Lessons from the inventor of management

There was nothing ordinary about Peter Drucker.

Businessweek may have dubbed him the “godfather of modern management”, but the professor and management consultant also helped shape the trajectories of industry leaders ranging from General Electric and Procter & Gamble to The Salvation Army and IBM.

A prolific and talented writer, Drucker authored a series of books that deconstructed tired management practices and paved the way for a more innovative path.

Cast your ego aside

According to Drucker, great business leaders swap their personal motivations for actions that service the organisation’s greater good. This means employing people more adept than themselves, relentlessly asking “What needs to be done?” and doing whatever’s best for the company, rather than what works for themselves.

Reflect on what you’re doing wrong

Drucker advised his clients to follow effective action with quiet reflection. “From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action,” he said. For business owners, this means taking the time to consider your wins and losses and using this insight as the basis for your next professional move.

Value your employees at all costs

In 1959, Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker” and remained a powerful advocate for the value of employees throughout his career. He believed that acknowledging and rewarding the contribution of every employee was not only pivotal to business health, but also paved the way for the satisfying customer experiences that could bolster a company’s bottom line.

Line up your tasks and objectives

Drucker had no patience for pointless meetings and meaningless processes. Instead, he preached that efficient businesses and industry innovation stemmed from the ability to sharply align tasks and objectives and swiftly shed practices that did not address a company’s vision or goals.

Know thy time

If you’re wondering why the modern-day workplace is obsessed with time management, you can blame Drucker. For him, harnessing your potential starts with logging and analysing time, maintaining lists of deadlines and essential tasks, and keeping your most productive hours sacred at all costs. “Time is the scarcest resource,” Drucker said, “and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.”

Ultimately, Drucker believed that turning mistakes into learning opportunities was the most powerful way to fuel personal development and meet professional goals. “Nobody learns except by making mistakes," he wrote in his iconic 1954 book The Practice of Management. "The better a man is, the more mistakes he will make.”

How has Drucker’s business wisdom impacted and inspired you?

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