The Four Essential Competencies of a Leader

Recently I started reading On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis as several people have mentioned it as a classic. After getting through his Hollywood-style political leanings in the intro he does a good job of describing characteristics and examples of good and bad leaders.

Here are the four essential competencies of a leader according to Warren Bennis (pg. xxv)

  • Leaders are able to engage others by creating shared meaning
  • All authentic leaders have a distinctive voice
  • All true leaders have integrity
  • The most important competency is adaptive capacity — this is what allows leaders to respond quickly and intelligently to relentless change

Most of the leaders interviewed are somewhat dated now as the book is over 20 years old but the concepts and ideas still ring true. For leaders looking to learn and grow in their skills, this book is a quality read.

What else? Do you agree with these four essential competencies of a leader?

4 thoughts on “The Four Essential Competencies of a Leader

  1. To mix a bit of Jim Collins, leaders find the the right people and enable them. They cant do everything on their own.

  2. This has been on my bookshelf for a few months – thanks for the summary! I agree that leaders create a shared vision that goes beyond P&L.

  3. I would add- leaders should have a vision. Obviously people are not blind. One can succeed in “brainwashing” once or twice, but eventually true virtue of a person will come out.

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