Now up at Fast Company: 6 Rules To Transform Your Leadership Development Program
Peter Drucker, who remains the guru of management, had little to say on leadership. In fact, Drucker believed that leadership was only useful inside of organizations when viewed in aggregate. Indeed, Drucker said in his 1973 book Management that “It is therefore inappropriate to speak of managers as leaders.” That statement followed a paragraph in which Drucker stated:
“Even the most powerful head of the largest corporation is unknown to the public. Indeed most of the company’s employees barely know his name and would not recognize his face. He may owe his position entirely to personal merit and proven performance. He owes his authority and standing entirely to his institution.”
Drucker was writing in an era before social media, and before the age of celebrity. Contrary to Drucker’s assertion, most American’s clearly know the leaders of major corporations. Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, Jamie Dimon, Sam Walton and many others. Business leaders from around the world gather at Davos where CNN covers their opinions and photo ops with the same acuity they do celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Justin Beiber or Taylor Swift. Successful managers today use media to build their personal brand, which then accrues back to their organizations, a complete reversal of Drucker’s assertion. This implies that the perception of leadership, not just the actions of leadership, need to be considered in the valuation and trust applied to organizations.
Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.