On Becoming A Leader, Warren Bennis - Book Summary

“Leaders do not prove themselves, in exchange, they show themselves.”

True leadership arises when a person realizes his or her full unique potential.

This book is for

  • Those who have been, are and will cherish the dream of becoming a true leader
  • Those who wish to lead themselves forward
  • All those who want to learn about the secret behind the great leaders  

“Whatever works for leaders, good or bad, works for each of us. Only when we understand what we are doing and what we want to do can we begin our lives and make all our wishes come true…”

About Warren Bennis

Bennis plays an important role in leadership research. In 1985, based on observations and interviews with 90 leaders of America, from astronaut Neil Armstrong to Ray Kroc - the founder of McDonald's, he came to the conclusion that leadership is more important than we think and Anyone can learn it.

On Becoming A Leader asks how you can make leadership a habit in your life when the world around you is ever-changing. The book is the product of profound conversations about a number of people (far fewer than the 90 studied in 1985), in all, only 28 people, including Film Director Sydney Pollack, the woman rights holder Betty Friedan, and musician and A&M Record founder Herb Alpert.

What is a leader?

On the way to becoming a leader offers many insights. Perhaps the core issue and theme of the book is this: True leaders don't focus on proving themselves, above all, what they want is to be able to express themselves. Proving yourself from the author's point of view is a limited or one-sided vision of the individual, while leaders, by constantly searching for ways to express themselves to their fullest, are willing to engage with others. continuing to regenerate.

For the leaders of Bennis, life is not a competition but a flowering. The educational and social paradigm is often present in the way we lead: “What we need to know is hidden in what we should know.” Real learning is the process of remembering what's important to you; Being a leader is an act of expressing who you really are.

Leadership is a commitment to life, because it requires vision, and often involves the whole of life. When people justify that they can't lead, or don't want to lead, they often think about managing and speaking. But leadership is as diverse as personality, and the key question here is not whether you become a burden, but how do you overcome challenges, break out of mediocrity, and truly lead. self.

According to Bennis, being a leader includes:

  • Learn continuously and never stop being curious
  • An intriguing point of view: leaders always first define their own reality (what they believe is within reach), then establish the “governance dream”
  • Develop the ability to communicate and inspire others to follow
  • Take risks and uncertainties boldly
  • Self-aware, forthright, mature, and receptive to criticism
  • Be unique, be original: “Leaders learn from others, but do not imitate and become others”
  • Reinventing: to create new things sometimes requires reinventing yourself. People may be influenced by their genes and surroundings, but true leaders take advantage of all those influences and create unique things.
  • Take the time to think, this gives the answer and the solution
  • Longing for convictions in life: believing (and finding) what's best for yourself and others
  • See small successes, growth and joy every day, rather than waiting years to see huge success.
  • Take advantage of your life situation, not deny it

Bennis believes that at the end of the 20th century, business was more about management than leadership, and people and organizations focused on small problems and short-term results. His message was: You should stop being the product of circumstances, of space and time. You can use the situation as the basis for developing your own identity, or you can turn it into your idea.

The path of leadership may be more challenging than imagined, but it holds immense potential and is satisfying. To lead, you must be independent against the culture, age, and stigma of others. You must decide to live in a world devoid of all those restraints. Leadership can't stop at making good on cultural boundaries, leaders create new contexts, new things, new ways to break and become greater.

A few examples

For individuals, leadership is defined by integrity, a compelling vision, and the ability to take risks. Bennis cites the example of television producer Norman Lear, an American television revolutionary, with shows like All in the Family, Cagney and Lacey . For the first time in history, there was a TV show that reflected real Americans instead of cowboys, portraying discreet and satirical glances at families. Lear sees a world waiting to be exposed and expressed. His program not only broke the mold, but was successful year after year.

In his assessment of the American president, Bennis sees Johnson, Nixon, and Carter as moderators, who direct their personal events to the countries they govern. On the other hand, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy have the gifts of personal reinvention and living in the present to reshape America's future. Lincoln was perhaps the greatest president because of his visionary ability: to end slavery and protect the Union.

A world of leaders

Bennis believes that we all desperately need leaders. On his way to becoming a leader, he wrote , when the leadership of the US economy faced a great challenge, we may forget it now, but it seems that in the late 1980s, Japan overcame it. America in production, accumulation and innovation.

Perhaps America listened to Bennis and other leadership theorists as they discussed revitalizing the American economy. Characterized by that revival is innovation and an emphasis on quality. And then the first successful companies are the ones that know how to get their employees to reach their full potential. Bennis has highlighted the link between personal knowledge and business success.

The new leader is not satisfied with the habit of doing the same job or running a company. They extend their personal vision further. Now, the only way companies can attract and retain the best is to give them greater value than money or prestige. That's the chance for those people to make history. For example, Internet retailer Amazon.com's motto: "Work hard, play hard, change the world."

Last comment

Bennis does not believe that leadership is innate. Above all, leadership is a choice that concerns ourselves first.

We live in a democracy, so everyone can have an equal chance at leadership. Many people understand leadership as always demanding increasing competition to the point of fierceness. However, the competition is the result of striving to win. A good leader asserts his strength with his own vision.

His other books include

Genius Foundation (1997)

Leaders: The Power of Great Partnerships (1999)

Life Patent (1993)