Sonoma State University

Philosophy 101: Critical Thinking



Consultant Warren Bennis and reporter Patricia Ward Biederman teamed up to argue that in the future the mantle of leadership will belong not to extraordinary individuals but to people working together in teams.

"In a society as complex and technologically sophisticated as ours, the most urgent projects require the coordinated contributions of many talented people. Whether the task is building a global business or discovering the mysteries of the human brain, one person can't hope to accomplish it, however gifted or energetic he or she may be. There are simply too many problems to be identified and solved, too many connections to be made. And yet, even as we make the case for collaboration, we resist the idea of collective creativity. Our mythology refuses to catch up with our reality. We cling to the myth of the Lone Ranger, the romantic idea that great things are usually accomplished by a larger-than-life individual working alone. Despite the evidence to the contrary, we still tend to think of achievement in terms of the Great Man or Great Woman, instead of the Great Group.

"But in a global society, in which timely information is the most important commodity, collaboration is not simply desirable, it is inevitable. In all but the rarest cases, one is too small a number to produce greatness. A recent study of senior executives of international firms published by Korn-Ferry, the world's largest executive search firm, and The Economist resoundingly confirms the thesis that tomorrow's organizations will be managed by teams of leaders. Asked who will have the most influence on their global organizations in the next ten years, 61 percent responded 'teams of leaders'; 14 percent said 'one leader.' That does not mean, however, that we no longer need leaders. Instead, we have to recognize a new paradigm: not great leaders alone, but great leaders who exist in a fertile relationship with a Great Group. In these creative alliances, the leader and the team are able to achieve something together that neither could achieve alone. The leader finds greatness in the group. And he or she helps the members find it in themselves."

"Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration," by Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman