Bennis was a pioneer in the area of Leadership research, authoring or coauthoring over 30 books on varying subjects, working as a consultant, educator and an administrator. He wrote his first article on leadership in 1959 and became an authority on the subject after the publication of his book Leaders, in 1985.
Warren was educated at Antioch College and later the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). While at MIT he studied group dynamics and in the 1950’s he was associated with the U.S. National Training Laboratories teamworking experiments and his research involved organizational development. Bennis was an admirer of Douglas McGregor and his theory of motivation, called “Theory Y.” McGregor was the president of Antioch College when Warren attended, and he was also instrumental in hiring Bennis for his research at MIT. Bennis became the president of the University of Cincinnati in 1971, and used his position in the administration to attempt to put McGregor’s theories on motivation into practice.
In the mid 1970’s Bennis began to work on the idea that managers and leaders were two different things and he went on to commit his studies and writings to finding what made leaders successful and set them apart from others. More importantly, he wanted to determine if the skills of a good leader could be taught. He partnered with a man named Burt Nanus and coauthored Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge (1985). Leaders attempted to identify characteristics shared among 90 successful American leaders. This book catapulted Bennis to the apex of leadership study, and over the next three decades he continued to write and teach on the subject.
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