Developing Managers – Peter Drucker

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Join me as I read chapter 15, Developing Managers in Peter Drucker’s book, The Practice of Management. This book was published in 1993, I have some questions for you after you listen to this chapter. I’m curious on how applicable these ideas are to today’s manager development. They are at the bottom of the page on this post. Thanks for listening.

Have you ever read Peter Drucker’s book, The Practice of Management? Today I am reading Chapter 15, Developing Managers. The intro to the chapter includes a summary where Drucker writes about manager development being a threefold responsibility: to the enterprise, to society, to the individual. He goes on to explain what is not manager development, noting that “It cannot be promotion planning or finding “back-up men.”

Don’t get caught up on the word ‘men’ here. Remember that this book was published 27 years ago. Most managers at that time were all men. Let’s focus on what Drucker wants to talk about in this chapter, the “fallacy of the “promotable man” and this includes the following:

  • The principles of manager development
  • Developing the entire management group
  • Development for tomorrow’s demands
  • Job rotation is not enough
  • How to develop managers
  • The individual’s development needs
  • Manager manpower planning
  • Manager development not a luxury but a necessity

Drucker tells us in this chapter that we must make time to develop our managers.

“It is also a necessity for the spirit, the vision and the performance of today’s managers that they be expected to develop those who will manage tomorrow. Just as no one learns as much about a subject as the man who is forced to teach it, no one develops as much as the man who is trying to help others to develop themselves. The best performers in any profession always look upon the men they have trained and developed as the proudest monument they can leave behind.”

The Practice of Management, Chapter 15, Developing Managers, Page 189

Thoughts on this chapter – Do Drucker’s ideas still apply to today’s world of manager development?

  1. This book was published in 1993. Do you think too much has changed in the world of work for Drucker’s ideas about manager development to still work?
  2. “The first principle of manager development must therefore be the development of the entire management group.” Drucker said this in response to a previous paragraph where he discussed the “promotable-man” concept and the focus on one ‘man’ out of ten, saying that the rest of managers constitute the great majority; and they do the bulk of the actual managing of the business. What’s his point you ask? His point is that no matter how much growth is invested in the promotable people, failing to develop all managers, challenging all in growth and self-development, the whole management group will be inadequate to meet the needs of ‘tomorrow’s job.’ Do you agree that “Manager Development must focus on performance rather than on promise, and on tomorrow’s requirements rather than on those of today? Or do we just move too darn fast to not make this worthwhile today?
  3. Drucker said “the power of a company to attract good men is directly proportionate to its reputation as a developer of successful men for itself as well as for other companies.” Do you think these values even remotely apply to today?


Harper Business. (1993). Developing Managers. In The Practice of Management (pp. 182–189).

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