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Peter Drucker Quotes That Define Management & Leadership

Whether you are in leadership or just want some life advice, these Peter Drucker quotes will inspire and motivate you.

If you are a management professional, then you probably already know who Peter Drucker is. If you aren’t, you might be wondering, “what is Peter Drucker best known for?”

Well, Peter Drucker was one of the first people to believe that management had a distinct philosophy with a unique function and that managers themselves had a specific responsibility. He wrote many books on the subject and his work is used in management theory today.

Drucker was born in Austria and lived in Germany following WWI. Next, he lived in London, married, and moved to The United States. He became a naturalized citizen in 1943 and taught business at university level.

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In 1971, he developed the first executive MBA program. It is no wonder people often called him “the father of management thinking.” 

These Peter Drucker quotes will inspire and encourage you as you work through your professional and personal life.

Don’t forget to also check out these leadership quotes that will spark your fire.

Peter Drucker quotes about technology and business

1. “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” — Peter Drucker

2. “Company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change one. Try, instead, to work with what you’ve got.” — Peter Drucker

3. “Business, that’s easily defined – it’s other people’s money.” — Peter Drucker

4. “The computer is a moron.” — Peter Drucker

5. “The purpose of a business is to create a customer.” — Peter Drucker

6. “The new information technology… Internet and e-mail… have practically eliminated the physical costs of communications.” — Peter Drucker

7. “Few companies that installed computers to reduce the employment of clerks have realized their expectations… They now need more and more expensive clerks, even though they call them ‘operators’ or ‘programmers.” — Peter Drucker

8. “Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship. The act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.” — Peter Drucker

9. “We can say with certainty – or 90% probability – that the new industries that are about to be born will have nothing to do with information.” — Peter Drucker

10. “If analysis shows that someone’s brilliant work fails again and again as soon as cooperation from others is required, it probably indicates a lack of courtesy – that is, a lack of manners.” — Peter Drucker

11. “Manners are the lubricating oil of an organization. It is a law of nature that two moving bodies in contact with each other create friction. This is as true for human beings as it is for inanimate objects.” — Peter Drucker

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12. “One thing is almost certain: in the future, there will be not one kind of corporation but several different ones.” — Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker quotes about leadership and management

13. “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” — Peter Drucker

14. “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.” — Peter Drucker

15. “So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work.” — Peter Drucker

16. “Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.” — Peter Drucker

17. “Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.” — Peter Drucker

18. “No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.” — Peter Drucker

19. “Management by objective works – if you know the objectives. Ninety percent of the time you don’t.” — Peter Drucker

20. “The productivity of work is not the responsibility of the worker, but of the manager.” — Peter Drucker

21. “Executives owe it to the organization and to their fellow workers not to tolerate nonperforming individuals in important jobs.” — Peter Drucker

22. “As the corporation moves towards a confederation or a syndicate, it will increasingly need a top management that is separate, powerful, and accountable. This top management’s responsibilities will cover the entire organization’s direction, planning, strategy, values, and principles; its structure and its relationship between its various members; its alliances, partnerships, and joint ventures; and its research, design, and innovation.” — Peter Drucker

23. “An equally important task for top management in the next society’s corporation will be to balance the three dimensions of the corporation: as an economic organization, as a human organization, and as an increasingly important social organization.” — Peter Drucker

Wise Peter Drucker quotes about life

24. “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” — Peter Drucker

25. “People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.” — Peter Drucker

26. “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” — Peter Drucker

27. “Today knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement.” — Peter Drucker

28. “The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” — Peter Drucker

29. “Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… but no plans.” — Peter Drucker

30. “Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.” — Peter Drucker

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31. “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” — Peter Drucker

32. “The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.” — Peter Drucker

33. “A manager is responsible for the application and performance of knowledge.” — Peter Drucker

34. “Never mind your happiness; do your duty.” — Peter Drucker

35. “Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer.” — Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker quotes about efficiency, production, and decision-making

36. “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” — Peter Drucker

37. “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” — Peter Drucker

38. “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” — Peter Drucker

39. “The most efficient way to produce anything is to bring together under one management as many as possible of the activities needed to turn out the product.” — Peter Drucker

40. “Making good decisions is a crucial skill at every level.” — Peter Drucker

41. “Most discussions of decision making assume that only senior executives make decisions or that only senior executives’ decisions matter. This is a dangerous mistake.” — Peter Drucker

42. “Suppliers and especially manufacturers have market power because they have information about a product or a service that the customer does not and cannot have, and does not need if he can trust the brand. This explains the profitability of brands.” — Peter Drucker

43. “Checking the results of a decision against its expectations shows executives what their strengths are, where they need to improve, and where they lack knowledge or information.” — Peter Drucker

44. “Corporations will have to pay attention; both to their short-term business results and to their long-term performance.” — Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker quotes about knowledge, learning, and education

45. “Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance. In teaching, we rely on the ‘naturals’, the ones who somehow know how to teach.” — Peter Drucker

46. “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” — Peter Drucker

47. “Knowledge has to be improved, challenged and increased constantly, or it vanishes.” — Peter Drucker

48. “The growth for education and training will be in continuing adult education. Online delivery is the trigger for this growth, but the demand for lifetime education stems from profound changes in society. We live in an economy where knowledge, not buildings and machinery, is the chief resource and where knowledge-workers make up the biggest part of the workforce.” — Peter Drucker

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49. “My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.” — Peter Drucker

50. “When a subject becomes totally obsolete, we make it a required course.” — Peter Drucker

51. “What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker

52. “If you want to improve how you manage time – stop doing what doesn’t need to be done!” – Peter Drucker

53. “The task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths so strong that it makes the system’s weaknesses irrelevant.” – Peter Drucker

More Peter Drucker quotes and sayings

54. “Leadership is an achievement of trust.” – Peter Drucker

55. “The most common source of mistakes in management decisions is the emphasis on finding the right answer rather than the right question.” – Peter Drucker

56. “I no longer think that learning how to manage people, especially subordinates, is the most important for executives to learn. I am teaching above all else, how to manage oneself.” – Peter Drucker

57. “The essence of management is to make knowledge productive.” – Peter Drucker

58. “Management is not being brilliant. Management is being conscientious.” – Peter Drucker

59. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” – Peter Drucker

60. “Management must take the lead in making obsolete its own products and services rather than waiting for a competitor to do so.” – Peter Drucker

What did you learn from these Peter Drucker quotes?

Peter Drucker is near to my heart, as I hold a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. One of my biggest pet peeves in today’s business world is that people who have no business managing anyone are put in these roles as a reward for seniority or doing their job well.

Then the organization leaves them there to figure out how to lead people. Most do not receive the training and knowledge they need to be successful or help their subordinates become successful. It essentially sets everyone up for failure. 

If companies would invest more in teaching their leaders how to be leaders, they would see much better results. As Peter Drucker mentioned, corporations have to pay attention. Sadly, they are often focused on the wrong things and miss the bigger picture that the role of management has on their organization.

If you would like to learn more about management theory and Peter Drucker, check out his article, The American CEO.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Peter Drucker quotes and sayings? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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