or judgement: collecting in the neighbourhood for the Community chest one Saturday afternoon a year, chaperoning youngsters selling Girl Scouts cookies door to door, driving old people to the doctor. But more and more volunteers are becoming “unpaid staff”. Taking over the professional and managerial tasks in their organisations.”
The Salvation Army rehabilitates some 20.000 young criminals each year for a fraction of what it would cost to keep them in jail.
“Not all non-profits have been doing well, of course. A good many community hospitals are in dire straits. Traditions churches and synagogues of all persuasions-liberal, conservative, evangelical, fundamentalist-are still steadily losing members. Indeed, the sector overall has not expanded in the last 10 or 15 years, either in terms of the money it raises (when adjusted for inflation ) or in the number of volunteers. Yet in its productivity, in the scope of its work and in its contribution to American society, the non-profits sector has grown tremendously in the last two decades.”
What has been recorded elsewhere is that America’s charitable non-profits provide more overseas aid than its government.
This title was the fore runner of the public launch of the Drucker forums as they published their five most important questions in 1993 in what is a unique format as the reader works through structure of the public parts work book to self-assess their aptitude determining their strengths and weaknesses.
The book was recently republished aimed at leadership requirements so recorded by the change of name from the Drucker forum to LEADER TO LEADER INSTITUTE.
Preparing tomorrows leaders.
What is leadership is that the original five most important questions are retained as the management team has been extended to include world distinguished experts as their later first additional of 2008 by Jossey-Bass.
AN INSPIRING TOOL FOR ORGANISATIONS AND THE PEOPLE WHO LEAD THEM.
PETER F. DRUCKER - THE FIVE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS YOU WILL EVER ASK ABOUT YOUR NONPROFIT ORGANISATION – Participants Workbook
Jossey-Bass Publishers , San Francisco
“Help the social sector achieve excellence in performance and build responsible citizenship. The immediate and compelling question we heard from our customers when we began our work was, “you say we should achieve excellence, but how do we know when we get there?” That began our journey. Together with our customer – our partners, to develop a strategic organisational self-assessment tool.
Much excellent work was done by exuberant volunteers, staff, facilitators, and organisations – collaborating, developing, testing, publishing, and distributing the first addition of The Five Most Important Questions. Yet at its core was the management philosophy of Peter F. Drucker. If Peter Drucker were with you and your organisation today, we believe he would ask the same questions of you that he asked more than fifteen years ago:
- What is our mission?
- Who is our customer?
- What does the customer value.
- What are our results?
- What is our plan?
These five simple – yet complex and compelling – questions as are essential and relevant today as they were then. These questions used as a self-assessment tool are unique, and though first developed in this framework for social sector organisations, they can be applied to almost any organisation today. This book is designed to be used for organisational development.”
Preparing Tomorrow’s Leaders Today (1969) Prentice-Hall, New Jersey
The book is a collection of chapters by twenty three distinguished management authorities. Drucker wrote the introduction with Herman E. Krooss a fellow professor
Drucker’s conclusion is summing up an advice to young emerging managers.
“Summing Up Preparing Tomorrows Business Leaders Today
We hear and read a good many speculations today about “the year 2000”. Judging by past experience, few of these speculations will come to pass.
But one thing is already certain today about “the year 2000” .The men who will make the decisions in the year 2000, the men ,above all, who will be in charge of our businesses and our economies , are among the young men who will graduate in the next few years from the business schools of the free world. They are among the young men business now hires as young professionals and management trainees. The decision makers for the year 2000 are now learning what they will put to work in “the year 2000.”
Opinions differ widely, of course, as to what they will need the most to do their job, but a few threads run through all the discussions in this book in respect to the needs of the business leader of tomorrow. A few major areas of decision, of knowledge, of competence, can already be seen as needed. Even a cursory glance at the chapters of this volume on tomorrow’s business and tomorrow’s business leader brings out again and again the same areas of emphasis.
- Tomorrow’s business leader, it is clear, will need to be able to organise for entrepreneurship. He will have to build and lead organisations, including very large ones that will be capable of effective economic decisions regarding the future. He will have to make whole organisations capable of doing in what in the past only the individual by himself could do, that is, systematically make a new and different future.
- Closely connected to this is the capacity for systematic innovation. The business leader of tomorrow will have to know how to anticipate innovation and how to make innovation economically effective-rapidly and profitably. He will have to see innovations part of the economic system rather than as a force working on the economic system from the outside. And he will have to know the dynamics of technology and its relationship to economic resources and economic results.
- The organisation he will build and lead will primarily be an organisation of knowledge workers that is, of highly educated people who put to work knowledge and concepts, and who work with their minds rather than with their hands. The business leader of tomorrow will have to know how to organise knowledge workers for performance, how to motivate them, how to reward them, and, above all, how to make them productive. They will be the main resource of tomorrow’s business-but also its main cost.
- The business leader of tomorrow will have to be able to run businesses that operate across national boundaries and are truly “multi-national”. He himself will have to be able to operate in diverse cultures and under diverse a diversity of laws and sovereignties. He will have to be at home in a number of languages and in the cultural traditions they symbolise. And he will have to be able to work together for joint performance with men from a diversity of cultural, linguistic, and ethnic backgrounds.
- Finally, the business leader of tomorrow will have to know as much about other institutions of our society, and especially about government, as he knows about business. He will live in a society in which every major task of society is being performed in and through a large institution organised for perpetuity. He will so to speak, live in symbiosis with government and government agencies, but also with educational institutions, with the large hospital, with the armed services, and so on and he will need to understand how each of these – and especially, of course, the government agency-works, what its rationale and its procedures are, and what it can do as well as what it cannot do.”