“Leaders have no interest in proving themselves, but an abiding interest in expressing themselves.”
On Becoming a Leader provides many fine insights. Perhaps the key one, and the theme of the book, is this: True leaders are not interested in proving themselves, they want above all to be able to express themselves fully. Proving oneself implies a limited or static view of the self, whereas leaders, by continually seeking their fullest expression, must be willing to engage in periodic reinvention. For Bennis’s leaders, life is not a competition but a flowering. Structured education and society often get in the way of leadership: “What we need to know gets lost in what we are told we should know.” Real learning is the process of remembering what is important to you, and becoming a leader is therefore the act of becoming more and more your true self.
According to Bennis, becoming a leader involves:
- Continuous learning and never-dying curiosity.
- A compelling vision: leaders first define their reality (what they believe is possible), then set about “managing their dream.”
- Developing the ability to communicate that vision and inspire others to follow it.
- Tolerating uncertainty and taking on risk: a degree of daring.
- Personal integrity: self-knowledge, candor, maturity, welcoming criticism.
- Being a one-off, an original: “Leaders learn from others, but are not made by others.”
- Reinvention: to create new things sometimes involves recreating yourself. You may be influenced by your genes and environment, but leaders take all their influences and create something unique.
- Taking time off to think and reflect, which brings answers and produces resolutions.
- Passion for the promises of life: a belief in the best, for yourself and others.
- Seeing success in small, everyday increments and joys, not waiting years for the Big Success to arrive.
- Using the context of your life, rather than surrendering to it
In a nutshell
True leadership arises in the full expression of a person’s unique