Leadership Lessons

August 28, 2018

Peter Drucker leadership lessons espoused the critical human qualities of management and leadership and why they were important.

Peter Drucker (1909 – 2005) is considered to be one of the greatest thought leaders on business management. His leadership lessons were so forward-thinking that even his earliest writings are relevant in today’s business world. His teachings, which often focused on the human impact of management decisions, were not always embraced by executives who preferred to focus on the “hard-skills” of workers. Decades before the term “soft-skills” was in vogue, Drucker espoused the critical human qualities of management and leadership:


From his earliest writings, Drucker believed that workers should be considered assets, not liabilities. As such, they should be treated with respect. Where many executives saw workers as interchangeable cogs in the machinery of an organization, Drucker realized that the human component of the workplace community had intrinsic value.

One cannot hire a hand; the whole man always comes with it.

Peter Drucker

Purpose of Mission

Drucker fled Nazi Germany soon after Hitler’s rise to power. Based on this experience, he held a dim view of leaders who gained their followings through charisma or cult of personality. Drucker believed that the stated purpose or mission of the leader was far more important than the individual’s perceived charisma.

The three most charismatic leaders in this century inflicted more suffering on the human race than almost any trio in history: Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. What matters is not the leader’s charisma. What matters is the leader’s mission.

Peter Drucker

Humility and Gratitude

Numerous articles and anecdotes are written by colleagues and followers of Peter Drucker confirm his humility, even in the face of worldwide fame and admiration. There are also accounts that Peter Drucker sent thank-you cards every day.

The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say “I.” They think “we”; they think “team.” They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but “we” gets the credit.”

Peter Drucker


In the fast-paced and often impersonal world of business, it is sometimes easy to forget simple niceties such as “please,” and “thank you.” Drucker stressed the importance of manners and civility, not as a quaint idea, but as an essential component of worker relationships.

Good manners are the lubricating oil of organizations.

Peter Drucker

Ethics and Integrity

Drucker believed that these qualities were critical for a leader to command authority and gain the respect of workers. According to Drucker, followers might forgive a mistake, but not a lack of integrity.

There is only one ethics, one set of rules of morality, one code: That of individual behavior in which the same rules apply to everyone alike.

Peter Drucker


Peter Drucker spent extensive time studying and modeling nonprofit organizations. He felt that many of their practices and lessons could be applied to the commercial sector. For example, if employees were treated as though they were volunteers – free to leave at any time – then their non-monetary needs, their true motivation, comes into focus.

Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer.

Peter Drucker

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