Terry Kinder Fundamentals of Public Administration Article Review E-7 Bennis, Warren, “The End of Leadership: Exemplary Leadership is Impossible

Without the Full Inclusion, Initiatives, and Cooperation of Followers,” Organizational Dynamics, vol. 28 (Summer 1999), pp 71-80. Warren Bennis writes about the revelation he had while preparing for a debate where he had to take the position that all successful organizational change must originate at the top. Previously, Bennis was an advocate of strong leadership. However, while researching, he became convinced that with the complex, technological, and “adaptive” nature of the challenges confronting us, that the only solution to them was a real alliance between the workforce and top leadership. Moreover, he came to the conclusion that leadership exercised from the top, without the full inclusion and cooperation of followers would be wrong, unrealistic, maladaptive and dangerous. Bennis outlines how what he calls TOPdown leadership has mythologized the leader as hero. This heroic view of leadership blurs the line between leader, hero, and celebrity, and ignores the cooperative systems that make possible effective change. Advances in technology are creating a “smaller” world, while simultaneously making problems more complex and reducing the ability of any one individual, or leader, to solve them without the help of others. Various illustrations, ranging from poetry to the experiments of a social psychologist, as well examples from the social movements of Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, are used to make the case that organizational change cannot happen without the full inclusion and cooperation of followers. Next, Bennis outlines what he calls the new leadership. Future organizations will be more loosely formed alliances – virtually any structure – except the pyramid-like structure of the past. Intellectual capital and knowledge work has overtaken capital as the critical factor for business success. Because this is true, leaders will have to use less direct, subtler means of influence. A new set of skills will be needed for leaders. Four talents for new leaders will be essential:

1) The power of appreciation. The new leader is not so much the creator as the cultivator of
talent. Leaders will not necessarily be the “best and brightest”, but will fearlessly choose people who are in fact more talented and better able to accomplish the work. Leaders will check their egos at the door and rely on the abilities of others to get things done. 2) The new leader will continually remind people what is important. A powerful vision can be a transforming one. However, people still need to be reminded of the purpose and meaning of their work and this, in turn, reinforces the sense of meaning and purpose in their own lives. 3) The new leader generates and sustains trust. In a world where down-sizing is the rule, rather than the exception, trust is needed. Leaders who demonstrate ability, sincerity, fairness, consistency, frankness, and who can be “real”, are able to manage workers who are a mix of drive, ability, and principle. 4) The new leader and the led are close allies. They are so close that great leaders and great groups exist in harmony as part of a larger whole. New leaders will listen more than they talk. The organizations they lead will be based on concepts and activities rather than the desire of the leader to obtain hero status.