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On Becoming a Leader Paperback – March 3, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0465014088 ISBN-10: 0465014089 Edition: Fourth Edition, Fourth Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Fourth Edition, Fourth Edition edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465014089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465014088
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Warren Bennis is Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the University of Southern California and a consultant to multinational companies and governments throughout the world. He is the author of dozens of articles and over thirty books on leadership, including Learning to Lead and Organizing Genius. He lives in Santa Monica, California.

More About the Author

Warren Bennis (Los Angeles, CA), born in 1925, is an American scholar, organizational consultant and author, who is widely regarded as the pioneer of the contemporary field of leadership. He is University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the University of Southern California. In the past decade, he served as chairman of the Advisory Board of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, working with David Gergen.
Bennis has consulted for many Fortune 500 companies and served as adviser to four U.S. presidents. He has served on the faculty of MIT's Sloan School of Management and was Chairman of the Organizational Studies Department. He is a former faculty member of Boston University, former Provost and Executive Vice President of State University of New York at Buffalo and President of the University of Cincinnati. His global experience includes teaching at the Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta, INSEAD, the London Business School, and IMEDE (now IMD). In 2007, Business Week called him one of ten business school professors who have had the greatest influence on business thinking. He has received 20 honorary degrees and has served on numerous boards of advisors.
Bennis has written or edited 30 books, which have been translated into 21 languages, and many articles on three of his passions-leadership, organizational change, and creative collaboration. The Financial Times recently named Leaders as one of the top 50 business books of all time.
Bennis is proud of the four years he served in the U.S. Army, 1943-1947. At the age of 19 he was one of the youngest infantry commanders in Germany and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. His dream remains: to write a terrific one-act play.

Customer Reviews

Very well written.
Con
I read this book as a recommendation from a former boss whose best leadership skill was the ability to intimidate the hell out of all his employees.
Janet M. Dillingham
Johnson didn't start the Vietnam war; he got stuck in that quagmire and that destroyed him.
R. Pokkyarath

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By L. Story on February 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I chose this book based on my reading of The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership by Steve Sample (a great book). Unfortunately, I could barely make it through this book. The few phrases of inspiration needed to be mined from pages of unorganized and misplaced vignettes about "leaders". Mr. Bennis begins with a sound set of leadership attributes, but loses focus along the way by adding more and more of what I would call "bullet points of leadership". I think he needs a good editor to help find a focus and stick with it. It is too bad, I think there is some good stuff in there. Good luck finding it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Janet M. Dillingham on April 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
I read this book as a recommendation from a former boss whose best leadership skill was the ability to intimidate the hell out of all his employees. The intensity of his icy stare made an underling feel like he could see through your soul and to all the souls of your families prior generations.

He was absolutely terrifying, but he was also fair, and intensely interested in developing talent.

I would never in a million years work for him again, as this particular business was not my real vocation, but the kindness and insight that my former boss showed by recommending this book to a very small fish (me) in a huge organization as a good book to read on a long plane ride to Japan was especially spot on. As well as this book. On Becoming a Leader is an excellent treatise on the definition and practical theory of basic leadership, easy to read, and inspirational beyond the normal drivel spouting to be the ultimate on the subject of leadership. This book IS THE book for the budding leader, of a small business, large corporation, or a family.

I highly recommend it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By FT on August 10, 2013
Format: Paperback
Like most business books you really only need to read an outline or a list of the maxims to get the point.

Especially the beginning where the author tediously paints a bleak picture of the moral state of the U.S. ostensibly to convince the reader of the leadership vacuum of the current time.

Also, the author simplistically proclaims certain historical figures leaders and other not. For example, he calls JFK a leader, and Clinton not. The difference being Clinton's moral failings. This seems to ignore JFK's record of philandering and opioid dependence.

Using phrases like "new economy" makes the book sounded dated at times.

That aside, I think there are some gems for the patient reader or those who can skim effectively.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Omar Halabieh on June 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As the tile indicates, this is a book on leadership development - "the hows: how people become leaders, how they lead, and how organizations encourage or stifle potential leaders." The premise upon which this book is based is best put by Warren himself - "...leaders are people who are able to express themselves fully. By this I mean that they know who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how to fully deploy their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. They also know what they want, why they want it, and how to communicate what they want to others, in order to gain their cooperation and support. Finally, they know how to achieve their goals. The key to full self-expression is understanding one's self and the world, and the key to understanding is learning - from one's own life and experience."

The book then goes on to further elaborate on each of the areas highlighted above. The key differentiator between this and other leadership books is that this one promotes unleashing leadership from within, rather than describe what a person should strive to be. To me, this is the only way to develop sustainable authentic leaders. Another area of focus is that of experience. Warren stresses the importance of experience as the primary and ultimate development vehicle for leaders. Education is all its forms is important - but does not substitute the need for experience whether successes or failures. The book brings to life all of the aspects discussed through the stories of many successful leaders from a variety of sectors.

A must read in the area of leadership and personal development!
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By nvrl8 on January 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first two chapters are a bit slow (for me) but then chapter three grabs you and you can't put it down! I love this book and will keep it forever. Sorry, Amazon, you're not getting this one back!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By TheDescendant on January 9, 2013
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Bennis' book contains some very thought-provoking and certainly actionable suggestions for leadership improvement. However, I found myself constantly disgusted at the overt biased and smug political commentary woven throughout the book. I paid the purchase price to be educated, not editorialized. Caveat Emptor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tyger Wen on May 14, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rather than teach you how to become a leader, this book teaches you how to deploy yourself and express yourself. Real leaders do not set out to be leaders, but they set out to express themselves fully. The repetitive themes in this books are mainly learning from failures (which sounds cliche, but Bennis used valid real life examples to examine and stress the point, making the idea engrave in your mind), listening to your inner voice, expressing yourself fully.
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