Episode 5: Warren Bennis
Warren's work on leadership is in his book 'Leaders', which
he wrote with his colleague Burt Nanus in 1985. For this
book he interviewed 90 leaders in America from business organizations
and non-profit organizations.
It was encouraging to find that there is no one right way
to lead, that we each have to find our own best style, but Warren
did suggest some common characteristics or competencies:
- the Management of Attention - the need for a vision to
- the Management of Meaning - the need to communicate the vision
- the Management of Trust - the need to be consistent and
- the Management of Self - the need to be aware of one's
Leaders also need to be strong enough to accept criticism when it
is valid, to know when to change and when to plough on regardless.
In 'Organizing Genius' published in the nineties, Bennis examined
great groups and concluded that evey great group needed:
- a shared dream
- members ready to sacrifice their personal egos for the
- young members prepared to work long hours
- protection from the 'suits'
Leaders constantly remind people of why their work is important,
they create an atmosphere of trust so that people can disagree and
argue but still work together, they encourage curiosity, experiment
and risk-taking. Finally, leaders create hope, because without
hope it can be difficult to go on when everything seems to be going
After studying these great groups Bennis began to worry that he
had concentrated too much on the role of the individual leader.
Leadership, he now believes, is increasingly a shared task
and he talks now of partnership rather than leadership.
Next week we discuss the ideas of Sumantra
Ghoshal , who adds an Indian dimension to the study of organizations.
Read Warren Bennis'