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Managing People is Like Herding Cats: Warren Bennis on Leadership Paperback – May 25, 1999
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Bennis begins with an especially apt quotation of T.S. Eliot's comments on his cat The Rum Tum Tugger: "For he will do as he will do, and there's no doing anything about it. When you let him in, then he wants out; he's always in the wrong side of the door." As an owner of countless cats myself for more than 20 years, I can personally affirm that Eliot's cat is normal. It really makes no difference what you name a cat nor what you say to it. The best advice I can offer is to remember that a dog's idea of God is a human being but that a cat's idea of God is a cat. For thousands of years, the human race has deified certain rulers (e.g. Caesars), many of whom (like cats) saw themselves as deities. Until recently, many corporate CEOs embraced the "command and control" leadership style. Several of them are on record as viewing themselves as omniscient and omnipotent, victims of what I characterize as "The Ozmanias Syndrome" which is inevitably fatal for them and often for their spheres of influence as well.
Back to Bennis and this book. To those who aspire to lead people, here's his advice: "Be humble. Stop trying to `herd cats' and start building trust and mutual respect. Your `cats' will respond. They will sense your purpose, keep your business purring, and even kill your rats.Read more ›
Bennis states that there is a `leadership crisis' in the United States, and offers four contributing factors. The first is the `growing disparity between the rich and the poor'. I wholeheartedly agree - nothing erodes trust in our leadership than seeing CEOs making millions, while John Q. Public has been downsized out of a job, and no longer has health insurance for his kids.
The second factor is what Bennis calls the `inverted trust factor'. This has to do with trust in government, and how that trust has eroded. This book was published in 1999; we've all seen the brief surge in trust that followed the September 11th tragedy; however, as Osama bin Laden continues to elude us, I feel that trust in our government is on the downswing again.
The third factor Bennis calls the `abandoned other half', those who have been laid off and downsized. With a growing population and a shrinking job market, what chance do American workers have of finding a decent job with good wages and benefits?
The last contributor to the `crisis' is the lack of empowerment felt by American workers.Read more ›
On a positive note, Bennis is very, very quotable. Sound bites are sprinkled throughout, like, "There isn't a company in America that wouldn't benefit from a little less efficiency and a lot more inspiration."
The problem is, the cutsey quotes don't connect. As stand-alone quotes, they suck you in and make it seem interesting. But there's nothing in between. Same with the catchy titles--"Too Many Chiefs," "Shakes and Quakes," and even "Managing People is Like Herding Cats." It got my attention but never delivered.
In addition, the title indicates that the book might give some insight into managing people. Nope. I was actually insulted to be a manager. The entire book couches leaders as the saviors and managers as the uninspired, uncreative simpletons of the business world. "Management is about systems, controls, procedures, policies, structure. Leadership is about trust--about people."
If you want a book with great quotes you can throw around to seem wise and deep, this book can help. If you want inspiration because you fancy yourself a leader and visionary, this might be interesting. If you want a book with actually helps you with your effectiveness as a leader, forget it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very good book about leadership. Recommended by my PM. The only thing is very America oriented, but still very good one.Published 12 months ago by Victor
unfortunately the author was a bit self absorbed.. Uses unneeded high level language to make simple, accurate observations. Read morePublished 13 months ago by brent swindler
It's OK. Bennis rehashes often, as though he'd written about the same concept several times before putting all his ideas in as separate chapters. Read morePublished 23 months ago by April
very nice super
it got here in time and was what I expected
like this book a lot; I have one and a got this other as a gift
I was very happy with the book, it was as described nearly new no damage to any pages and very minimal damage to dust coverPublished on December 21, 2012 by Linda Trahan
Managing People is Like Herding Cats is a book that explores the principles of effective leadership at all levels. Read morePublished on December 19, 2012 by Dr. David Steele
A great audio tape for new leaders. The audio lets us know that the old way will fail you. People are more educated now, therefore the boss is not the only one with the college... Read morePublished on August 31, 2011 by Discover