Leaders | Notes

Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus. Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge. HarperCollins, 2007. (235)



  1. Distinguishing leadership from management
  2. Empowerment
  3. Vision
  4. Trust
  5. Management of meaning

Forward to the Second Edition

…upon rereading the first edition, we found a number of things we feel we should have emphasized more strongly. The French have a phrase for this: l’esprit d’escalier, literally, the spirit of the staircase — the things we wish we had said as we walk down the steps after a meeting. (xi)

Here’s what we want to emphasize.

  1. Leadership is about character. The process of becoming a leader is much the same as becoming an integrated human being. (xi)
  2. To keep organizations competitive, leaders must be instrumental in creating a social architecture capable of generating intellectual capital. (xii)
  3. We cannot exaggerate the significance of a strong determination to achieve a goal or realize a vision — a conviction, even a passion. (xiii) …the purpose has to have meaning and relevance to the followers — or else it’s meaningless. (xiii)
  4. The capacity to generate and sustain trust is the central ingredient in leadership.
  5. True leaders have an uncanny way of enrolling people in their vision through their optimism — sometimes unwarranted optimism. (xv) Confucius said that leaders are “dealers in hope.” (xv)
  6. Leaders have a bias toward action that results in success.

You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky


These are the hard times in which a genius would wish to live. Great necessities call forth great leaders. – Abigail Adams

A New Theory of Leadership

Decades of academic analysis have given us more than 850 definitions of leadership. (4)

Never have so many labored so long to say so little. (4)

Definitions reflect fads, fashions, political tides and academic trends. They don’t always reflect reality and sometimes they just represent nonsense. (4)

The only thing that matters in art is the part that cannot be explained. – [Georges] Braque

Like love, leadership continued to be something everyone knew existed but nobody could define. (5)

The Context of Leadership

All of which has created a managerial mayhem that can be more fully understood only if we examine the leadership environment of today. That can be summarized under three major contexts: commitment, complexity and credibility. (6)

People talk about the decline of the work ethic. …But what really exists is a commitment gap. Leaders have failed to instill vision, meaning and trust in their followers. They have failed to empower them. (7-8)

When a man or a woman opts for leadership and assumes responsibility, he or she also surrenders privacy. (12)

Paradigm Shifts

POWER, the basic energy to initiate and sustain action translating intention into reality, the quality without which leaders cannot lead. (14)

…power is at once the most necessary and most distrusted element exigent to human progress. … Historically leaders have controlled rather than organized, administered repression rather than expression, and held their followers in arrestment rather than in evolution. (15)

Power is the basic energy needed to initiate and sustain action or, to put it another way, the capacity to translate intention into reality and sustain it. Leadership is the wise use of this power: Transformative leadership. (16-17)

Vision is the commodity of leaders, and power is their currency. (17)


Present problems will not be solved without successful organizations , and organizations cannot be successful without effective leadership. Now. | A business short on capital can borrow money, and one with a poor location can move. But a business short on leadership has little chance for survival. (19)

Organizations must be led to overcome their “trained incapacity” and to adapt to changing conditions. (19)

There is a profound difference between management and leadership, and both are important. “To manage” means “to bring about, to accomplish, to have charge of or responsibility for, to conduct.” “Leading” is “influencing, guiding in direction, course, action, opinion.” The distinction is crucial. Managers are people who do things right and leaders are people who do the right things. The difference may be summarized as activities of vision and judgment — effectiveness — versus activities of mastering routines — efficiency. (20)

The Four Strategies

  • Strategy I: attention through vision.
  • Strategy II: meaning through communication.
  • Strategy III: trust through positioning.
  • Strategy IV: the deployment of self through (1) positive self-regard and (2) the Wallenda factor

Leadership seems to be the marshaling of skills possessed by a majority but used by a minority. But it’s something that can be learned by anyone, taught to everyone, denied to no one. (25)

And like fine wine, these competencies are the distilled essence of something much larger — peace, productivity, and perhaps freedom itself. (26)

