Lessons From Peter Drucker

Drucker, Executive Education and the MBA

William Cohen, Ph.D.
Posted: 11/29/2012

In a tough economy, what makes you stand out from the competition when you're looking for your next job? Here's what the master of management Peter F. Drucker thought.

Drucker said that fear of loss of job is inconsistent with good management. He saw numerous examples during his long career and they impacted on both his philosophies and his desire to encourage and perfect executive education. He spent most of his life not only writing, but teaching executive education much of it represented by the MBA.

Countless managers have failed to take necessary risks due to fear of loss of job. In some cases, their companies have failed and even gone out of business due to mistakes through inaction caused by fear of losing one’s job. In other companies, whole divisions have been lopped off and work has been re-located to other parts of the country or even sent overseas.

Drucker knew that managers must take action and so must you

It is unusual for someone who spends so much time reasoning and thinking through to the correct solution to be so focused on risk and action. However, Drucker was a man of action and he continually urged his students, clients, and readers to "do it now." If you are fully engaged now and doing great work and are even anticipating promotion, you are one of the fortunate few. Continue to do a great job and expect the best --- but prepare for the worst. This is a great time to take action to build your self-confidence and increase power to take risks which can help you to achieve success as a manager.

Conventional wisdom is that you begin your job campaign when you need a job. There is an inherent logic about this statement that seems irrefutable. The truth is that if you wait until you need a job to begin your job campaign, not only will a nagging fear inhibit your decision-making abilities, but you are putting yourself at a significant disadvantage.

Why?

To run the most job effective campaign in the shortest possible time, you will need:

  • Expert knowledge of your industry and its movers and shakers
  • A reputation of high performance within the company
  • A reputation of expertise in your field outside the company
  • Colleagues, and even bosses who are willing to recommend you
  • Reliable contacts outside the company to help you as references and with job intelligence

To acquire all this takes time. Therefore, don’t hesitate. Begin to prepare for your campaign immediately.

What it Takes to Win at any Job Competition

More than anything you need to stand out as much better than your competitors for the job that you seek. There is no question that what you have done in the past for your former employers is going to be a major factor. Any potential employer will only hire you based on his or her expectations that you are the best possible candidate for the job. However how what you have done is presented is of equal importance.

The Magic of the MBA

Do you need an MBA to be ready for having to suddenly look for a new job? Absolutely not! But having an MBA is an important additional weapon. If you have it already you are fortunate and it will give you a competitive advantage over competitors who do not have one. First, it represents a fact which is easily verifiable. Secondly, that you have an MBA means that you have at least been exposed to additional business or management tools which those who do not possess an MBA may not be aware of. An MBA is worthwhile and never too late to start. Of course it will help in performance of your present job as well. Drucker felt that executive education was so important that he devoted his entire life to teaching executives through his books, seminars, CDs, articles, and of course in the classroom. All of this was and is confirmed by the MBA.

However, the wrong MBA may not help you very much. If you attended Harvard Business School, that is going to be a major competitive advantage. You can’t go wrong. Harvard has instant name recognition and just graduating will be a positive advantage even if you barely squeak through with your grades. The same is true of any of the well-known business schools. But the disadvantage is the high cost, and the two years needed to get the diploma attesting to your accomplishment.

Overcoming High Costs

The high cost can be overcome by a student loan, but repaying the loan has been such a burden for students over the last decade that government has begun to consider whether or not to continue its support. Before taking a student loan for any MBA program you should ask recent graduates whether a degree from this particular school helped them to get a job or not. Also calculate what your monthly payments will be after graduation.

The State schools which receive tax payer monies to support them are another potential path. The problems here are the State budget cuts and the ability to get the classes you need to graduate. The length of time to complete your MBA can be important and this should always be investigated.

Online MBA programs might be a solution. Considering pure learning, many studies show that online learning is at least as good as the knowledge attained in the classroom. The biggest disadvantage of an online MBA is that many potential employers and regular universities still have not yet accepted them as equals, so you may not get the competitive advantage in hiring that you had hoped for. Also, it is difficult to teach teamwork, leadership and the like online. Finally, an MBA can be a source of immediate executive and business contacts, and this is rarely the case with online. A recent innovation to overcome these disadvantages is the "hybrid" or "blended" MBA --- some of the lessons are taught online and some in the classroom.

New MBA schools can be a source of real bargains because while they are usually licensed only after a comprehensive examination by authorities, no new school can be accredited. Accreditation is only granted after several years of operation. Thus while a new MBA school may be cutting edge, it is both unaccredited and unknown and must generally charge much less to attract students. However if a graduate school has been in operation for five years or more and is still not accredited you should investigate further. It either does not intend to become accredited or may have failed in the attempt.

In summary, regardless of what is to come economically, you can overcome obstacles in job search if you have competitive advantages over your job competitors. Drucker believed that even performance is affected by fear of loss of job and he spent his life in teaching the knowledge to raise performance as represented by the MBA, one major weapon in new job acquisition.

William Cohen, Ph.D.
Posted: 11/29/2012

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