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Learning To Lead: A Workbook On Becoming A Leader, Updated Edition

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Warren Bennis

Doug Willmore, Chief Administrative Officer, Salt Lake County   “Learning to Lead is one of the finest books for leaders that I have ever had the opportunity to read. Grounded in proven theory, yet written in action, Bennis and Goldsmith … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Cafe Libri
Author: Warren Bennis
Publisher: Basic Books
1 review about Learning To Lead: A Workbook On Becoming...

A Life-Long Exploration of Self

  • May 7, 2001
The late Vince Lombardi once asserted that leaders are made -- they are not born. "And they are made just like anything else that has ever been made in this country -- by hard effort and that's the price we all have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal." Bennis and Goldsmith agree. Theirs is literally a WORK book. The material is organized within these seven chapters:

Leadership for a Successful Future ["Followers, who are often partners in an endeavor, look to leaders to interpret reality, explain the present, and paint a picture of the future."]

How to Use This Workbook ["We are introducing a different path to leadership development -- one that has twists and turns. It may not take a reader on a direct route to a finite end-place."]

The Leadership Crisis ["Where have all the leaders gone?...In the past two decades, there has been a high turnover, an appalling mortality -- both occupational and actuarial -- among leaders."]

Knowing Yourself ["If we have a clear awareness of who we are, we can develop the habit of staying tuned to what we say and do."]

NOTE: Bennis and Goldsmith agree with Shakespeare's Polonius ("To thine ownself be true") as does James O'Toole who, in The Executive's Compass and in Leading Change, has much of value to say on the subject of congruence of values and behavior.

Creating and Communicating a Vision ["Vision animates, inspirits, and transforms purpose into action."]

Managing Trust Through Integrity ["The leader has a vision for the organization that is clear, attractive, and attainable....has unconditional empathy for for those who live in the organization.....the leader's positions are consistent....and the leader's integrity is unquestionable."]

Realizing Intention Through Action [Those who would be leaders "need to know where you begin and where you want to go....flesh out those routes, elaborate them, revise them, and map them, complete with possible pitfalls and traps as well as rewards"....also you must "look to see if the direct route is the most sound, or whether you should make a more circuitous approach....you plan your resources and identify your allies....examine your map objectively, as if you were not its maker....Finally, when you have finished the strategy, you set out to climb the mountain."]

The authors share a wealth of their own observations and suggestions in each of the seven chapters. What sets this book apart from others which address similar subjects is its inclusion of dozens of exercises for the reader to complete within the (WORK) book. The reader is also provided with "Books on Leadership: An Annotated Bibliography" prepared by Emmeline de Pillis, Anthony Khoo, and Hyepin Im. To their excellent suggestions I would add Tichy's The Leadership Engine because, as Goldsmith observes, "Our book proposes that in our world of startling changes and overwhelming challenges, leadership is needed at every level and in every nook and corner of our organizations. We can only have the leadership we need if individuals are encouraged, motivated and supported to create themselves as leaders on a day by day basis." I also recommend Fitz-enz's The ROI of Human Capital because, without effective leadership, no organization can possibly derive greatest benefit from its most valuable asset. Again quoting Goldsmith, "The insights, theories, exercises, and tools included within our book guide leadership explorations and discoveries by staff, managers and executives at all levels of their organizations and in all areas of their lives."

For whom will this excellent book be most helpful? First, for senior-level executives who are already leaders of others and feel the need for what could perhaps be called a "tune-up" of basic principles. Also, for those who aspire to be leaders and are willing and able to complete the exercises with both rigor and (more importantly) candor. Finally, for students of business now in preparation for careers which may soon begin. (This book would be an excellent holiday or graduation gift.) Bennis and Goldsmith conclude as follows: "We hope you will continue to develop what you have begun in the learning partnership we have created here together. We look forward to knowing you more directly in the future. Empowerment leads to quality and ultimately to love of ourselves, of our work, and of life. More we cannot wish you." Nor can I.

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