Strategy I: Attention Through Vision

Management of attention through vision is the creating of focus. (26)

…leadership is also a transaction, a transaction between leaders and followers. Neither could exist without the other. There has to be resonance, a connection between them. So what we discovered is that leaders also pay attention as well as catch it. (30)

Strategy II: Meaning Through Communication

Success requires the capacity to relate a compelling image of a desired state of affairs — the kind of image that induces enthusiasm and commitment in others. (31)

The management of meaning, mastery of communication, is inseparable from effective leadership. (31)

all organizations depend on the existence of shared meanings and interpretations of reality, which facilitate coordinated action. … an essential factor in leadership is the capacity to influence and organize meaning for the members of the organization. (37)

Despite the variations in style, however — whether verbal or nonverbal, whether through words or music — every successful leader is aware that an organization is based on a set of shared meaning that define roles and authority. (37)

…the blueprint which shapes and interprets situations so that the actions of employees are guided by common interpretations of reality. (38)

The distinctive role of leadership (in a volatile environment especially) is the quest for “know-why” ahead of “know-how.” (38)

Lack of clarity makes bureaucracies little more than mechanisms for the evasion of responsibility and guilt. (40)

Communication creates meaning for people. Or should. It’s the only way any group, small or large, can become aligned behind the overarching goals of an organization. Getting the message across unequivocally at every level is an absolute key. Basically it is what the creative process is all about and what, once again, separates the managers from the leaders. (40)

Strategy III: Trust Through Positioning

Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work. …Trust implies accountability, predictability, reliability. It’s what sells products and keeps organizations humming. Trust is the glue that maintains organizational integrity. (41)

Followers do not collect to exhortation, but adhere from example. (42)

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.

Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with great talent.

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.

Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence, determination alone are omnipotent.

– Calvin Coolidge

But organizational integrity is more easily defined than achieved. Part of the problem is the lack of understanding of the various substructures that all organizations, no matter how small, contain. (46)

In order for an organization to have integrity, it must have an identity — that is, a sense of who it is and what it is to do. (47)

Every organization incorporates four concepts of organization; …manifest organization, the one that is seen on the “organizational chart” and is either formally displayed or hidden. It masks as much reality as it is alleged to portray. Then there is the assumed organization, the one that individuals perceive actually to be existing. On occasion, we have asked employees to draw their view of the way things work in order to capture their perceptions. The discrepancy between their view and the official view – -the manifest organization is always dramatic. Thirdly, there is the extant organization, or the situation as revealed through systematic investigation — say, by an organizational consultant who attempts to achieve an “objective look.” Finally, there is the requisite organization, or the organization as it would look if it were in accord with the reality of the situation within which it exists. (48)

It is not necessary that all four concepts be identical. Rather, all four types should be recognized and allowance made for all tensions created by imbalances. (49)

Innovation — any new idea — by definition will not be accepted at first, no matter how sensational the idea may be. If everyone embraced the innovation, it would be difficult to take it seriously — as an innovation. Innovation causes resistance to stiffen, defense to set in, opposition to form. And any new idea looks either foolish or impractical or unfeasible — at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by any organization. This requires staying power, and yes, “courageous patience.” (49)

Strategy IV: The Deployment of Self Through Positive Self-Regard

…leadership is an essential human business. (52)

…the higher the rank, the more interpersonal and human the undertaking. (52)

Our study of effective leaders strongly suggested that a key factor was the creative deployment of self. (52)

Like incompetent physicians, in competent managers can make people sicker and less vital. The word “iatrogenic” may be useful to employ in this respect. It refers to illnesses caused by doctors and hospitals as side effects of medical intervention. Managers, too, can cause as well as cure problems. (53)

…leadership is no less noble or base than the creative (and healthy) use of one’s self. (53)

Recognizing strengths and compensating for weaknesses represent the first step in achieving positive self-regard. (55)

The second element in positive self-regard is the nurturing of skills with discipline–that is to keep working on and developing one’s talents. (55)

