Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book Review: Management

The Book

A book with a one-word title like Management had better be the end all authority on the subject.

The subject of today's book review, Management by Peter Drucker, is exactly that. It has been hailed by many as the management bible. When he taught his university executive management courses, Drucker used this book exclusively for the entire course.

Such a weighty resource (608 pages!) is difficult to do justice in a single book review and I'm not even going to try.

I write this blog to help new and developing leaders and managers to grow in their skill and effectiveness. The entire text of Management is more than a beginning leader or manager needs or would find helpful. 

However, there is one section that I believe can be a huge benefit to all emerging managers. The section is listed as:

Part X: New Demands on the Individual

Chapter 45 Managing Oneself
Chapter 46 Managing the Boss
Chapter 47 Revitalizing Oneself
Chapter 48 The Educated Person

This is the best I have read when it comes to practical material on being effective at what you do.

Managing Yourself

Drucker begins this section by addressing self-knowledge. Who are you? What are your strengths? How do you work? Based on those answers, where do you belong? What are your contributions? How can you take what he terms "relationship responsibility"? 

Of particular interest is his discussion of whether you are a listener or a reader. There are so many practical applications of good self-knowledge...this may be the most valuable chapter in the entire book!

Managing the Boss

However, if one chapter is possibly as valuable - it is the very next chapter about managing the boss. In a compassionate turn of the golden rule, Drucker suggests we work with our supervisors in ways that play to their strengths, keep them informed, and protect them from surprises. 

After all, we would desire the same courtesy (and our supervisors are key to our own effectiveness).

In some organizations it may seem like a distant dream, but Drucker envisions a workplace where managers know themselves well and help others to work with them in their strengths AND the manager in turn learns the strengths of their team and supervisors and treats them according to their strengths. 

The idea is that everyone knows and works with the strengths of the other, regardless of position on the organization chart. It is a practical outworking of servant leadership principles in a management context.

Remaining Effective

The final chapters are also worth reading - they focus on the process of remaining effective over many years of knowledge work, through changes in technology, culture, and environment. Drucker shares stories from his own life that taught him principles of self-revitalization and can help us remain effective as the world around us changes. He concludes by underscoring the importance of being educated and helping our society to educate its members.

Overall, Section X is a great introduction to Drucker's magnum opus. If you are a serious student of management, purchase Management - you will read the remainder some day and it's inexpensive on Amazon. If you want to maximize your own effectiveness today, borrow this one from a library and read chapters 45-48.

More Resources
Happy Reading!

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Twitter: @davidmdye
David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

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