“Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not on the periphery.” So says Warren Bennis, who is considered to be one of the leading experts on leadership. And it could be said that if you’re an expert on leadership, you should be a leading one else you wouldn’t have any followers, in which case, you may not be a leader and your expertise would be in jeopardy. There could be entire essays full of quotes from Bennis, who has spent probably six decades discussing leadership. “People who cannot invent and reinvent themselves must be content with borrowed postures, secondhand ideas, fitting in instead of standing out.” And, “Leaders must encourage their organizations to dance to forms of music yet to be heard.” Presumably, we can all name at least a few organizations that dance.
Looking ahead, Bennis believes future leaders will be those who best understand people. The first step to this is to understand oneself. “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself.” As he sees it, those who understand themselves will also be more comfortable engaging in open communication with others in the organization, thus building trust. Trust is at the foundation of consistently and reliably meeting customer expectations. Additionally, a good leader is an optimist who believes that obstacles are meant to be conquered. Such a leader is Intel’s Andrew Grove who though he grew up in dire circumstances, believed that he could win the Nobel Prize. And finally, “There are two ways of being creative. One can sing and dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish.”
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