…the third aspect of positive self-regard, the capacity to discern the fit between one’s perceived skills and what the job requires. (56-57)

We can sum up what we mean by positive self-regard. It consists of three major components: knowledge of one’s strengths, the capacity to nurture and develop those strengths and the ability to discern the fit between one’s strengths and weaknesses and the organization’s needs. (57-58)

Individuals who possess it are good at their jobs; they have the requisite skills. They enjoy their work; it satisfies their basic needs and motives. And, finally, they are proud of their work; it reflects their value system. (58)

…people love others not for who they are, but for how they make us feel. We willingly follow others for much the same reason. – Irwin Federman

Our individual potential is a direct derivative of our self-esteem. Which means we feel good about ourselves. If we come to regard ourselves more highly, then we come to expect more of ourselves … This growth process results in more aggressive goals, greater expectations and hence more impressive achievements. If you believe what I’m saying, you cannot help but come to the conclusions that those you have followed passionately, gladly, zealously — have made you feel like somebody. It was not merely because they had the job, or the power…it somehow made you feel terrific to be around them. – Irwin Federman

Positive self-regard is related to maturity, but we’d prefer the phrase “emotional wisdom” to “maturity.”

Emotional wisdom, as we’ve come to understand it, reflects itself in the way people relate to others. In the case of our ninety leaders, they used five key skills:

  1. The ability to accept people as they are, not as you would like them to be.
  2. The capacity to approach relationships and problems in terms of the present rather than the past.
  3. The ability to treat those who are close to you with the same courteous attention that you extend to strangers and casual acquaintances.
  4. The ability to trust others, even if the risk seems great.
  5. The ability to do without constant approval and recognition from others.

It’s a way of developing, perhaps, an atmosphere of excellence, of greatness. (63)

Being on the tightrope is living; everything else is waiting. – Karl Wallenda, 1968

[the Wallenda factor is] the capacity to embrace positive goals, to pour one’s energies into the task, not into looking behind and dredging up excuses for past events. (66)

The tension here, integrated by these leaders, is that of failure versus learning. While we can’t say that they exactly hailed failure, they certainly seemed to profit from it. They used the energy springing from paradox to reach higher goals. Almost every “false step” was regarded as an opportunity and not as the end of the world. They were convinced that they could learn — and, more important, that their organizations could learn — how to succeed at whatever they undertook as their vision. (67)

Criticism is a frequent by-product of significant actions. Receptivity to criticism is as necessary as it is loathsome. It tests the foundations of positive self-regard as does nothing else. And the more valid the criticism, the more difficult it is to receive. (68)

…those who respond to failure of others by anger are themselves slaves to passion and learn nothing. [Baruch Spinoza] (70)

Although leading is a “job” for which leaders are handsomely paid, where their rewards come from — and what they truly value — is a sense of adventure and play. (70)

The Wallenda factor is primarily concerned with one’s perception of the outcome of the event. (71)

Wallenda Factor (Outcome Judgment)








Career Change


 Effective Leadership








 For successful leadership to occur there has to be a fusion between positive self-regard and optimism about a desired outcome. (73)

Empowerment: The Dependent Variable

[Leaders] empower others to translate intention into reality and sustain it. (74)

Effective leaders will ultimately reap the human harvest of their efforts by the simple action of power’s reciprocal: empowerment. (74)



COMMUNITY | We’re not talking necessarily about a matter of “liking” one another. Rather, it is a sense of reliance on one another toward a common cause that we have in mind. (77)

ENJOYMENT or just plain FUN

Plan for Implementation

The important thing to keep in mind in the remainder of the book is that nothing serves an organization better — especially during times of agonizing doubts and uncertainties — than leadership that knows what it wants, communicates those intentions, positions itself correctly, and empowers its workforce. But though these laws sound simple, their implementation requires certain skills. (79)


How do leaders know what is important for the future of their organizations, and how do they choose the new directions? (82)

