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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.'

The Ingredients of "Milk"

Certainly Milk , in which Sean Penn's character evolves from a community organizer, to a movement leader and then to holding political office, is a remarkable and noteworthy leadership film. All the necessary ingredients were there: a cause whose time had come; a terrific "recruiter" who could sense the crying need that homosexuals need more than sympathy and understanding but respect: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

I would also mention two other films. In Gandhi, the young lawyer realized first of all that he had to understand the depth of feelings that rural Indians felt about freedom and their oppression. When he returned from South Africa at the age of 45, he walked around India for a year to learn the context, the yearning, the unfairness and degradation of the majority of Indians. He was taking Falstaff's advice to young Prince Hal: "If you want to lead people, you have to enter their world." Gandhi also knew a thing or two about public demonstrations and working with the press to enroll "witnesses" to his cause. He used Life magazine photographer Margaret Bourke White and other journalists to push his cause.

Golda Meir's role in Munich also comes to mind. As prime minister of Israel in its earliest days, Meir kept reminding her people of what's important. It seems to me that exemplary leaders, if there is one lesson they embody, it's reminding people of what's important.

By Warren Bennis

 |  February 17, 2009; 1:40 PM ET
Category:  Pop culture Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The Inspiration of "Gandhi" | Next: The Many Faces of "Gandhi"

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