Book Authors: Warren G. Bennis, Robert J. Thomas
Book Review by : Anil Kumar Kartham
Faculty Associate, ICMR (IBS Center for Management Research)
DLeadership, cross-generational leadership, wisdom, skill, Era, Changing the world, organization, how people become leaders, Crucible, Individual factors, IQ, self-grooming, Adaptive capacity, leadership competencies
The authors call this experience as "Crucible." Crucible is a transformative experience. Most of the leaders interviewed said that they had intense, traumatic, and unplanned experiences that transformed them. These experiences had become sources of their leadership capabilities. While undergoing these experiences, they had thorough and deep self-reflection in which they questioned their values, assumptions, and priorities. During these traumatic times they tried to find out who they were, and what was the purpose of their lives.
The Geezers were children of depression and World Wars. For them stability was the greatest virtue. They struggled to find this stability in the dangerously changing world they lived in (the period between the World Wars and after). On the other hand, the Geeks are children of relatively secure 70s and 80s. For them the problem is that of choice. They have abundant opportunities. The only problem is what to choose.
Another important aspect of the theory of leadership is "Individual factors." Individual factors are the traits or specific features leaders bring into the world. They can be IQ, wealth, knowledge or any thing that is present in an individual. Authors do not emphasize much on these factors in the book. Neither do they give much importance to them. Their statement makes it clear "...most are significant only to the extent that they motivate or inhibit the individual who displays them." The authors feel that too much importance is being given to these "Individual factors" in the study of leadership. Their allegation is not without sound basis. They have research and results to back up their statement. The authors compare leadership to other forms of creativity. The most gifted or the person with suitable socioeconomic background need not be the most creative person in the field. A lot depends upon how a person grooms himself. They call this "self-grooming" as building "Adaptive capacity." Adaptive capacity is an individual's ability to adapt to a crisis or challenge.
Then the authors talk of "leadership competencies". Adaptive capacity is one such competency. Other competencies include: engaging others by creating shared meaning, voice, and integrity. A leader should have a vision and should be able to engage his people and sell it. Both the geeks and the geezers are skillful at engaging their people and they are obsessive communicators. Not only are they good communicators, but also they are good listeners. They give voice to others' opinions. Similarly leaders in both the groups posses strong set of values and rules of conduct. They had impeccable character.
To sum up, the authors tried to build their leadership model based on experience rather than on a particular attribute. The authors gave importance to the inherent value of experience and the adaptive capacity of leaders. This concept though known for a long time, yet in the field of management this is new and fresh. The book takes a break from concentrating on obvious ratios and accomplishments and concentrates instead on what goes behind.
More ICMR India Case Studies
|Business Environment||Business Ethics||Business Reports||Business Strategy|
|Corporate Governance||Economics||Enterprise Risk Management||Finance|
|HRM||Innovation||Insurance||IT and Systems|
|Leadership and Entrepreneurship||Marketing||Miscellaneous||Operations|
|Project Management||Short Case Studies||Cases in other Languages||Free Case Studies|