On Leadership
Video | PostLeadership | FedCoach | | Books | About |
Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

Warren Bennis
Scholar

Warren Bennis

Warren Bennis is University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business at the University of Southern California. His newest book is 'Still Surprised: A Memoir of a Life in Leadership.'

Santa's Leadership Essentials

In the first session of the undergraduate class I teach on leadership each year, I show my one and only PowerPoint slide. It lists about 50 leaders, all of them well known: Mandela, Churchill, Bill Gates, FDR, Lincoln, Eisenhower, Truman, Meg Whitman, Gen. Petaeus, Jack Welch, Kay Graham, Barack Obama, Sergei Brin and so on.

After the class reads through this list, I pose a simple question: "What is the one distinguishing quality all these leaders have in common?" The students shout out their answers. These leaders have a vision. They inspire trust, have authenticity, competence or integrity. They are compelling speakers. They demonstrate judgment, taste and so on.

These are familiar answers, and important ones, but I press the students further. I point out members of the list who lack some of those qualities. What qualities, I ask, do they all share? Finally, I give the "correct" answer: All these leaders have inspired, willing followers. The response from students is usually a groan.

Given Santa Claus's global millions of willing and inspired followers, queuing up in the cold to buy presents for loved ones, how can there possibly be a singularly more powerful leader in the world than Santa!

By Warren Bennis

 |  December 22, 2008; 10:36 AM ET
Category:  Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Santa Has It Figured Out | Next: Santa in Sad Times

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company