Vision and Organizations

To choose a direction, a leader must first have developed a mental image of a possible and desirable future state of the organization. This image, which we call a vision, may be as vague as a dream or as precise as a goal or mission statement. The critical point is that a vision articulates a view of the realistic, credible, attractive future for the organization, a condition that is better in some important ways than what now exists. (82)

A shared vision of the future also suggest measures of effectiveness for the organization and for all its parts. (i4)

…it makes it possible to distribute decision making widely. (85)

Thus, in a very real sense, individual behavior can be shaped, directed, and coordinated by a shared and empowering vision of the future. (85)

By focusing attention on a vision, the leader operates on the emotional and spiritual resources of the organization, on its capital, human skills, raw materials and technology. (85)

Paying Attention: The Leader’s Search for Vision

Historians tend to write about great leaders as if they possessed transcendent genius, as if they were capable of creating their visions and sense of destiny out of some mysterious inner resource. Perhaps some do, but upon closer examination it usually turns out that the vision did not originate with the leader personally but rather from others. (88)

Synthesizing Vision: The Leader’s Choice for Direction

Leaders require foresighthindsighta worldviewdepth perception…peripheral vision…revision… Beyond this, decisions must be made about the appropriate time horizon to address, the simplicity or complexity of the image, the extent to which it will represent continuity with the past as opposed to a radical transformation, the degree of optimism or pessimism it will contain, its realism and credibility, and its potential impact on the organization. (95)

If there is a spark of genius in the leadership function at all, it must lie in this transcending ability, a kind of magic, to assemble — out of all the variety of images, signals, forecasts and alternatives — a clearly articulated vision of the future that is at once simple, easily understood, clearly desirable, and energizing. (95)

Your own values will determine which alternatives you seriously consider and the way they are evaluated. (96)

Focusing Attention: The Leader’s Search for Commitment

The leader’s basic philosophy must be : We have seen what this organization can be, we understand the consequences of that vision, and now we must act to make it so.” (99)

We have found in our discussions with leaders that visions can often be communicated best by metaphors, or models… (100)

A vision of the future is not offered once and for all by the leader and then allowed to fade away. It must be repeated time and time again. (101)


Above and beyond his envisioning capabilities, a leader must be a social architect who understands the organization and shapes the way it works. (102)

…social architecture presents a shared interpretation of organizational events, so that members know how they are expected to behave. It also generates a commitment to the primary organizational values and philosophy — that is, the vision that employees feel they are working for and can believe in. Finally, an organization’s social architecture serves as a control mechanism, sanctioning or proscribing particular kinds of behavior. (104)

In our experience, the reasons so many experiments in organizational change fail is that the leaders have failed to take into account the strong undertow of cultural forces. (106)

Three Styles of Social Architecture

The major elements that define an organization’s social architecture are its origins; its basic operating principle; the nature of its work; the management of information, decision making and power; influence; and status. These elements characterize three distinct organizational types — the collegial, personalistic and formalistic — which we will review below. (110)

A Collegial Organization

The decision-making style is participative and encourages a “bottom-up” flow of ideas aimed at generating consensus around all issues. This means that all people who effect or are affected by a decision have a say in the decision. (111-112)

Power, influence, and status are based on peer recognition… (112)

The Personalistic Style

…success is primarily based on a considered strategy of building trust between employees and owners.

The Formalistic Style

The leader, as social architect, must be part artists, part designer, part master craftsman, facing the challenge of aligning the elements of the social architecture so that, like an ideal building, it becomes a creative synthesis uniquely suited to realizing the guiding vision of the leader. | Social architecture, as we have continually emphasized, provides meaning. (128)

Tools of the Social Architect





Basis for decision Direction from authority Discussion, agreement Directions from within
Forms of control Rules, Laws, rewards, punishments Interpersonal, group commitments Actions aligned with self-concept
Source of power Superior What “we” think and feel What I think and feel
Desired end Compliance Consensus Self-Actualization
To be avoided Deviation from authoritative direction; taking risks Failure to reach consensus Not being “true to oneself”
Position relative to others Hierarchical Peer Individual
Human relationships Structured Group-oriented Individually oriented
Basis for growth Following the established order Peer group membership Acting on awareness of self

 For a successful transformation to be achieved, three things have to happen — and these principles apply equally to each and every one of the three styles just described:

  1. Create a new and compelling vision capable of bringing the workforce to a new place.
  2. Develop commitment for the new vision.
  3. Institutionalize the new vision.

