Peter Drucker’s Wisdom
In these divided and divisive times, when we are losing our “civil discourse in a civil society,” it is worth remembering the words of Peter Drucker, who a week after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York, wrote to our team and urged us in vivid, still relevant terms, not “to abandon daily life and civil society”— but “to strengthen daily life and civil society.”
My message today—in the midst of a string of national tragedies, in a country still at war— on university campuses, in corporate boardrooms, across the social sector, echoes Peter’s.
The events in Newtown, Connecticut, where teachers and students—the youngest in the school—were the victims, struck us deeply. Yet, referring to the victims of 9/11, we are reminded of Peter’s call ... “to reaffirm their communal basic values and fundamental decencies.”
“After all,” Peter wrote, “it is what the Drucker Foundation [now The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute] is all about.”
I was touched by President Obama’s remarks addressed to families from Sandy Hook Elementary School:
"As a community, you’ve inspired us, Newtown. In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you’ve looked out for each other, and you’ve cared for one another, and you’ve loved one another."
Our times call us to move beyond the old walls and together find the courage to carry on as we are called to do. We do not know what lies ahead, yet whatever the challenge, leaders will rise, finding the heart, the language, the caring that embraces and sustains.
23 Years of Inspiration
The foundation may bear my name, but the heart, mind, and soul of the organization continue to move the Peter Drucker legacy—his intellectual, spiritual, ethical models—across the sectors, around the world as we keep the faith. 2013 marks the institute’s 23rd year providing free leadership resources to leaders in all sectors. Your stories of personal transformation have inspired us to continue our work to strengthen leadership in every sector.
In 1990, when our institute began, we were interviewed by Fred Andrews of The New York Times . The title of Mr. Andrews’ article was “IDEAS INTO ACTION: Thinking Great Thoughts Without Great Money,” and as I mentioned in the article, “We are an anomaly, we have no money. We deal only in intellectual capital. We don’t make grants. We bring great thought leaders together with the leaders of the nonprofit sector.”’
That shift is aligned with our research as well—the number of private companies focused on social issues is rising. We have recently written about a number of them in Profile in Innovation , including Sseko Designs, Warby Parker, and Denik, an organization founded by t yler Tolson, an alumnus of our own Hesselbein Global Academy for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement
Across the sectors there are common questions and common challenges. Yet, we all call for principled leadership. t his is the a merican public responding to the crisis of leadership in our own country.
Leading change calls for effective, ethical leaders in our country and countries around the world, in every sector at every level of every enterprise: not a leader, not the leader, but many leaders dispersing the re- sponsibilities of leadership across the organization.
Frances Hesselbein is editor-in-chief of Leader to Leader, founding president of the Drucker Foundation, president and CEO of The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute, and former chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.
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