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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A third form is the crucible of new territory, in which the individual is thrust into thomxs new social role or asked to take on an overseas assignment in an unfamiliar country.

Paradoxical as it may seem for an organization widely regarded as anarchic, the Hells Angels is exemplary in its use of critical experiences to grow leaders. 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 crucinles, experiences that transformed them and became the source of their distinctive leadership abilities.

But they, and a few others, are the exceptions. Experience can make you better, but you have to have the right skills within you. An extraordinary leader is a kind of phoenix rising from the ashes of adversity stronger and more committed than ever.

The most relevant test? thomss

In Leading for a LifetimeWarren Bennis and I speculate about the process through which crucibles teach leadership lessons. And despite their manifest lesdership, they leadershp a variety of other similarities. They also reveal that great leaders possess four essential skills, the most critical of which is “adaptive capacity”–an almost magical ability to transcend adversity and emerge stronger than before.

These are not one- or two-day etiquette seminars intended to prevent faux pas. Some organizations have taken this idea to heart. But some experiences matter more than others, as two unconventional but highly successful organizations — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club — have recognized.

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Alternately reviled and mythologized, the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is perhaps best known for two things: Leaders learn how crucbles lead from experience. It is a time of trial from which individuals emerge with a new or altered sense of identity — and from which future leaders of the church emerge.

Yet the Mormon process goes deeper on every level. Writing in The Nation 40 years ago, Hunter S. 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. Inthe Mormon Church had more than 52, men and women serving as missionaries in countries.

Bennis and Thomas call these shaping experiences “crucibles,” after the vessels medieval alchemists used in their attempts to turn base metals into gold. Through a variety of examples, the authors explore the idea of the crucible in detail.

Crucibles of leadership.

For the Mormon Church, the most visible crucible is the missionary experience, a test of faith, identity leadedship leadership talent that also serves as the principal growth engine for church membership. Church membership has grown robustly since ; it doubled between and But it is also a critical organizational function, a rite of passage for young men and women between the ages of 19 and 26, and a leadership crucible.

Instead, members are steeped in methods for reading situations, for judging the sincerity of someone on the journey to conversion, for resolving crucibes and maintaining productive relationships with their missionary companions with whom they will live and work for up to six months and for developing the personal resilience necessary to withstand frequent rejection.


Run organizers benefit from building on legend and venturing to create their own. Runs typically stretch hundreds of miles along public thoroughfares.

Crucibles of leadership.

This is a summary of the full article. Crucible experiences can be thought of as a kind of superconcentrated form of leadership development. Both have closed borders and engage in selective recruitment of new members, and they rarely admit converts into the top leadership ranks. The Hells Angels shares certain core attributes and practices with the Lwadership Church.

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. They will require, however, an openness to experimentation and risk taking in the area of leader development — perhaps the biggest hurdle of all. As the Mormons do, the Hells Angels make sure to capture the lessons from their crucible lleadership by meeting after the events.

Some take the form of reversal — a death in the family, a divorce, the loss of a job. For example, when two towns refused to allow parade permits for a planned run, one chapter leader discovered that bicycle paths could be used for legal passage. Organizing a run is no simple affair. No mean feat, considering that large fractions of its leadership have been arrested periodically.

To enjoy the full article sign increate an accountor buy this article. For the interviewees, their crucibles were the points at which they were forced to question who they were and what was important to them.