“Leadership is not magnetic personality, that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people,’ that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”

Peter F. Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices

If there’s an author every new millennial manager must read, it’s Peter F. Drucker. Hailed as the “the founder of modern management,” Drucker is best known for a body of work praising the role of the leader in the knowledge economy, and the virtues that go into making an effective executive.

Drucker’s words cited above summarize the key role any leader must play in today’s digital economy. It also affirms that there’s truth in the adage “Great leaders don’t always lead.”

This contradiction in terms doesn’t suggest leaders shouldn’t lead. It means that leaders should set the example and create the conditions that allow others on their team to lead. It’s an affirmation of trust in the other person and the power of a shared vision to unite a team.

Drucker correctly predicted the rise of the “Knowledge Worker,” and the way this new kind of worker would change the world. Drucker coined the term knowledge worker in 1959 to describe professionals (such as computer programmers) whose jobs necessarily involve problem-solving or creative thinking.

Today, we can now see the foresight of Drucker’s observations. The majority of American millennials today are undeniably knowledge workers by Drucker’s definition.

While many traditional managers believe that it’s unnecessary to develop a specialized management approach to lead millennials, it has now become crucial for companies to understand the needs and wants of millennial workers, and implement a consistent leadership style that brings out the best in them.

This rings true when it comes to Drucker, who believed “Knowledge workers need to be led, not managed.”

But for those who want to know the differences between a manager and a leader, the following lines from the book, “On Becoming a Leader,” by Warren Bennis, explains it clearly:

  • The manager administers; the leader innovates.
  • The manager is a copy; the leader is an original.
  • The manager maintains; the leader develops.
  • The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people.
  • The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust.
  • The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective.
  • The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why.
  • The manager has his or her eye always on the bottom line; the leader’s eye is on the horizon.
  • The manager imitates; the leader originates.
  • The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.
  • The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his or her own person.
  • The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

Like what you’ve read? If you want to know more how you can be a better leader, send me an email at greg@inscapeconsulting.com.

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