An Invented Life: Reflections on Leadership and Change

By Warren Bennis | Go to book overview

13
Change: The New
Metaphysics

How change happens and how to make it happen.

Change is the metaphysics of our age. Everything is in motion. Everything mechanical has evolved, become better, more efficient, more sophisticated. In this century, automobiles have advanced from the Model T to the BMW, Mercedes, and Rolls Royce. Meanwhile, everything organic—from ourselves to tomatoes—has devolved. We have gone from such giants as Teddy Roosevelt, D. W Griffith, Eugene Debs, Frank Lloyd Wright, Thomas Edison and Albert Michelson to Yuppies. Like the new tomatoes, we lack flavor and juice and taste. Manufactured goods are far more impressive than the people who make them. We are less good, less efficient, and less sophisticated with each passing decade.

People in charge have imposed change rather than inspiring it. We have had far more bosses than leaders, and so, finally, everyone has decided to be his or her own boss. This has led to the primitive, litigious, adversarial society we now live in. As the newscaster in the movie Network said, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore."

What's going on is a middle-class revolution. The poor in America have neither the time nor the energy to revolt. They're just trying to survive in an increasingly hostile world. By the same token, the rich literally reside above the fray—in New York penthouses, Concordes, and sublime ignorance of the world below. The middle class aspires to that same sublime ignorance.

A successful dentist once told me that people become dentists to make a lot of money fast and then go into the restaurant busi

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An Invented Life: Reflections on Leadership and Change
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • An Invented Life - Reflections on Leadership and Change *
  • Contents *
  • Foreword *
  • Preface *
  • 1 - An Invented Life: Shoe Polish, Milli Vanilli, and Sapiential Circles *
  • 2 - Is Democracy Inevitable? *
  • 3 - The Wallenda Factor *
  • 4 - The Coming Death of Bureaucracy *
  • 5 - The Four Competencies of Leadership *
  • 6 - Managing the Dream *
  • 7 - False Grit *
  • 8 - On the Leading Edge of Change *
  • 9 - Searching for the Perfect University President *
  • 10 - When to Resign *
  • 11 - Followership *
  • 12 - Ethics Aren't Optional *
  • 13 - Change: the New Metaphysics *
  • 14 - Meet Me in Macy's Window *
  • 15 - Corporate Boards *
  • 16 - Information Overload Anxiety (and How to Overcome It) *
  • 17 - Our Federalist Future: the Leadership Imperative *
  • Index *
  • Permission Acknowledgments *
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