September 16, 2020

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 can occur on and off the job. But as businesses continue to need a well-stocked pipeline of future leaders, and as more begin to recognize the power of experience-based leadership development, the necessary change in mind-set is more likely to occur. For that project, I interviewed 70 leaders in business, the performing arts and sports and analyzed stories from dozens more in order to understand better the dynamics adn experiential leadershlp.

The authors’ recent research suggests that benniis of the most reliable indicators and predictors of true leadership is the ability to learn from even the most negative experiences. For example, before they leave for their particular postings, missionaries get intensive training in language, culture and pedagogical technique. Most companies stay within a narrow comfort zone. No mean feat, considering that large fractions of its leadership have been arrested periodically.

Crucibles of leadership.

Some take the form of reversal — a death in the family, a divorce, the loss of a job. Moreover, runs invariably cross territorial boundaries between different clubs, many of which are hostile. A brief analysis of these organizationally instigated crucibles shows how they contribute to experience-based leader development. Crucibles of Leadership Development peter July 24, The Hells Angels shares certain core attributes and practices with the Mormon Church. Surprisingly, the best examples of organizations that deliberately employ such alchemy do not come from the business world.


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. Return from the mission is a time of renewal for the individuals and for the organization.

Support, in the form of senior companions, enables missionaries to navigate through uncertain situations and to weather the inevitable homesickness. In each phase, the church emphasizes the acquisition of technical skills and learning skills. The period after return also is recognized as an opportunity for reflection. Crucibles of Leadership Development thomzs July 24, I totally agree. Crucible experiences, when properly set up, managed and mined, can help aspiring companies develop their next generation of outstanding leaders.

The Mormons and the Hells Angels follow that approach with crucibles of leadership development.

Leaders learn how to lead from experience. A Hells Angel chapter leader explained this to me in vivid language: Crucible experiences can be thought of as a kind of superconcentrated form of leadership development.

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

Leaders are rarely recruited from the outside, and candidates undergo both a careful screening process and critical crucible experiences. For the interviewees, their crucibles were the points leafership which they were forced to question who they were and what was important to them. In interviewing more than 40 leaders in business and the public sector over bnnis 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.


Runs typically stretch hundreds of miles along public thoroughfares. Yet neither suffers from a weak leadership gene pool. The Hells Angels gets similar results from its own method of experience-based leader development. Others involve a suspension, an in-between period that people go through while in graduate school, boot camp, unemployment — even jail.

Demonstrating the ability to organize and successfully manage a motorcycle run. These experiences made them stronger and more confident and changed their sense of purpose in some fundamental way.

Veteran members recall past runs and judge current ones accordingly. Like all crucible experiences, these stories are highly specific to the individuals in question. Missionary work is the principal mechanism of that growth.

Crucibles of Leadership Development

Who else is going to tell him that he [messed] up but his family? Special parties are organized to welcome missionaries home. Alternately reviled and mythologized, the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is perhaps best known for two things: Crucibls have closed borders and engage in selective recruitment of new members, and they rarely admit converts into the top leadership ranks.

These are not esoteric or hard-to-implement lessons. For example, Toyota, Boeing, General Electric and MIT through its Leaders leaddrship Manufacturing program have put programs into place specifically to take advantage of experiential learning.