At the least, the vision has to be articulated clearly and frequently in a variety of ways, from “statements of policy” that have minimum impact to revising recruiting aims and methods, training that is explicitly geared to modify behavior in support of new organizational values, and, not the least, adapting and modifying shared symbols that signal and reinforce the new vision. (133)

Changing the Social Architecture

The leader is an effective social architect to the extent that he can manage meaning. … Doing that, however, seems to be both obvious and mysterious. But if there is one lesson that emerges from our analysis of the best practices in this complex area, it appears to stem from leaders doing a lot of fairly simple and obvious things well. This is said in no way to minimize or trivialize the difficulties in mastering social architecture, but in retrospect it does seem that our effective leaders all apply common sense. (136)


Fail to honor people,
They fail to honor you;
But of a good leader, who talks little,
When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
They will all say, “We did this ourselves.”


Trust is the emotional glue that binds followers and leaders together. The accumulation of trust is a measure of the legitimacy of leadership. It cannot be mandated or purchased, it must be earned. (142)

One thing we can say for sure about trust is that if trust is to be generated, there must be predictability, the capacity to predict another’s behavior. … The ability to predict outcomes with a high probability of success generates and maintains trust. (142)

Organizations and Their Environments

Abrupt environmental change can cause the death of an organization just as easily as it can for any other organism that has insufficient time to adapt. … However, there are some differences between human organizations and other organisms in this regard. The first is that the environments of organizations are much more complex than natural environments because they contain both physical and man-made elements. In contrast to physical environments, man-made elements tend to be irregular, non-recurring, irrational, and unpredictable. (146)

In most natural systems, change occurs very slowly and is often measured in thousands of years. In human systems, change can occur very rapidly. As a result, nothing is more important to modern organizations than their effectiveness in coping with change. … Whereas other organisms change as a result of natural selection, organizations change as a result of specific choices that they make themselves. (149)

There are four main strategies that leaders choose (sometimes unwittingly) in order to position their organization:

1. Reactive. A reactive mode is the least expensive (and often the most shortsighted) strategy; it may occasionally work, but only in slowly changing environments that allow enough lead time to react. (151-152)

2. Change the internal environment. Rather than waiting for change to happen to them, leaders can develop effective forecasting procedures to anticipate change and then “proact” rather than react. (152)

3. Change the external environment. This approach requires that the organization anticipating change act upon the environment itself to make the change congenial to its needs, much as the opening movement of a symphony creates an environment that is receptive to the later movements. (153)

4. Establish a new linkage between the external and internal environments. Using this mechanism, an organization anticipating change will attempt to establish a new relationship between its internal environments and anticipated external environments. (154)

QUEST for Position

Lessons for Leadership

1. All leaders face the challenge of overcoming resistance to change. People will resist change if they don’t understand its purpose, if it causes too much uncertainty or disruption or if they feel it will affect them or the organization adversely. … Effective leaders, including most of those in our panel, learned early in their careers that it was far better to secure voluntary commitment to changes through open communication, participation and mutual trust. (172)

2. The positioning decision aims at building a new community of common interests, shared circumstances and mutual trust. (173)

3. The leader is responsible for the set of ethics or norms that govern the behavior of people in the organization. (173)

Leaders set the moral tone by choosing carefully the people with whom they surround themselves, by communicating a sense of purpose for the organization, by reinforcing appropriate behaviors and by articulating these moral positions to external and internal constituencies. | In the end, trust, integrity and positioning are all different faces of a common property of leadership — the ability to integrate those who must act with that which must be done so that it all comes together as a single organism in harmony with itself and its niche in the environment. (174)


