If you’ve been to this blog before you might have noticed that I’m not averse to quoting individuals or articles/papers in my posts. But I don’t do it every time and I like to keep the quotes short in relation to the post. I’ve never been one for blog posts made up largely of other people’s words. My choice. I’m not being critical.
But on this occasion I’m going to make an exception. Having just read the Editors note – Remembering Warren Bennis – from the October issue of the Harvard Business Review I feel compelled to share the entire piece with you. I was going to tweet snippets of it out to the twitterverse but found myself thinking this piece is too good to broadcast in soundbite fashion!
What follows, is, in my opinion, a well written eulogy for what appears to be a great man. I have read some of Warren’s Harvard pieces and his words resonate strongly. But I confess, I don’t recall ever reading any of his books, and that leaves me feeling like I’ve missed out.
Even though you only really get a glimpse of the man and what he stands for in the piece that follows, it is enough to see that this guy was a visionary. Julia Kirby, Editor at Large for HBR sums up his presence beautifully at the end.
We should mark Warren’s words wisely for the future when considering not only what type of person we want to lead business, and life, but also the kind of ‘business” or life we really want.
I’m off to take a look back over the archives!
Remembering Waren Bennis
How do you measure the impact of a man?
Warren Bennis, who died this summer at the age of 89, certainly ranks amongst the worlds most influential thinkers on the topic of leadership. He explored it in more than two dozen books and in countless articles – many of them for the Havard Business Review (HBR) It’s not s stretch to say that he bought the study of leadership from the fringes of academia to the mainstream, always arguing that leaders needed to be more democratic than autocratic. But his greatest and most enduring gift may have been his generosity of spirit. As David Wan, the CEO of Harvard Business Publishing (and a friend of Warrens) puts it: “Everyone viewed Warren as a mentor.”
The list of those who would agree is indeed long and impressive, ranging from Starbucks’s CEO, Howard Schultz, to the political commentator David Gergen, to the prominent psychologist Mark Goulston. Schultz, in his book “Pour Your Heart Into It”, describes how he came to depend on warrens advice, writing that he would call him up “late at night or early in the morning, whenever I reached a turning point and was lost for what to do.”
Bennis spent his final 35 years teaching at the University of Southern California, and he founded the school’s leadership Institute. He kept active nearly until the end, giddily learning the art of blogging for titles like HBR, Bloomberg Business Week, and others. In 2010 he published a final book, a memoir titled Still Surprised, that nicely sums up his life and ideas.
I interviewed Warren when the book came out. He talked about one unfinished project: “It may come that my next book will be called… Grace. I think that may be just the name for a book which is going to deal with issues of generosity, respect, redemption, and sacrifice – all of which sound vaguely spiritual, but all of which I think are going to be required for leadership.” As my my colleague Julia Kirby wrote in a touching remembrance on our website, “grace never made it to bookstore shelves. But the people who had the privilege of knowing and working with Warren got the content of that book in his presence.”
Copyright Harvard Business Publishing
Note to those nice folks at HBR :) I hope you don’t mind me reproducing this piece. I have an online account but I cannot locate this piece in order to share a link. I have tweeted you to see if it’s ok to share a pic of the article but I have not heard back from you as yet. I think this way is cleaner anyway.
I am more the happy to: replace this text with a direct link, or, if the piece is contained within a for purchase pdf file I will happily link to that instead or any other link required or delete the entry from my blog. Just let me know! Apologies for any inconvenience caused.