CEO Hall of Fame
Most Respected CEOs & CEO Hall of Fame

Warren Bennis
Leadership Guru - (1925 - Present)

  • "Empowerment is the collective effort of leadership." (Warren Bennis)

Key Work

  • Sets up department for organizational studies at MIT.
  • Appointed Provost of State University of New York (SUNY)
  • President of the University of Cincinnati.
  • Professor of Management at the University of Southern California.
  • He researches leadership characteristics among  90 successful American leaders in different fields ranging from Neil Armstrong, The Astronaut to Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's
  • Publication of "The Unconscious Conspiracy : Why Leaders Can't lead.", "Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge". "On Becoming a Leader" and "Organizing Genius".

In His work with and Nanus, he identified four common factors amongst the leaders.

  1. Vision
  2. communication
  3. Positioning & Trust
  4. Positive self-regard & developed "emotional wisdom,"

"Transformative" Leadership = Empowerment Via

  1. Significance - a feeling of making a difference
  2. Competence - development and learning "on the job"
  3. Community - a sense of inter-dependence and involvement in a common cause
  4. Enjoyment - capacity to have fun at work because it is enjoyable and involving.

They outline 5 myths about leadership are identified and contradicted:

  1. Leaders are born not made
  2. Leadership is a rare skill
  3. Leaders are charismatic - most are ordinary.
  4. Leadership can exist only at the "top" - it is relevant at all levels.
  5. Leaders control, direct, and manipulate - they do not. Transformative leaders empower and align the efforts towards an attractive goal.

Books & References:

  • Why Leaders Can't Lead: The Unconscious Conspiracy Continues
  • Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge (Collins Business Essentials)
  • On Becoming A Leader: The Leadership Classic--Updated And Expanded
  • Bennis, Warren, with Patricia Ward Biederman. Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration. Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 1997.
  • Managing People Is Like Herding Cats: Warren Bennis on Leadership. Provo, UT: Executive Excellence Publishing, 1998.
  • Managing the Dream: Reflections on Leadership and Change. Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2000.


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