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Harv Bus Rev. Sep;80(9), Crucibles of leadership. Bennis WG(1 ), Thomas RJ. Author information: (1)Leadership Institute, University of. Robert J. Thomas April 01, Pioneering scholarship by Warren Bennis, Edgar Schein, Chris Argyris, Donald Schon and Bennis and I speculate about the process through which crucibles teach leadership lessons. Crucibles of Leadership. Bennis, Warren G.; Thomas, Robert J. Harvard Business Review, v80 n9 p Sep Often, a traumatic event that forces a.

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Crucibles of leadership.

Through a variety of examples, the authors explore the idea of the crucible in detail. Experience can make you better, but you have to have the right skills within you.

This is a summary of the full article. And these two otherwise radically different groups have important things to teach business. With 12 million members, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is well on its way to becoming a world religion.

A brief analysis of these organizationally instigated crucibles shows how they contribute to experience-based leader development. Many missionaries keep journals during their time away and record their impressions, insights and lessons learned for future reflection. As the Mormons do, the Hells Angels make sure to capture the lessons from their crucible experiences by meeting after the events. Each group uses a particular activity as a crucible experience for leader development.

Surprisingly, the best examples of organizations that cruciblew employ such alchemy do not come from the business world. These experiences made them stronger and more confident and changed cducibles sense of purpose in some fundamental way. The extraordinarily loud and deep rumble of dozens occasionally hundreds of unmuffled Harley-Davidson motorcycles can be heard for miles — no small source of delight to the riders.


Who else is going to tell him that he [messed] up but his family? Individuals are selected and assigned, introduced to the culture and the unique requirements of the job, deployed and managed while on site and renewed or reincorporated with new skills and perspectives.

Crucibles of Leadership Development

Yet the Mormon process goes deeper on every level. Though legal in most jurisdictions, a planned anc nevertheless attracts a great deal of attention from local law enforcement agencies and civic officials eager to divert the event if possible. In interviewing more than 40 leaders in business and the public sector over the past three years, the authors discovered that all of them–young and old alike–had endured intense, often traumatic, experiences that transformed them and became the source of their distinctive leadership abilities.

And because many of its ventures are secretive and subject to external surveillance, it works to prevent organizational decapitation by maintaining a leadership pipeline.

Crucibles can occur on and off the job. Moreover, runs invariably cross territorial boundaries between different clubs, many of thomxs are hostile. The authors’ recent research suggests that one of the most reliable indicators and predictors of true leadership is the og to learn from even the most negative experiences.

As an organization, it is a paradox: Bennis and Thomas call these shaping experiences “crucibles,” after the vessels medieval alchemists used in their attempts to turn base metals into gold. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better known as the Mormons, and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club have mastered the art of turning crucible experiences into leadership gold. Returning missionaries form alumni networks, often composed of church members who went through the Missionary Training Center together.


In Leading for a LifetimeWarren Bennis and I speculate about the process through which crucibles teach leadership lessons. Crucible experiences, when properly set up, managed and mined, can help aspiring companies develop their next generation of outstanding leaders. No simple formula can explain how great leaders come to be, but Bennis and Thomas believe it has something to do with the ways people handle adversity. No mean feat, considering that large fractions of its leadership have been arrested periodically.

Crucibles of leadership.

These are not one- or two-day etiquette crucibes intended to prevent faux pas. A Hells Angel chapter leader explained this to me in vivid language: Support, in the form of senior companions, enables missionaries to navigate through uncertain situations and to weather the inevitable homesickness.

What makes a great leader? In each phase, the church emphasizes the acquisition of technical skills and learning skills.

As the group has grown in number and complexity — it sells dozens of branded products, for example, and recently had to sue Walt Disney Co. As a result of the mission, then, the organization has new members and a fresh supply of dedicated individuals who represent the pool from which the next generation of leaders can be recruited.

Some take the form of reversal — a death in the family, a divorce, the loss of a job.