We are all afraid — for our confidence, for the future, for the world. This is the nature of the human imagination. Yet every man, every civilization, has gone forward because of its engagement with what it has set itself to do. the personal commitment of a man to his skill, the intellectual commitment and the emotional commitment working together as one, has made the Ascent of Man. – Jacob Bronowski

When we asked our ninety leaders about the personal qualities they needed to run their organizations, they never mentioned charisma, or dressing for success, or time management or any of the other lib formulas that pass for wisdom in the popular press. Instead, they talked about persistence and self-knowledge; about willingness to take risks and accept losses; about commitment, consistency and challenge. But, above all, they talked about learning. (176)

Very simply, those who do not learn do not long survive as leaders. (176)

Leaders have discovered not just how to learn but how to learn in an organizational context. They are able to concentrate on what matters most to the organization and to use the organization as a learning environment. …a set of skills that Donald Michael calls “the new competence,” which he identifies as follows:

  1. Acknowledging and sharing uncertainty
  2. Embracing error
  3. Responding to the future
  4. Becoming interpersonally competent (e.g., listening, nurturing, coping with value conflicts, etc.)
  5. Gaining self-knowledge.

But still more important, and the factor that really differentiates leadership learning from other types of learning, is the role of the leader in organizational learning, the management of the collective self. (177)

The Learning Organization

Organizational learning is the process by which an organization obtains and uses new knowledge, tools, behaviors, and values. (178)

Maintenance learning is the acquisition of fixed outlooks, methods, and rules for dealing with known and recurring situations. (180)

Innovative learning is more difficult because it focuses on preparing organizations for action in new situations, requiring the anticipation of environments that have not yet appeared. … Innovative learning deals with emerging issues… (181)

Innovative Learning

Six especially powerful modes of organizational learning are discussed briefly below.

1: Reinterpretation of history. (182)

2: Experimentation. (183)

3: Analogous organizations.  …by observing the experiences of other similar organizations. (184)

4: Analytical processes. …a conscious process of analyzing trends in the external environment, identifying emerging issues, and designing new ways to cope with those issues. (185)

5: Training and education. (186) While much of this training is intended to improve individual skills, an increasing proportion is devoted to team building and group learning experiences. (187)

6: Unlearning. …discarding of old knowledge when actions by the organization clash with changed reality in the external environment. (188)

With effective organizational learning, judgment improves over time, conventional assumptions are continually being challenged and deeper level of understanding of both the environment and the organization’s role in it are constantly being achieved. (189)

Leading the Learning Organization

Leaders can energize learning behavior by rewarding it when it happens. (192)

Organizing for Innovative Learning

While the leader provides the stimulus and focus for innovative learning, some organizations, like some children, are learning-handicapped. They just seem to be so rigid and inflexible that nothing less than a major crisis can change them. That’s the bad news. The good news is that leaders can redesign organizations to become more receptive to learning. They can do this by designing open organizations that are both participative and anticipative. (195)

An open organization is one that is designed to have constant, intense interactions with its external environments and to respond quickly and flexibly to new information. (195)


What these two leaders refer to as either “magic” or “alignment” is the epiphany of effective leadership: leaders as catalysts, leaders capable of deploying their ideas and themselves into some consonance and thereby committing themselves to a greater risk — the exposure and intimacy that most of us emotionally yearn for, rhetorically defend, but in practice shun. At their best, these leaders — a fairly disparate group in many superficial ways — commit themselves to a common enterprise and are resilient enough to absorb the conflicts; brave enough, now and then, to be transformed by its accompanying energies; and capable of sustaining a vision that encompasses the whole organization. The organization finds its greatest expression in the consciousness of a common social responsibility, and that is to translate that vision into a living reality. | This is “transformative leadership…”(201-202)

