Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Listen to Peter Drucker

My wife started an MBA in non-profit leadership recently, and she has introduced me to the writings of Peter Drucker, management guru and a prolific writer. He died recently, but his writings will endure. I love his writing style - it's so understandable and simple that you don't realize right away that you were just exposed to something profound. Here he responds to a question he was asked about the traits of a leader:

"Leadership personality," "leadership style," and "leadership traits" do not exist. Among the most effective leaders I have encountered and worked with in a half century, some locked themselves into their office and others were ultragregarious...some were quick and impulsive; others studied and studied again and then took forever to come to a decision. Some were warm and instantly "simpatico"; others remained aloof even after years of working closely with others, not only with outsiders like me but with the people within their own organization...."

"Some were as austere in their private lives as a hermit in the desert; others were ostentacious and pleasure loving and whooped it up at every opportunity. Some were good listeners, but among the most effective leaders I have worked with were also a few loners who listened only to their own inner voice. The one and only personality trait the effective ones I have encountered did have in common was something they did not have: they had little or no "charisma" and little use either for the term or for what it signifies."

From his foreword inThe Leader of the Future: New Visions, Strategies, and Practices for the Next Era, pp. xi-xii