- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; 4 edition (March 3, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465014089
- ISBN-13: 978-0465014088
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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On Becoming a Leader 4th Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The format becomes a bit tedious, and some of the examples he uses are very weak in making his point about leadership. He seems fixated on the idea of reinvention, and that one must reinvent himself in order to truly find himself and thus truly be a leader. He gives the impression that only those who suffered sad, insular childhoods are good leaders because they've developed an inner strength and sense of self upon which to draw. People who have relatively easily assimilated into society and a profession are, in contrast, just living out the desires of their parents and society and so they are not truly expressing themselves or deploying themselves to the fullest. This part of the argument is a bit over the top.
The other part of the book that comes off the rails is when he essentially asserts that any education other than a liberal arts one is devoid of creativity and a waste of your time. But don't worry all you doctors, engineers, scientists...there's hope for you because you can still learn the arts on your own to unlock your true creativity. This is obviously complete nonsense, and I'm surprised it made it through editing. Creating novel, elegant solutions to problems in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine are some of the most creative feats of human history. To cast them aside as useless compared to courses in art history is incredibly myopic.
Becoming a leader isn’t easy, just as becoming a doctor or a poet isn’t easy, and those who claim otherwise are fooling themselves. But learning to lead is a lot easier than most of us think it is, because each of us contains the capacity for leadership. …
At bottom, becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It’s precisely that simple, and it’s also that difficult. So let’s get started.”
~ Warren Bennis from On Becoming a Leader
Warren Bennis is one of the world’s leading authorities on leadership.
This is, as Peter Drucker puts it, his “most important book.”
I initially read this book nearly 20 years ago when I first became a leader. As a 25-year-old founder/CEO who raised $5 million as part of the dot com boom of the late 90’s, I led a startup that went from 2 to 45 employees in less than 9 months (and then, after hiring the CEO of adidas to replace me as the young CEO, when the market crashed in 2000, we went from 45+ to 15 employees as we worked with an investment bank to sell the business to one of our two competitors who had raised 10x the money we had). My learning curve was nice and steep.
I'm excited to share some my favorite Big Ideas:
1. Leadership Basics - V + P + I + T + C + D.
2. Self-Invention - Is the key to leadership.
3. Blessed Impulse - You trust it?
4. What Will You Express? - Expressing vs. proving yourself.
5. Trust - The four ingredients.
Let us be called forth as we each become the leaders we are capable of becoming!
More goodness— including PhilosophersNotes on 300+ books in our *OPTIMIZE* membership program. Find out more at brianjohnson . me.
The book's attempt to draw conclusions from vast overviews of social and political changes falls totally flat, as it oversimplifies everything or makes unwarranted conclusions. The rambling lack of focus makes it hard to draw any lessons from it, even though clearly the people being quoted have valuable leadership experience to share.
At times the feel is of a high school or college student's pastiche of quotations out of context, mixed together, trying to sound wise, and simply failing. It's a shame. I read the whole book to at least feel I had given it a fair shake. It never got any better. You can learn something from anything, so in that sense it's not an utter waste of time. But there are many other books on this topic that deserve our time more.
A trivia note: John Sculley became CEO of Apple in 1983, not 1977 as the book says! That's a serious timeline problem that's obvious to anyone who is familiar with Apple's history.