“Create a compelling vision, one that takes people to a new place, and then translate that vision into a reality.” – Warren Bennis
Born on this date in 1925, Bennis was a scholar, organizational consultant and prolific author, widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of Leadership Studies. He was Founding Chairman of The Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California.
A leader and innovator almost from his earliest days, Bennis grew up in the New York-New Jersey area, was a standout scholar and athlete, and at age 18 became one of the U.S. Army’s youngest World War II officers. Winner of the Bronze Star (for bravery) and Purple Heart, he studied at Ohio’s Antioch College after the war, then went on to earn a Ph.D. at MIT.
His writing career began in the early 1970s after he was named President of the University of Cincinnati. While there he authored two books on leadership: The Leaning Ivory Tower and The Unconscious Conspiracy: Why Leaders Can’t Lead. Bennis, who died in 2014, went to USC in 1979 where he wrote most of his 27 books, including the bestselling Leaders and On Becoming A Leader, both translated into 21 languages. His book, An Invented Life was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
“There are two ways of being creative,” Bennis once said. “One can sing and dance. Or one can create an environment in which singers and dancers flourish. Leaders must encourage their organizations to dance to forms of music yet to be heard.”
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