Leadership : The Leadership Advantage
Warren Bennis is distinguished professor of business administration and founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business. He has advised four U.S. presidents and 100's of CEOs. Warren is the author or coauthor of almost 30 books on leadership, change, and management.
Below is a link to the full article written by Warren for Leader to Leader in Spring, 1999.
"Never has the subject of leadership been of greater interest to managers, or to management writers. Richard Donkins, writing in The Financial Times, describes "a fixation bordering on obsession [with] the qualities needed for corporate leadership." It is, he adds, a "contagious" obsession, spreading in scope and intensity throughout our society, and suggesting that Americans have lost their way.
If it is an obsession, it is a useful one for any organization concerned about the future -- but I understand the source of the frustration Donkins and others display. For all the ink it gets in scholarly, business, and popular journals, leadership remains an elusive concept.
However, whether or not leadership is well understood, its impact on the bottom line is dramatic, according to a study by Andersen Consulting's Institute for Strategic Change: the stock price of companies perceived as being well led grew 900 percent over a 10-year period, compared to just 74 percent growth in companies perceived to lack good leadership.
And Fortune, in its 1998 round up of America's most admired companies, identifies the common denominator of exemplary organizations. "The truth is that no one factor makes a company admirable," wrote Thomas Stewart, "but if you were forced to pick the one that makes the most difference, you'd pick leadership. In Warren Buffet's phrase, 'People are voting for the artist and not the painting.'"
copyright 1999 Warren Bennis / Leader to Leader