A Tribute to Warren Bennis, “The Father of Leadership”

Bill George, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School and author, wrote of the passing of Warren Bennis, American scholar, organizational consultant and author:

“… a giant oak has fallen with an impact felt throughout the world…. Just as Peter Drucker was “the father of management,” Warren Bennis will be remembered as “the father of leadership.” It was Warren who first said leadership is not a set of genetic characteristics, but rather the result of the lifelong process of self-discovery. As he once wrote:  ‘The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.’ “

Warren Bennis found his joy and love of life not in positional power, but personal power.  He wrote: “I realized my personal truth. I was never going to be able to be happy with positional power. What I really wanted was personal power: having influence based on my voice. My real gift is what I can do in the classroom or as a mentor.” The following are quotes of  the rich legacy of teaching he left us.

“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple, and it is also that difficult.”
“Leaders must encourage their organizations to dance to forms of music yet to be heard.”
“Leaders know the importance of having someone in their lives who will unfailingly and fearlessly tell them the truth.”
“The manager has his eye on the bottom line; the leader has his eye on the horizon.”
“Leaders should always expect the very best of those around them. They know that people can change and grow.”
“Great things are accomplished by talented people who believe they will accomplish them.”

And so it is with great leaders – to influence with their voice, sharing their gifts of leadership that others may develop. To Warren Bennis, we all say: ‘Thank you, our dearest teacher and friend for helping us grow… to be more than we ever dreamed we could be… and more… so much more.

Let your voice be heard.  There is only one beautiful and special you whose voice is unique in eternity.

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