On Becoming a Leader (in Education)

Warren Bennis‘ 1989 book, On Becoming a Leader, was revised and expanded for a 2003 edition. In this classic, Bennis outlines some of the key characteristics that are common to leaders in all fields. He draws these conclusions from many interviews and biographies of past and present leaders, such as former presidents, business CEOs and college presidents. In explaining these concepts, Bennis often turns to the U.S. school system to point out how it is not conducive to producing future leaders as it has a tendency to train rather than to educate. His overall message is that it is vital for a leader to have a vision that can be clearly articulated to followers. That vision may need to evolve over time as it needs to fit in the context of the lives of the followers.

TeacherJay really enjoyed this book as it provides some good information on how to become a leader in any field. While there are many books written on this topic, this particular book has a particular slant towards education and can help to guide the reader on her/his path towards becoming a leader who can affect change in education. TeacherJay has heard the complaints from parents, teachers, students and other stakeholders in education that the system is broken, but rarely has he seen people with solid suggestions on how to fix it. By looking at some of the positive and negative qualities of effective and ineffective leaders, perhaps some new leaders will emerge that will truly improve the situation for all.

TeacherJay is also intersted in what his own readers have to say. What makes a good leader in education? There have been many leaders that have emerged in the field over the past century whose visions may have changed the face of education for all, such as Dewey, Hirsch, or Gardner. Why were these leaders effective and the visions of others were never heard? Is it possible that a single leader could have a large-scale effect on schooling in America?, or the rest of the world?

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One Response to “On Becoming a Leader (in Education)”

  1. Darrell L. Hill Says:

    Thanks for taking the time to tell us about this book. I’ve added it to my reading list. I think Bennis is right about the training vs. educating dilemma we seem to face in this country. I also agree with you that there are some difficulties with leadership in the field these days. Thanks for the posting.


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