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Bennis' Leadership Qualities


Disciplines > Leadership > Bennis' Leadership Qualities

Integrity | Dedication | Magnanimity | Humility | Openness | Creativity | See also


Warren Bennis, widely known as a modern leadership guru, has identified six personal qualities .


Integrity means alignment of words and actions with inner values. It means sticking to these values even when an alternative path may be easier or more advantageous.

A leader with integrity can be trusted and will be admired for sticking to strong values. They also act as a powerful model for people to copy, thus building an entire organization with powerful and effective cultural values.


Dedication means spending whatever time and energy on a task is required to get the job done, rather than giving it whatever time you have available.

The work of most leadership positions is not something to do 'if time'. It means giving your whole self to the task, dedicating yourself to success and to leading others with you.


A magnanimous person gives credit where it is due. It also means being gracious in defeat and allowing others who are defeated to retain their dignity.

Magnanimity in leadership includes crediting the people with success and accepting personal responsibility for failures.


Humility is the opposite of arrogance and narcissism. It means recognizing that you are not inherently superior to others and consequently that they are not inferior to you. It does not mean diminishing yourself, nor does it mean exalting yourself.

Humble leaders do not debase themselves, neither falsely nor due to low self-esteem. They simply recognize all people as equal in value and know that their position does not make them a god.


Openness means being able to listen to ideas that are outside one's current mental models, being able to suspend judgement until after one has heard someone else's ideas.

An open leader listens to their people without trying to shut them down early, which at least demonstrates care and builds trust. Openness also treats other ideas as potentially better than one's own ideas. In the uncertain world of new territory, being able to openly consider alternatives is an important skill.


Creativity means thinking differently, being able to get outside the box and take a new and different viewpoint on things.

For a leader to be able to see a new future towards which they will lead their followers, creativity provides the ability to think differently and see things that others have not seen, and thus giving reason for followers to follow.

See also

Followership, Values

Buy Me

 Warren Bennis On Becoming a Leader, Perseus Publishing, 2003

Updated version of this classic text by one of the world's leaders in leadership. Timeless insights into what makes a great leader.


Buy Me

 Warren Bennis and Joan Goldsmith, Learning to Lead, Perseus Publishing, 2003

Practical things you can actually do, rather than the broader generalizations that most leadership books cover. Very useful for the aspiring leader too.


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