August 18, 2017

Citizenship and Courage

The torch of Liberty that welcomed Peter Drucker to America 75 years ago has been tarnished by “blood and soil.” So leaders: It’s time to stand up and be counted.

After last weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia, leaders will be counted whether they want to or not. This is perhaps a terrifying prospect: Good leaders don’t want to be counted. They want to serve their employees and customers, and let the results be counted.

But the first result, before profit or impact, is citizenship. As Drucker wrote, “a healthy business cannot exist in a sick society.”

Leaders now must choose between fear and courage. The fear of being counted when vigilantes occupy public parks. The courage to be counted when democracy is on the line. As the Drucker Institute’s leader, I feel the same mix of fear and courage as any other human being would when faced with this predicament.

Like Drucker himself, I am madly in love with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The violence in Charlottesville—and the apologies for it offered up by President Trump—broke my heart. Specifically because of that, I choose courage. I choose to stand up and be counted.

I hope you will count me, and the Drucker Institute, by the column that our own Rick Wartzman filed this week for Fast Company, Peter Drucker Has Some Sage Advice For How Execs Should Respond To Charlottesville. I hope you will count me, and the Institute, by our recently-opened KH Moon Center for a Functioning Society, which is working to tackle some of society’s big challenges in pursuit of the vision that Peter Drucker held: one in which people thrive because of—not in spite of—our major institutions.

Thanks to performing, responsible institutions in all sectors, America’s better angels live on. Not in politicians’ bland claims of false equivalence or in domestic terrorists’ racial hatred but in the deeper values of responsibility, contribution and citizenship.

— Zach First, Executive Director