How Peter Drucker Mentored


A life of influence is always a choice never an accident.

Bob Buford, founder of Halftime, was mentored by Peter Drucker for over twenty years. Yesterday, Bob told me the four contributions Drucker made to him as a mentor.


Before sharing the four contributions, Bob reminded me that Drucker was the consummate question asker. His great strength was his use of the Socratic Method. Successful mentors probe with questions and clarify with restatements.

The Four:

Bob said, Peter Drucker, as a mentor:

  1. Gave me permission to be me.
  2. Encouraged me along the way.
  3. Acknowledged my success.
  4. Held me accountable. He expected results.

The first three behaviors seem easier than the last. I asked Bob about holding people accountable.

“Accountability requires a volunteer.”

Holding people accountable:

Voluntary participation is the first essential of accountability. Other suggestions include:

  1. Accountability is for them not for you. If accountability is about making your life easier, it’s pressure or coercion. Accountability must be viewed as helpful not hurtful.
  2. Agree on behaviors and results. Accountability is a team effort, designed by all involved.
  3. Make it simple. Complexity destroys efficiency.
  4. Establish structure. Ask, for example, “When will you report your progress?” Set recurring accountability appointments.
  5. Create predictability. What happens if you succeed? What happens if you fail?
  6. Leverage the law of overflow. Accountability in one area often has positive impact in others. The discipline of getting out of bed may produce positive results in other areas, for example.
  7. Stay involved. Let them know you’re on their team, regularly.

People look for and enjoy accountability when they believe in it’s benefit and participate in designing it.

What mentoring strategies work for you?

What factors make accountability effective?

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