Warren Bennis

United States
8 Mar 1925 // 31 Jul 2014
Organizational Consultant and Author


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The learning person looks forward to failure or mistakes. The worst problem in leadership is basically early success.

Quoted in Guide to the Management Gurus (1998)
Bureaucracy emerged out of the organization's need for order and precision and the workers' demands for impartial treatment. It was an organization ideally suited to the values and demands of the Victorian age.

'The Coming Death of Bureaucracy,' Think (1966)
Reflective back talk increases a leader's ability to make good decisions.

On Becoming a Leader (1989)
The single most important determinant of corporate culture is the behavior of the chief executive officer. He or she is the one clearly responsible for shaping the beliefs, motives, commitments, and predispositions of all.

'Leaders and Visions: Orchestrating the Corporate Culture,' The Conference Board Challenge to Business: Industry Leaders Speak Their Minds (2000)
You can be very bold as a theoretician. Good theories are like good art. A practitioner has to compromise.

The Director (1988)
Copying other organizations' activities sounds like industrial espionage to some people, but the truth is that benchmarking is perfectly legal and ethical.

The 21st Century Organization (1995)
Excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary.
Whips and chains are no longer an alternative for corporate management.

Fortune (February 1994)
Success in management requires learning as fast as the world is changing.
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On Anger: "For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind."
On Destiny: "Our destiny exercises its influence over us even when, as yet, we have not learned its nature: it is our future that lays down the law of our today."
Human, All Too Human
On Friendship: "A crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love."