Warren Bennis and Steve Sample both were spectacularly successful figures in their own realms and in their own right. But ultimately they were a team, bound together in ways that many casual observers never noticed or appreciated.
Their teamwork produced some of the most extraordinary leadership insights in recent memory—along with impressive results when those insights were put into practice at the University of Southern California, the place they called home for the past quarter century. This book, a intellectual chronicle of that teamwork, is an enduring gift they have left for the rest of us.
When Warren passed away in the summer of 2014, he was eulogized by those in the know as the world's greatest expert on leadership. “When he started writing about leadership in the 1950s the subject was a back road,” The Economist wrote in a moving tribute. “When he died on July 31 it was an eight-lane highway crowded with superstar professors whizzing along in multimillion-dollar muscle cars.”1
But if Warren Bennis was the first and the greatest of the leadership theorists, Steve Sample was one of its most impressive contemporary practitioners. In the foreword to Steve's 2001 Jossey-Bass book, The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership, Warren himself called Steve the best university president in the nation—in fact, “perhaps one of the two or three best of the past half-century.”2
Warren also believed that, because large universities may be more complex, demanding, and ...