July 28th, 2012 Warren Bennis
Warren Gameliel Bennis (born March 8, 1925) is an American scholar, organizational consultant and author who is widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of leadership studies. Warren Bennis is University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business Administration and Founding Chairman of The Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California.
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, management expert Tom Peters wrote in 1993 in the foreword to Bennis An Invented Life: Reflections on Leadership and Change.
Management expert James O'Toole, in a 2005 issue of Compass, published by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, claimed that Bennis developed an interest in a then-nonexistent field that he would ultimately make his own — leadership — with the publication of his "Revisionist Theory of Leadership" in Harvard Business Review in 1961. O'Toole observed that Bennis challenged the prevailing wisdom by showing that humanistic, democratic-style leaders better suited to dealing with the complexity and change that characterize the leadership environment.
Bennis grew up within a working-class Jewish family in Westwood, New Jersey, before enlisting in 1943 in the United States Army. He would go on to serve as the Army's youngest infantry officer in the European theater of operations, and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
He enrolled in Antioch College in 1947 following his military service. Antioch president Douglas McGregor, considered one of the founders of the modern democratic management philosophy, would take on Bennis as a prot, a scholarly relationship that would prove fruitful when both later served as professors at the MIT Sloan School of Management. There, Bennis would hold the post of chairman of the Organizational Studies Department.
Within the area of management, Bennis sought to move from theory to practice in 1967, taking the post of provost of the State University of New York at Buffalo and the presidency of the University of Cincinnati in 1971. He authored two books on leadership during his presidency: The Leaning Ivory Tower, 1973, and The Unconscious Conspiracy: Why Leaders Can't Lead, 1976.
Bennis chose to return to the life of a teacher, consultant and author following a heart attack in 1979, joining the faculty of the University of Southern California. Most of the best-known of his 27 books followed, including the bestselling Leaders and On Becoming A Leader, both translated into 21 languages. An Invented Life was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. More recent books, Organizing Genius, 1997, Co-Leaders, 1999, and Managing The Dream, 2000, summarize Bennis' interests in leadership, judgment, organizational change and creative collaboration. Geeks & Geezers, 2002, examines the differences and similarities between leaders thirty years and younger and leaders seventy years and older.
Warren Bennis spent time as an adviser to four United States presidents and several other public figures, and has also consulted for numerous FORTUNE 500 companies. He has also spent time on the faculties of Harvard and Boston University and taught at the Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta, INSEAD and IMD. In addition to his current posts at USC, Bennis serves as chairman of the Advisory Board of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University Kennedy School. He is a visiting professor of leadership at the University of Exeter (UK) and a senior fellow at UCLA's School of Public Policy and Social Research.
Impact of Warren Bennis
Bennis' impact on the fields of leadership and management theory is significant. The Wall Street Journal named him as one of the top ten speakers on management in 1993; Forbes magazine referred to him as the "dean of leadership gurus" in 1996. The Financial Times referred to Bennis in 2000 as "the professor who established leadership as a respectable academic field."
Some Books of Warren Bennis
An Invented Life: Reflections on Leadership and Change. (1993) (All quotes above are from the introductory essay, "An Invented Life: Shoe Polish, Milli Vanilli, and Sapiential Circles.")
Learning to Lead: A Workbook on Becoming a Leader (1997) with Joan Goldsmith
Managing People Is Like Herding Cats: Warren Bennis on Leadership (1997)
On Becoming a Leader (1994)
Organizing Genius : The Secrets of Creative Collaboration (1998) with Patricia Ward Biederman
The Corporate Culture Survival Guide (1999)
The Temporary Society (1998) with Philip E. Slater
Why Leaders Can't Lead: The Unconscious Conspiracy Continues (1997)