Friday, April 26, 2013

Learning in Leading

Warren Bennis' insights on leading focus on the internal work of the leader

I find myself returning every now and then to Warren Bennis’ little book On Becoming a Leader (Addison Wesley, 1989). The following quote is from the chapter “Moving Through Chaos.”

INNOVATION AND INTUITION. “A leader is, by definition, an innovator. He [sic] does things other people haven’t done or don’t do. He does things in advance of other people. He makes new things. He makes old things new. Having learned from the past, he lives in the present, with one eye on the future. And each leader pulls it all together in a different way. To do that…leaders must be right-brain, as well as left-brain thinkers. They must be intuitive, conceptual, synthesizing, and artistic.”

LEARN, LEAD, GROW. “Learning to lead is, on one level, learning to manage change…and that includes changes within the leader. One of a leader’s principal gifts is his ability to use his experiences to grow in office. The leader does it better and better and better, but is never satisfied. The leader knows better than anyone that the fundamental problems of life are insoluble, but he persists anyway, and he continues to learn.”

OUR CURRICULUM: ADVERSITY. “Leaders learn by leading, and they learn best by leading in the face of obstacles. As weather shapes mountains, so problems make leaders. Difficult bosses, lack of vision and virtue in the executive suite, circumstances beyond their control, and their own mistakes have been the leaders’ basic curriculum.”

John Franklin Hay 
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

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