An Invented Life: Reflections on Leadership and Change

An Invented Life: Reflections on Leadership and Change

An Invented Life: Reflections on Leadership and Change

An Invented Life: Reflections on Leadership and Change

Synopsis

Warren Bennis is Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the University of Southern California and a consultant to multinational companies and governments around the world. He also chairs the Advisory Board of the Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University. He is author of more than thirty books and dozens of other articles on leadership, including Managing the Dream, Organizing Genius, and Learning to Lead. He lives in Santa Monica, California.

Excerpt

Curiosity invariably gets the best of Warren Bennis. Lots of us are better off as a result. These pages are a wonderful tribute to a perpetually curious sixty-eight-year-old, who is as puzzled and thoughtful now as at age six or seven.

Bennis is a pioneer, and prescient. His work at MIT in the 1960s on group behavior foreshadowed—and helped bring about—today's headlong plunge into less hierarchical, more democratic and adaptive institutions, private and public. He's always burned his intellectual candle at both ends. While conducting meticulous research into the minutiae of social interaction, Warren was also risking self and soul as a leader of some of the first T-groups at the National Training Labs in Bethel, Maine. These intimate inner explorations, though, didn't stop him from engaging in the most oceanic prophecies. In a landmark 1964 Harvard Business Review article (see chapter 2), he and colleague Philip Slater astonishingly claimed that "democracy is inevitable." Only those of us who lived through McCarthyism and Khrushchev's shoe pounding at the United Nations can appreciate how outrageous such an idea sounded at the time. (The Harvard Business Review did Slater and Bennis the favor of reprinting the article in 1990; few of us have the opportunity of being able to say publicly, "I told you so.")

On the heels of that bold proclamation, just two years later, in 1966, came "The Coming Death of Bureaucracy" (chapter 4), in which Bennis insisted—bizarre, again, in the context of the times—that the centuries-old command-and-control, pyramidal . . .

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