Peter Drucker’s “Managing Oneself”

Managing Oneself

The late Peter F. Drucker’s Managing Oneself (2008), an offering in the Harvard Business Review Classic series, is a smart, thought-provoking little monograph on career development and assessment. He opens this way:

History’s great achievers — a Napoleon, a da Vinci, a Mozart — have always managed themselves. That, in large measure, is what makes them great achievers. But they are rare exceptions, so unusual in both their talents and their accomplishments as to be considered outside the boundaries of ordinary human existence. Now, most of us, even those of us with modest endowments, will have to learn to manage ourselves. . . .

In fewer than 60 pages, Drucker asks us to consider the following questions:

  • “What are my strengths?”
  • “How do I perform?”
  • “What are my values?”
  • “Where do I belong?”
  • “What should I contribute?”

He also urges us to think about our “responsibility for relationships” and to develop opportunities for “the second half of your life.”

Drucker was a man of the 20th century, so he references many historical leaders of the era. But even if you’re a 21st century kinda person, his larger points merit consideration. Drucker was one of the most forward looking thinkers in management theory and practice, and his ideas remain very relevant today. This little book provides more questions than answers, but that’s probably the way it should be. The rest is up to us.

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