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There always has been a sense of curiosity or inquisitiveness that search of an answer as to who can tell what it really takes to be an effective leader, could it be the most successful CEOs.  From inside the minds of top CEOs of India, here are invaluable lessons on the most significant aspects of leadership.  This compilation of short personal narratives by iconic business leaders tells us how even the most accomplished leaders had to discover their leadership calling and develop their traits with conscious initiative and practice.

Most leadership literature is too formal or didactic.  However, that always need to be remembered is that leadership, however, is not and will never be a one size -fits-all concept.  This book is born out of the need for learning the art of Leadership from the unique examples of the most successful leaders.  With contributions from celebrated business leaders like Raghav Bahl, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Tarun Das, Adi Godrej, Chanda Kochhar, R.A. Mashelkar, N.R. Narayana Murthy, Deepak Parekh, and M.V. Subbiah, this book leads the reader to appreciate the journey of the these leaders from being undistinguished individuals to becoming celebrated corporate luminaries; to draw inspiration and learn from their struggles and achievements.

It is relatively easy to identify and recognise good leaders, while it is difficult to define what constitutes good leadership.  In this context the book under review, published by All India Management Association is a significant contribution to the literature.  It is a compilation of short personal narratives by iconic business leaders of their leadership beliefs and experiences.  This book is an account of leadership experiences in the real world.  Nine outstanding leaders have spelt out their perceptions of what is good leadership.  The professional experience of each one of them per se is a lesson in leadership.

To include a few among all is N.R. Narayanamurthy, an iconic institution-builder.  Along with six other like-minded founding fathers he established Infosys in 1981.  His word of advice is that take your work seriously, but do not take yourself too seriously.  Deepak Parekh is identified with the creation and growth of HDFC, which he did step by step.  According to Parekh, leadership is all about moving ahead with two basic instruments, the compass and the clock.  One which confirms the direction you are moving in and the other tells you how fast you will get there.  Chanda Kochhar has emerged as an exemplary career woman, working her way up in ICICI, starting as a management trainee and rising up to the apex level.  Her message is simple, leadership is best learnt experientially by taking on challenges and seeking out opportunities.  Two of them, Adi Godrej, and Kumar Mangalam Birla were born into entrepreneurial families and succeeded to the corporate throne in due course of time.  Adi Godrej is a firm believer in teamwork as he states it takes two to tango.  Another paradigm close to his heart is that the key lies in thinking about the future backwards, not the present forward.  Kumar Mangalam Birla talks about five turning points in our journey of transformation, the first being the passing away of his father when he was only 28, filling in the shoes of a legendary icon was a tough task while learning is a continuous, life-long process, during major turning points, the intensity and force of learning takes a quantum leap.

MY TAKE:  I would highly recommend this book as a must read if you have the hunger in the belly but the direction path looks little hazy.  The excerpts of each renowned individual is really inspiring and worth following.  The corporate leaders coming from all walks of life is a really a good mix bag.  Who knows, life could take a new leap after you go through the book…!



TITLE:  Leaders On Leadership: Insights From Corporate India

AUTHOR:  All India Management Association

PUBLISHER:  Response Books

LANGUAGE:  English

NO. OF PAGES:  148

PRICE:  Rs. 295


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