On Becoming A Leader (Unplugged) Warren Bennis with Moe Abdou
You’re the father of modern leadership in my opinion. You’re the foundingchairman of the Leadership Institute at USC. I think you have writtenprobably or co-authored 30 books. I’m just delighted to spend a few minutes with you today.I wanted to pick your brain on your favorite topic leadership. I started tothink, if I were sitting in a room with you, what are some of the importantquestions I wanted to ask you?I think the first question that popped into my mind, when you look attoday’s leader, when you look at a modern 2011 leader or a BarackObama, do you see a difference between the one you saw back when youwere thrust into this leadership thing in the military? What’s thedifference?
That’s a huge question. I’ll just take a few cracks at it. My feeling is we have totry to get as many of your questions in as we can.The difference is profound. What comes to my mind almost immediately iscomplexity. Things only seem complex to people living in a particular era, aparticular time can you imagine the time when President Roosevelt tookoffice in 1933, there was something like 29 million telephones in this country.There must be 29 millions cellphones ringing right at this moment as we’retalking all over the world.If you take one big issue, the complexity of the fact is that due to media, TV,and certainly who could not mention social networking on a program that takesplace in 2001, you realize that the big difference is how quickly and how fastspace is condensed, time is condensed. Immediate communication is getting usfaster or getting us quicker. Everything is more complex.The problem with leadership is really almost one of not IQ but it’s the capacityto handle cognitive complexity. Can you imagine the kinds of things that are onour President’s desk right now? You’ve got things exploding. You haven’t evenlooked at the newspaper you have today. Things exploding and it’s spreadinglike an epidemic of flu; protests across all those Middle Eastern countries.What’s going on right now in Libya with hundreds of people being shot.What I’m getting at is, the leader of today I’m not just talking about stateleaders. I’m not just talking Barack Obama. Just to give you one little example,when I was first getting my political consciousness which was 1933 with the