Summary of On Becoming a Leader

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On Becoming a Leader book summary


9 Overall

9 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


In the mid-1980s, Warren Bennis wrote this classic model for modern leadership based on personal growth, self-expression, learning and integrity, drawing from interviews with dozens of leaders. Most importantly, he found, leaders do not seek to lead. Instead, they seek to express themselves fully. They embrace risks and mistakes, learning from adversity. They reflect on all of their experiences. With these skills, they inspire others to follow them. They turn organizations into communities which find each member’s highest potential. Bennis falls into the one mistake he accuses American managers of making: he takes a poll (of successful leaders) and then gets caught in short-term thinking to address its results. As a result, this pessimistic analysis of American business is dated today. In the 21st century’s light, some of his examples - i.e. the late Robert Maxwell and Apple Computer’s John Sculley - seem quite dubious. However, appreciates Bennis’ basic, inspiring philosophy of leadership and so will you. Read this if you want to lead - and be good at it.

In this summary, you will learn

  • The characteristics and behavior of leaders and
  • How to apply these factors to being a better leader.

About the Author

Warren Bennis has written or co-written 19 books. He has served as a consultant for multinational corporations and governments around the world. He is a Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the University of Southern California.



Becoming a Leader
Leadership rests on three key lessons: 1) Staying with the status quo won’t work, 2) The key to competitive advantage is a leader’s ability to create a social architecture that can generate intellectual capital and 3) Followers need direction, trust and hope from their...

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