ON BECOMING A LEADER (c) 1989 (c) paperback 1994 Perseus Books pp215 price 26.00
Warren Bennis-professor of business administration. U.S.C.
New Introduction to the Paperback Edition.
The changes between 1989 and 1994 were huge. (Imagine the changes since 1994.) Leaders need to generate "intellectual capital" p.xii. Leaders are looked to for direction. trust, and hope. Trust is built through ambition, competence, and integrity. Success for leaders and organizations involves ideas, relationships, and adventure.
"Leadership is like beauty; its hard to define, but you know it when you see it." p.1. This book is about the ‘hows’ of leadership. Capacity for leadership is common. Becoming a leader is difficult. Real leaders are more interested in expressing themselves than proving themselves.
Chapter 1 Mastering the Context.
Leaders are important because "they are responsible for the effectiveness of organizations." p.15. They provide stability amidst change. We need institutions with integrity. "A nation can’t survive without public virtue, it can’t progress without a common vision."p.20. Corporate America does not produce effective leaders because of the focus on the present, instant gratification. There is an "addiction to the short term"..23. "Opportunities for leaders are boundless but so are the challenges."p.24. A boss is not a leader. An example is presented of a ‘leader’, who failed and one who succeeded, and the difference between them. Succeeding has to do with "1.becoming self-expressive, 2.listening to the inner voice, 3.learning from the right mentors, 4. giving oneself over to a guiding vision."p.34. Escaping from one’s context has to do with change.
Chapter 2. Understanding the Basics.
Leadership is made up of the following basic ingredients; guiding vision, passion, integrity, trust, curiosity, and daring, These ingredients are not gifts people are born with but they are acquired traits. This acquisition is not so much through learned skills as development, i.e. "leaders invent themselves".p.42. Several U.S. presidents are looked at as examples of successful and unsuccessful leaders. A comparison is made between leaders and managers. "To become a leader, then, you must become yourself." p.51.
Chapter 3. Knowing Yourself.
Knowing yourself has to do with who you are and want to be and what others think you are and want you to be. There are four lessons of selfknowledge; "1. You are your best teacher. 2. Accept responsibility. Blame no one. 3. You can learn anything you want to learn. 4. True understanding comes from reflecting on your experience."p.56. There is a significant difference between teaching and learning. "Teaching homogenizes, learning liberates."p.70.
Chapter 4. Knowing the World.
Our world is made up of our experiences. Most learning is either maintenance or schock learning. What really needs to happen is innovative learning. The focus will be on one’s trust in oneself. "Creative problemsolving is a form of innovative learning."p.77. Learning happens when one travels. We learn from others, friends, mentors, models. Learning happens through mistakes, honest ones. Risktaking is essential.
Chapter 5. Operating on Instinct.
"When I’ve been most effective, I’ve followed that inner voice."(instinct) Norman Lear. Leaders are able to develop strength and effectiveness from diversity in people and elements. Luck is a significant element in successful leaders. "No leader sets out to be a leader. People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully. When that expression is of value they become leaders." p.111.
Chapter 6. Deploying Yourself: Strike Hard, Try Everything.
Thinkers are rare in our culture. Reflection helps us to use our experiences rather than be used by them. i.e. positive rather than negative. "True reflection inspires, informs, and ultimately demands resolution." p.118. Good leadership involves perspective, a point of view. Several tests are suggested to help you express yourself. In order to maximize drive there has to be desire. "Passion is infectious." p.130. There cannot be good leadership without mastery. Strategic thinking or creative thinking needs to be a basic tool for a leader. There is no true leadership without trust. "Leadership is first being, then doing." p.141.
Chapter 7. Moving Through Chaos.
"As weather shapes mountains, so problems make leaders." p.146. Much can be learned from negative leaders. Stress, challenge, and adversity have potential for great success and development. e.g. Job.
Chapter 8. Getting People on Your Side.
Empathy is essential to inspire people to come on side. People should be persuaded not commanded to come on side. Trust makes voice leadership possible. Trust in leaders involves, "constancy, congruity, and integrity. Integrity is the basis for trust". p.164.
Chapter 9. Organizations Can Help- or Hinder.
Organizations must change to survive. Five forces are discussed that are active in today’s world; technology, global interdependence, mergers and acquisitions, regulation and deregulation, and demographics and values. It is archaic for organizations to see its people as a liability rather than an asset. This is a real obstacle to positive change.Positive changes involve vision which comes from a leader or from leaders working in concert. This happens through leading not managing. Such leaders must be both creative and concerned. They learn through experience not through courses. Potential leaders are empowered through opportunities.
Chapter 10. Forging The Future.
"It is through changing something that one truly comes to understand it." Kurt Lewin. The author presents ten factors for the future. pp.192-201.
1. Leaders manage the dream.
2. Leaders embrace error.
3. Leaders encourage effective backtalk.
4. Leaders encourage dissent.
5. Leaders possess the Nobel Factor.
6.Leaders understand the Pygmalion effect in management.
7. Leaders have what I think of as a Gretzky Factor.
8. Leaders see the long view.
9. Leaders understand stakeholder symmetry.
10. Leaders create strategic alliances and partnerships.
It is stimulating to read about leadership from an author who is not a church leader or who does not focus on the church culture. What motivated me to buy this book was seeing Bill Hybels do an interview with Dr, Bennis at the August (02) Summit Conference. At 77 he still teaches at U.S.C. and is an authority on leadership issues. His insights are profound and the principles are applicable to church leadership. Here is a book that brings balance and depth to the topic.