Leaders are Made (NOT Born)

Hola Todos – Mr. Mike has some more “nugget worthy” leadership thoughts for use today.  The first person referenced in the post below is Warren Bennis.  Professor Bennis is to Leadership as Professor Philip Kotler is to Marketing or Vince Lombardi is to Football.  I have an excellent leadership book recommendation by Bennis for a future post.

What I like the most about the post below is that it emphasis that “leaders are made” as leaders learn to become leaders via experience. That statement is 100% within my worldview of servant leadership.  I also like the last Bennis quote as many of the most successful leaders I can think of did not conscientiously start out saying to themselves “I’m going to be a LEADER!”  It just happens – by doing…


Dr. Dan-o


To:  The Great Leaders Who Have a Passion for Continuous Learning

Warren Bennis in his book, On Becoming a Leader, writes that successful people who made it to the top did so “because leaders are made, and made by themselves.” This success comes from the ‘whole-brain’ thinking, moving from principally analytical to more creative thinking – as Bennis says from wearing square hats to sombreros. It is this broader approach in which people begin to find their fullest potential.  They understand that their growth requires new ways of seeing the world.  “It is the individual, operating at the peak of his creative and moral powers, who will revive our organizations by reinventing himself and them” writes Bennis.  They will be innovators and curious, non-linear thinkers.  Like former American Association of University Women executive director, Anne Bryant, they will take themselves and their people on ‘hot air balloon exercises’ to stimulate creative thinking:

“You take people up in an imaginary balloon and from up there you can see the entire entity. Then you examine what you see, who you see, what they’re doing, and what others things they might be doing, You imagine, for instance, what might happen if you put $500,000 toward child development research or what might be done about teen pregnancy.”

Great leaders listen intently and rely on what American author Ralph Waldo Emerson called the ‘blessed impulse,’ the inner voice of intuition. It is a release from linear thinking and allows them to explore alternative scenarios, opens them up to others’ perspectives and with reflection to arrive at a richer, more robust and value-added response.  As Bennis writes:  “No leader sets out to be a leader. People set out to live their lives, expressing themselves fully.  When that expression is of value, they become leaders.”

This week put on your sombrero of a whole-brain thinker.  See the realities of what is, and also the infinite possibilities of what could be.  Take a balloon ride and get a different perspective of the world around you.  Enjoy the view, then change the world!  And have fun doing it.

Have a beautiful day and a fantastic week!!!



Contact Information:

Michael M. Reuter

Director, Center for Leadership Development

Stillman School of Business

Seton Hall University

Tel: (Office) 973.275.2528; (Mobile) 908.419.6060

Email: Michael.Reuter@shu.edu


One thought on “Leaders are Made (NOT Born)

  1. Pingback: Leadership: Remembering Warren Bennis

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