‘On Becoming a Leader’ by Warren Bennis, is a business classic. At 19 Bennis was the youngest infantry commander among the allies to fight in the Second World War. He later became the founder and distinguished Professor of Leadership at the Marshall School of Business, and worked on a daily basis with the best leaders in the World.
The theme of the book is that true leaders are not interested in proving themselves, but in being able to express themselves fully. For Bennis’s leaders, life is not a competition but a flowering. ‘What we need to know gets lost in what we are told we should know.’ Real learning is the process of remembering what is important to you, and the act of leader is becoming more and more true to yourself.
Leadership is an engagement with life itself because it demands that your unique vision be accomplished, and that usually involves a whole life. Some of the things that Bennis sees are important to a leader are; continuous learning and never dying curiosity, a compelling vision, an ability to communicate that vision, taking risk and tolerating uncertainty, personal integrity and discipline, re-invention, taking time out to reflect, a passion for both success and everyday life and a belief that the best is possible.
Leadership is a choice. Leaders are not born. Everyone leads in some way. But first of all you lead yourself.
To become a leader is to claim the power and assurance that comes from being a one off.
Our Business Book Series brings you summaries and stories from classical and contemporary business books that can be usefully applied for the success of your business; thinking that changes lives; tools that transform businesses.