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Book Review: Geeks and Geezers by Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas

September 1, 2003

Geeks and GeezersGeeks & Geezers by Warren G. Bennis and Robert J. Thomas is about how Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders. And it does an excellent job of pointing out the differences between our generations. This Harvard Business School Press publication is definitely useful in understanding the way folks in my parents’ generation (the Geezers) react to those in my children’s generation (Geek) . Based on their definitions for Geeks and Geezers, I am in between the two, yet most of my acquaintances put me in the Geek category due to my love of and work in the world of technology.

The basic premise of this book is that all leaders must go through a “crucible” of some kind. The kind of leadership characteristics we have may be different because of our environments (Geezers defined by WWII, Parental fallibility, etc. and Geeks by abundance, opportunity, technology and globalization), but every leader is tested somehow. The different environments and experiences affects the needs, wants, character and maturation process for these people and therefore define the differences in leadership style.

After exploring historical experiences and interviewing both groups, the authors complete their leadership model with Era and Individual factors feeding into the crucible of Experiences. The crucible heats up experiences and organization of meaning that develops Leadership competencies. The crucible might be military service in the case of the Geezer of business failure in the case of the Geeks, but whatever that life changing crucible is, it is the one thing that is common to leadership. This book is worth your time and consideration if for no other reason than to understand the value of the crucible we may now be going through in our contracting economy – this so called job-less recovery.

Click to see it at Amazon.

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