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Warren Bennis

Warren Bennis

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Warren Gamaliel Bennis is an American scholar, organizational consultant and author, widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of Leadership studies
Leadership studies
Leadership studies is a multidisciplinary academic field of study that focuses on leadership in organizational contexts and in human life. Leadership studies has origins in the social sciences , in humanities , as well as in professional and applied fields of study...

.

Bennis is University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business Administration and Founding Chairman of The Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian, research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university...

.

"His work at MIT in the 1960s on group behavior foreshadowed -- and helped bring about -- today's headlong plunge into less hierarchical, more democratic and adaptive institutions, private and public," management expert Tom Peters wrote in 1993 in the foreword to Bennis’ An Invented Life: Reflections on Leadership and Change.

Management expert James O'Toole, in a 2005 issue of Compass, published by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government
John F. Kennedy School of Government
The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University is a public policy and public administration school, and one of Harvard's graduate and professional schools...

, claimed that Bennis developed "an interest in a then-nonexistent field that he would ultimately make his own -- leadership -- with the publication of his 'Revisionist Theory of Leadership' in Harvard Business Review in 1961." O'Toole observed that Bennis challenged the prevailing wisdom by showing that humanistic, democratic-style leaders are better suited to dealing with the complexity and change that characterize the leadership environment.

Military service & education


Bennis grew up within a working-class Jewish family in Westwood, New Jersey
Westwood, New Jersey
Westwood is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough population was 10,908....

, before enlisting in the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 in 1943. He would go on to serve as one of the Army’s youngest infantry officers in the European theater of operations, and was awarded the Purple Heart
Purple Heart
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving on or after April 5, 1917 with the U.S. military. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York...

 and Bronze Star.

Following his military service, he enrolled in Antioch College
Antioch College
Antioch College is a private, independent liberal arts college in Yellow Springs, Ohio, United States. It was the founder and the flagship institution of the six-campus Antioch University system. Founded in 1852 by the Christian Connection, the college began operating in 1853 with politician and...

 in 1947. Antioch president Douglas McGregor
Douglas McGregor
Douglas Murray McGregor was a Management professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and president of Antioch College from 1948 to 1954. He also taught at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. His 1960 book The Human Side of Enterprise had a profound influence on education practices...

, considered one of the founders of the modern democratic management philosophy, would take Bennis on as a protégé, a scholarly relationship that would prove fruitful when both later served as professors at the MIT Sloan School of Management
MIT Sloan School of Management
The MIT Sloan School of Management is the business school of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts....

. There, Bennis would hold the post of chairman of the Organizational Studies Department.

Career


Within the area of management, Bennis sought to move from theory to practice in 1967, taking the post of provost
Provost (education)
A provost is the senior academic administrator at many institutions of higher education in the United States, Canada and Australia, the equivalent of a pro-vice-chancellor at some institutions in the United Kingdom and Ireland....

 of the State University of New York at Buffalo and the presidency of the University of Cincinnati in 1971. He authored two books on leadership during his presidency: The Leaning Ivory Tower, 1973, and The Unconscious Conspiracy: Why Leaders Can’t Lead, 1976.

Bennis chose to return to the life of a teacher, consultant and author following a heart attack in 1979, joining the faculty of the University of Southern California. Most of the best-known of his 27 books followed, including the bestselling Leaders and On Becoming A Leader, both translated into 21 languages. An Invented Life was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. More recent books, Organizing Genius, 1997, Co-Leaders, 1999, and Managing The Dream, 2000, summarize Bennis’s interests in leadership, judgment, organizational change and creative collaboration. Geeks & Geezers, 2002, examines the differences and similarities between leaders thirty years and younger and leaders seventy years and older.

Bennis spent time as an adviser to four United States presidents and several other public figures, and has also consulted for numerous FORTUNE 500 companies.

He has also spent time on the faculties of Harvard and Boston University and taught at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIM-C)
Indian Institute of Management Calcutta
The Indian Institute of Management Calcutta is an institute of management located in Kolkata , India giving diplomas in management...

, INSEAD and IMD. In addition to his current posts at USC, Bennis serves as chairman of the Advisory Board of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School. He is a visiting professor of leadership at the University of Exeter (UK) and a senior fellow at UCLA’s School of Public Policy and Social Research.

Impact


Bennis’ impact on the fields of leadership and management theory is significant. The Wall Street Journal named him as one of the top ten most sought speakers on management in 1993; Forbes magazine referred to him as the “dean of leadership gurus” in 1996. The Financial Times referred to Bennis in 2000 as “the professor who established leadership as a respectable academic field.” In August, 2007, Business Week ranked Bennis as one of the top ten thought leaders in business.

See also

  • Op-ed on Bennis speaking at the Global Brand Forum in Singapore 2004 - "Getting Singaporeans to step out of the safest queue" by Koh Buck Song
    Koh Buck Song
    Koh, Buck Song is a writer, editor and consultant in branding, communications strategy and corporate social responsibility in Singapore.-Selected Published Works:Koh, Buck Song is the author and editor of 20 books.His non-fiction books include:...

    , The Straits Times 1 September 2004.

External links