Management Gurus: Warren Bennis
It is not easy to remember that there was a time when few people talked about the need for leadership at work. Up until a couple of decades ago, managers managed; they didn't lead. Today, things are quite different. The best managers are also the best leaders. The person who is widely recognised as bringing about this change in thinking is Warren Bennis, University Professor and Chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California. Through his teaching and consultancies, Bennis has become the pre-eminent thinker on leadership. In 1996, Forbes magazine called him, "the dean of leadership gurus".
Warren Bennis and the Six Qualities of Leadership
Warren Bennis is a wide-ranging thinker on leadership and many of his ideas have become part of modern-day management thinking. One of his best-known ideas is his six qualities of leadership. Here they are:
Bennis says that "integrity" is the quality where what you say and what you do and what you are are one and the same. It is this quality that allows great leaders to stick to their guns when there are easier options. It is also the quality that inspires trust in others.
Dedication is the quality that comes from "going the extra mile". It means knowing how much energy and commitment to spend on a task and then going ahead and giving it all it needs. Leaders with a high level of commitment and dedication draw others to them like a magnet.
Magnanimity is a quality that is very close to virtuosity. It comes to the fore when leaders give credit to others for achieving the goals of a team rather than to themselves. It means knowing that your actions as leader are not about grasping the glory for yourself but about being able to create processes and results for the good of others.
Humility is the quality that allows leaders to be seen by others as "one of us". It's the common touch, the ability to understand what others are experiencing, and then to lift them to higher achievements. Humility is the opposite of arrogance. The humble leader is neither superior or inferior to others but the catalyst that allows others to excel.
Openness is the quality that allows leaders to consider other people's opinions without prejudice. It means suspending judgment and being ready to adopt a different point of view if it is better than your own. When leaders display openness, everyone contributes without fear knowing that they will be listened to and heard.
Creativity in leaders is the ability to think differently and outside the box. It is also the ability to create a climate in which others are similarly thinking. As Bennis himself said, "There are two ways to be creative. One can sing and dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish."
More Online Resources on Warren Bennis
Here 's Warren Bennis's website.
Here 's the first chapter of Warren Bennis's autobiography, "Still Surprised - A Memoir of a Life in Leadership".
Warren Bennis is featured as one of the inspiring gurus in this 58-slide Powerpoint file, "Building a Leader in You".