Leadership is “causative,” meaning that leadership can invent and create institutions that can empower employees to satisfy their needs. Leadership is morally purposeful and elevating, which means, if nothing else, that leaders can, through deploying their talents, choose purposes and visions that are based on the key values of the workforce and create the social architecture that supports them. Finally, leadership can move followers to higher degrees of consciousness, such as liberty, freedom, justice and self-actualization. (203)

Management Education

The world is far more fascinatingly complex than the straight linear thinking that dominates so much of what passes or management education: the nature of the problem itself is often in question, the information (and its reliability) is problematical, there are multiple and conflicting interpretations and different value orientations, the goals are unclear and conflicting, and we could go on and on. The point is that most management education makes certain assumptions that are dangerously misleading — namely, that the goals are clear, alternatives known, technology and its consequences certain and perfect information available. It sounds terrifyingly similar to the courses in microeconomics on which, unfortunately, so much of management education is based. (205)

Dispelling Myths

Myth 1: Leadership is a rare skill.

Myth 2: Leaders are born, not made.

Myth 3: Leaders are charismatic. Our guess is that it operates in the other direction; that is, charisma is the result of effective leadership, not the other way around, and that those who are good at it are granted a certain amount of respect and even awe by their followers, which increases the bond of attraction between them. (208)

Myth 4: Leadership exists only at the top of an organization.

Myth 5: The leader controls, directs, prods, manipulates. …leadership is not so much the exercise of power itself as the empowerment of others. (209)

…the essence of leadership is the capacity to build and develop the self-esteem of the workers. – Irwin Federman

Myth 6: The leader’s sole job is to increase shareholder value. For real leaders, then, making a profit is a requirement, not a vision or goal; nor does it animate or empower the workforce. (211)

Toward a New Millennium

It isn’t enough to be on the right track. If you aren’t moving, you can still get hit by a train. – Will Rogers


Lord, we’re not what we want to be, we’re not what we need to be, we’re not what we are going to be, but thank God Almighty, we’re not what we used to be.

It will no longer be enough for leaders to issue pious platitudes about innovation while they eviscerate their research departments. Slogans of the week just won’t cut it. Leaders will have to be architects and cheerleaders for change — true visionaries who are able to point to destinations that are so desirable and credible that workers will enthusiastically sign on to become partners in making it happen. (215)

In the end, the leaders who succeed best will be those who are best able to (1) set direction during turbulent times; (2) manage change while still providing exceptional customer service and quality; (3) attract resources and forge new alliances to accommodate new constituencies; (4) harness diversity on a global scale; (5) inspire a sense of optimism, enthusiasm and commitment among their followers; and (6) be a leader of leaders, especially regarding knowledge workers. Leadership in the twenty-first century is not a job for wimps; but then, it never was. (216)

Likely Model of Twenty-First-Century Leadership



Few leaders, mainly at the top; many mangers Leaders at every level; fewer managers
Leading by goal-setting; e.g., near-term profits, ROI Leading by vision – creating new directions for long-term business growth
Downsizing, benchmarking for low cost, high quality Also creating domains of uniqueness, distinctive competencies
Reactive/adaptive to change Anticipative/futures-creative
Designer of hierarchical organizations Designer of flatter, distributed, more collegial organizations; leader as social architect
Directing and supervising individuals Empower and inspiring individuals, but also facilitating teamwork
Information held by few decision makers Information shared with many, both internally and with outside partners
Leader as boss, controlling processes and behaviors Leader as coach, creating learning organizations
Leader as stabilizer, balancing conflicting demands and maintaining the culture Leader as change agent, creating agenda for change, balancing risks and evolving the culture and the technology base
Leader responsible for developing good managers Leader also responsible for developing future leaders; serving as leader of leaders



A Final Note

…all happy families resemble each other while each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way – Leo Tolstoy

We must raise the search for new leadership to a national priority. We desperately need women and men who can take charge, and we hope that you, the reader, will be among them. What can be more consequential and inspiriting? (220)

About VIA


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