Source: The Economist: Schumpeter
The man who invented the study of corporate leadership, Warren Bennis, died on July 31. WARREN BENNIS was the world’s most important thinker on the subject that business leaders care about more than any other: themselves. When he started writing about leadership in the 1950s the subject was a back road. When he died on July 31st it was an eight-lane highway crowded with superstar professors whizzing along in multi-million-dollar muscle cars.
Mr Bennis produced about 30 books on leadership.
Some of them are classics, such as “On Becoming a Leader” (1989). All are surprisingly readable, stuffed with anecdotes, examples and literary references. He offered advice to leaders from all walks of life. Howard Schultz, the chairman of Starbucks, regarded him as a mentor. Presidents from both sides of the aisle—John Kennedy and Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan—sought his advice. If Peter Drucker was the man who invented management (as a book about him claimed), then Warren Bennis was the man who invented leadership as a business idea.
Central to his thinking was a distinction between managers and leaders. Managers are people who like to do things right, he argued. Leaders are people who do the right thing. Managers have their eye on the bottom line. Leaders have their eye on the horizon. Managers help you to get to where you want to go. Leaders tell you what it is you want. He chastised business schools for focusing on the first at the expense of the second. People took MBAs, he said, not because they wanted to be middle managers but because they wanted to be chief executives. He argued that “failing organisations are usually over-managed and under-led”. Read the rest of this entry »