Read On Becoming a Leader: The Leadership Classic Revised and Updated by Warren G. Bennis Free Online
Book Title: On Becoming a Leader: The Leadership Classic Revised and Updated|
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Reader ratings: 3.9
The author of the book: Warren G. Bennis
Edition: Your Coach Digital
Date of issue: October 11th 2010
ISBN 13: 9781596596832
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 726 KB
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Bennis discusses the importance of reflection as a tool for excellent leadership throughout his book On becoming a leader: The leadership classic (2003). I was particularly interested in his insight on reflection because it seems that few leaders have time to luxuriate in quiet time for reflection. After reading this book I see the importance of taking time to listen to one's inner voice. Bennis states that the most important lesson of leadership is learning to trust the inner voice (p. 28). He also states that reflection is one of the four lessons of self-knowledge (p. 50). To explain what reflection means to him, Bennis tells his readers to "think of reflection and perspective as two horns, with synthesis balanced between them. (p. 129)."
One benefit of reflection is that leaders become more self-aware and begin to separate who they are and where they want to go from where others want them to go (p. 48). This is important because in our roles as administrators we are expected to step in and fill certain responsibilities that have been filled by leaders before us. The faculty has certain ideas about how we should act and think. It would make administrator's lives easier at times if we allowed ourselves to morph into the mold that is set for us rather than blazing a new path. Bennis, however, explains that excellent leaders must be willing to take the path less traveled in order to effect positive change.
When reading this book I was concerned about methods of reflection. I was apprehensive and thought I would need to seek guidance on thoughtful and purposeful self-reflection. Bennis gave some direction by suggesting that leaders have a Socratic dialogue with oneself and ask questions about the nature of the issues we face (p. 54). He simplified the process of self-awareness by explaining that leaders have to ask questions that create an understanding of themselves (p. 55).
Bennis addressed the importance of reflection as a way to take in the "big picture" of situations that surround us. He used a quote from Socrates that says "The unexamined life is not worth living" and elaborates that one cannot live successfully unless they are able to reflect on situations and understand the "big picture" of their life (p. 62). I thought his statements regarding freeing oneself from past mistakes by using Socratic inquiry were powerful. As a leader it is inevitable that we will make mistakes. Bennis suggests that reflection is a tool that allows us to move past our mistakes and become free to take future risks without feeling an urge to prove ourselves (p. 70). He urges leaders to not allow their past to constrain them and keep them from reaching their full potential. Leaders must understand what has actually happened and in situations and try to learn from them instead of allowing them to paralyze them (p. 90).
My new understanding of reflection has helped me realize that I must try to learn from the past by taking time to digest and ponder situations. Reflection should not be something that a leader does on vacation or when a huge crisis has happened. Reflection should be a ritual in the life of a leader and a tool that one uses to gain understanding and knowledge.
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Read information about the authorWarren Gamaliel Bennis is an American scholar, organizational consultant and author, widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of Leadership Studies. 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.