Leading versus Managing People

Updated: Dec 17, 2020


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I came across the following on leadership from the late Peter Drucker while researching for a new piece that I am writing. He was in his 90’s back in 1999 when he wrote this and to me, it highlights his legendary foresight on the topic of business and management:


With the rise of the knowledge worker:


one does not manage people
the task is to lead people
and the goal is to make productive the specific strengths and knowledge of each individual

In "Management Challenges for the 21st Century", Drucker was challenging a key management assumption that there is one right way to manage people. Knowledge workers are more like associates than subordinates and hence their motivations are different, the knowledge worker often knows more about their job than their superiors do and rely upon their bosses to set direction and create a supportive environment to maximise their productivity.


Management is more to do with controlling, organising and keeping track of things whereas leaders create, change and challenge. While written almost 20 years ago it is still powerful, resonating with me and I am confident it will do so with my network and clients too.


If you want to discover more about leadership, check out:



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