Client Leadership - What Warren Bennis Can Inspire

If you have not heard of Warren Bennis, then you are probably not familiar with one of the best pieces of writing on leadership. Warren was a professor at the University of Southern California and was probably one of the most notable experts on leadership. He has written many books, and it's hard to say which one is best or what one resonates with me the most. All his books seem to resonate with me.

He was, in my opinion, an artist. I believe he tried to be a scientist, with his study on leaders, but when it came down to putting his findings into words, the words turned out sentences and the sentences turned out paragraphs which are pieces of art. Some say the writing is a form of poetry. But art is probably the better description, as his words speak softly about the humbleness of leadership and it's duty to others and the key characteristics that the good leaders exemplify.

It's difficult to describe the flavor of gentleness and at the same time the passion I am trying to convey about the strength of his writing. I love his book, On Becoming A Leader. I am reading it, for what, maybe the tenth time? This book after reading it so many times embodies the art I am trying to describe. The rightness and the subtly of the messages Bennis of what is important and have us as readers synthesize requires rereads of the many ideas and concepts. And yes, that's the right word, synthesize. It requires the reader to synthesize his writing.

I can recall reading his first book that launched him into the limelight Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge. I didn't understand a word of it. I was young, a newly minted manager, stumbling around trying to motivate people and trying to get people to be what I thought was important--or said another way--like I was, which I thought was a good idea. What a disaster that was. I am surprised I wasn't fired. Or at least demoted. But people put up with me. And my subordinates? Well they smiled and did what they wanted.

Applying Leadership to Our Clients
I look back at that time in wonderment. But who cares about me. This is about clients. How can leadership be applied to winning and keeping clients?  One word: a lot. Okay, that's two words.

Mastery of what you do is important to clients. Leadership is a component of mastery. And mastery is a component of leadership. One without the other is empty. You can't lead others without mastery of understanding people, your services and solutions, and how you help your clients. Without these you can't advise clients.

Here is Warren Bennis: "The leader hasn't simply practiced his vocation or profession. He's mastered it. He's learned everything there is to know about it, and then surrendered to it. For example, the late Freed Astaire mastered the choreography, and then surrendered to it. He became one with it, so it was impossible to say where he stopped and the routine began. He was the routine."

To win and keep clients, the best professionals master their business. They become one with it. It is hard to say where the professional stops and the business begins. The client who says, "I feel like he is part of our organization" reflects the outer edges of what I referring to.

Here is Warren Bennis again, "Such mastery requires full concentration, the full deployment of oneself."

Dedicate yourself and your business to your clients. Become one with your clients' business. In the end, the client will appreciate the value that brings to their business. Most importantly, you will appreciate it--as you will see the decided and marked difference this brings to your business and fulfillment.

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