Book Author: Warren Bennis
Book Review by : S S George
Director, ICMR (IBS Center for Management Research)
Warren Bennis, flavor of the month, effective leadership, Great Man theory, Lenin, communication, vacuum, thought, action, organizational integrity
In management writing, few subjects have produced as much verbiage as leadership. Among the many writers who have written on the subject, Warren Bennis is perhaps one of the few whose views are worth paying serious attention to. While much that is written on management today tends to be mere 'flavor of the month', written to make a quick buck, or simply to achieve a certain number of publications a year, Bennis takes a serious, reflective view of matters that are relevant to management. In this book (which is a new edition of a book that was first published in 1985), Bennis and Burt Nanus discuss leadership in the light of concerns facing today's businesses. Much of the book is based on a series of indepth interviews conducted by the authors, with ninety leaders
- sixty of them successful CEOs, the rest outstanding leaders from the public sector.
The problems of the present require effective organizations, if they are to be solved
- and effective organizations require effective leadership. Notions of what constitutes leadership have evolved and changed over the years. There was a time, according to what the authors refer to as the 'Great Man' theory of leadership, when it was believed that leaders were born, not made. Either you were born with what it takes to be a leader or, tough luck, you were not. This somewhat gloomy notion was later replaced by one that explained that great events made leaders out of otherwise ordinary people. Presumably, every time a crisis erupted, a leader would emerge and take charge - as
Lenin did during the Russian revolution, or Washington did when the American colonies decided to become independent. None of these theories could adequately explain the phenomenon called leadership. However, it is this very inadequacy and the current need for effective leadership that provide us an opportunity to reflect on the nature of leadership, and the essence of power.
Leading Others, Managing Yourself After observing and interviewing ninety outstanding leaders, the authors identified four areas of competency or human handling skills that seemed to embody effective leadership behavior, which they call the four strategies:
* Strategy I: attention through vision.
* Strategy II: meaning through communication.
* Strategy III: trust through positioning.
* Strategy IV: the deployment of self through (1) positive self regard, and (2) the Wallenda factor.
The authors discuss these four strategies from two perspectives: first, from the point of view of the leader as an individual with certain attributes that make him an effective leader; second, from the point of view of implementing these strategies to build an effective organization.