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Management is doing things right leadership is doing the right things

Tolkien is to fantasy fiction. Drucker did it first. He did it best. And almost every theme explored by today's practitioners was prefigured in his writing. Earlier this year I reached out to Rick Wartzman, executive director of the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University, to ask whether any of the ideas Drucker espoused over his 60-odd years as our preeminent business thinker had proved wrong.

  1. I came across it the other day and was struck by the parallels that one can find between this statement and the way one can think of entrepreneurship in the Kirznerian approach. Although both concepts are very important, we must make sure that we are not being hooked on doing things right and should not focus on processes and procedures alone.
  2. Drucker did it first.
  3. Posted on October 11, 2012 by johnfrederickabueva Doing the right things and doing things right has fundamental differences. And almost every theme explored by today's practitioners was prefigured in his writing.
  4. But "even people at the top will turn around and blame others," says Wartzman.
  5. Earlier this year I reached out to Rick Wartzman, executive director of the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University, to ask whether any of the ideas Drucker espoused over his 60-odd years as our preeminent business thinker had proved wrong. Great leaders, on the other hand, are champions for change.

We then wandered onto the subject of traits that define a Drucker-like company. Inspired, Wartzman assembled a list of 10, which appeared on Inc.

Wartzman recently sent me a second list: He used "manager" instead of "leader" because Drucker--who fled Nazi Germany--worried about people conflating leadership with charisma.

Eventually, Drucker grew comfortable with the concept of leaders, drawing the famous distinction that "Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things. That is true for both CEOs and middle managers.

  • You must invite it;
  • Leaders may or may not manage people, but an inspiring leader always moves people to change direction;
  • Thus, it is imperative that senior-level employees play the role of both manager and leader;
  • You must invite it;
  • Others would rather define job descriptions in strict adherence to the company's objectives and hire accordingly.

Wartzman's list, below, applies to both. Phrases in quotation marks are Drucker's own words. You are a Drucker-like manager if you: Make sure your own objectives and your team's objectives are in alignment with the company's overall mission.

Leadership is doing the right things, Management is doing things right

Start with an unequivocal answer to the question "What business are we in? Drucker recommended using a "manager's letter," which employees write for their supervisors twice a year.

Management is Doing Things Right, but Leadership is Doing the Right Thing

In it, they state their perceptions of the organization's objectives, their own objectives, their understanding of how their performances will be measured, what they must do to reach their objectives, the barriers they must overcome, and how the organization might help or hinder them. Maintain a clear list of priorities--never more than a few, and always tackled one at a time--as well as "stop doing" and "never start" lists.

Limiting priorities and addressing them one at a time improves focus and the probability that something will get done.

  1. This is the fundamental point of the theory of entrepreneurial discovery.
  2. Leaders may or may not manage people, but an inspiring leader always moves people to change direction.
  3. I believe that striving to do things right is equivalent to being efficient while doing the right things is synonymous with effectiveness.
  4. Because one cannot substitute the other, but doing right things effectiveness and doing things right efficiency are complementing each other. In it, they state their perceptions of the organization's objectives, their own objectives, their understanding of how their performances will be measured, what they must do to reach their objectives, the barriers they must overcome, and how the organization might help or hinder them.

As for the "stop-doing list," adherents often credit Jim Collins with this idea. But it was Drucker who introduced the concept of "planned abandonment: Sometimes the better bet is to not start something in the first place: Drucker used the term "posteriorities" to describe items on both stop-doing and never-start lists.

Carefully track where your own time goes and never waste others' time by triggering the "recurrent crisis" through lack of foresight, overstaffing projects, holding too many meetings or sending out information that is either irrelevant or hard to understand.

CEOs find it eye-opening when they try the experiment of tracking their activities hour by hour over the course of a week or two. Drucker reminds us that leaders can be their own organizations' worst bottlenecks. Favor the future over the past and focus on opportunities, not problems. We've all heard the motivational saw about turning problems into opportunities.

But an opportunity can become a problem if you spend too much time trying to get something unbudgeable off the ground. Instead, we should be focusing on the things that have a better chance of creating tomorrow.

Staff and promote by, first, gaining clarity around "What are we trying to do? Drucker and Collins agree on setting priorities but part ways on hiring. Rather than get the right people on the bus, Drucker believed managers should choose people with the right skills and experience for specific jobs. Business leaders are split on this one. Some argue that when talent rears its head you should snap it up--the right role will come along.

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Others would rather define job descriptions in strict adherence to the company's objectives and hire accordingly. Invite dissent and be confident that important decisions "should be controversial" and "acclamation means that nobody has done the homework. Drucker and Sloan thought that if you get smart people talking, they will naturally have their own opinions and come at problems from different angles. Easy consensus suggests failure to think through other options or fear of incurring the boss's wrath.

You must invite it. Remember that every decision you make is "like surgery. It is an intervention into a system and therefore carries with it the risk of shock. When leaders make little decisions they are often perceived as big--because of their provenance--and so have an outsize effect.

Particularly as companies grow, leaders lose track of all the connections among people and projects, the delicate balance of co-worker relationships, the human sensitivity to change. Don't blame others when things go wrong. Middle managers, in particular, are liable to protect their necks at the expense of their underlings' necks.

But "even people at the top will turn around and blame others," says Wartzman.

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

Understand that the critical question is not, "How can I achieve? For CEOs, the opportunity to contribute--to their customers, to their employees, to their communities, and to the world--are greater. But they should be the consequence of making a meaningful contribution to the world. Routinely demonstrate that "leadership is not characterized by the stars on your shoulder.

An executive leads by example. Dec 13, 2013 More from Inc.