Jim Clemmer: Leadership reflections from Warren Bennis

Excerpts from Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership:

“…stories are a powerful tool for engaging others. All of us present ourselves to the world through the stories we invent about ourselves, consciously or not.”

“The leader of a group must never get overly involved with its sickest member… the temptation is always there, since the most troubled member is often the most clamorous and the biggest challenge. Warren BennisBut the leader who is hijacked by extreme pathology pays a terrible price. The group will become polarized…focusing on the sickest individual is the worst error a leader can make because it usurps the rightful authority of the healthier members to handle the situation.”

“Listening is an art, a demanding one that requires you to damp down your own ego and make yourself fully available to someone else. As a listener, you must stop performing and only attend and process. If you listen closely enough, you can hear what the speaker really means, whatever the words. And paying undivided, respectful attention inevitably makes you more empathetic, one of the most important and most undervalued leadership skills.”

“….the truly important things often compete with crisis management for a leader’s time, and the truly important things often lose out.

(From his study of 90 leaders for his book, co-authored with Burt Nanus, Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge) “We identified the qualities and behaviors that allow someone to succeed in a leadership role. Among the essential traits we identified were empathy, respect, and insight in dealing with others. I called that emotional wisdom.”

“In Geeks & Geezers, now titled Leading for a Lifetime, Bob Thomas and I compared and contrasted leaders under the age of 30 and over 70. We discovered that all had undergone a crucible, a transformative experience that prepared them to lead. We found that adaptive capacity was the single most important attribute for success, whatever the field.”

“…candor is essential for organizational health and transparency is inevitable in a world where the Internet has effectively toppled walls and erased physical boundaries.”

For over 30 years, Jim Clemmer’s practical leadership approaches have been inspiring action and achieving results. He has delivered thousands of keynote presentations, workshops, and management team retreats to hundreds of organizations around the globe moving his audiences from inspiration to application. He’s listed in the World’s Top 30 Most Influential Leadership Gurus based on research with 22,000 global business people, consultants, academics and MBAs. His website is www.JimClemmer.com.

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