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The Future of Leadership: Today's Top Leadership Thinkers Speak to Tomorrow's Leaders by Gretchen M. Spreitzer, Warren Bennis, Thomas G. Cummings

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Chapter Eight

Leadership as the Legitimation of Doubt

Karl E. Weick

The purpose of this chapter is to develop an allegory for leadership in the twenty-first century, an allegory built around a moment in Warren Bennis's life. As he describes in his commentary at the end of this book, Bennis gave an evening lecture at the Harvard School of Education while he was president of the University of Cincinnati. Everything came together in a superb performance. During the upbeat Q and A session after the speech, Bennis was startled when the dean, Paul Ylvisaker, asked quietly, “Warren, do you really love being president of Cincinnati?” Bennis did not have a snappy answer. In fact, he didn't have any answer. After an interminable silence, in a room that ...

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