Wednesday, October 24, 2007

SQUANDER YOURSELF FOR A PURPOSE

WHY LEADERS CAN’T LEAD. I enjoy reading Warren Bennis on leadership. Bennis critiques American business leadership with a sharp eye and solid wisdom. In his book Why Leaders Can’t Lead, Bennis cites a primary problem with ineffective leadership—leaders mistake managing for leading. I call it “the curse of the turf-protecting MBAs.” It isn’t even good management. The following quote comes toward the back of the book, in a section titled “Parts of the Solution.”

THE TOOLS OF OUR TOOLS. “As technology advances on every front, as our tools become more accomplished…we are more capable than ever of realizing our visions, even our more extravagant visions. Yet the more we are able to, the less we seem to do. We are in danger of becoming, in Thoreau’s words, ‘the tools of our tools,’ mere operators rather than explorers, mechanics rather than inventors.”

LIVING UP TO OUR VISIONS. “The world doesn’t need any more operators or mechanics, but it desperately needs explorers and inventors—people willing to take on the world and its problems by living up to their own visions of excellence and using their talents to the full…”

MORE SQUNDERERS NEEDED. “Anyone who isn’t seeking fulfillment because of fear of failing or looking foolish isn’t happy, any more than the cormorant [an excellent sea fishing bird that is captured and tamed by fishermen, who place a ring around its neck so it cannot swallow the big fish; for its reward of using its excellence to serve small ends, the cormorant receives just enough food to keep it coming back hungry] is happy, however successful that person may be. As John Mason Brown once said, ‘the only true happiness comes from squandering yourselves for a purpose.’ America in general, and American business in particular, need more squanderers and fewer cormorants.”

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