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BW Businessworld

Book Review: New Age Leadership

Transcendental leaders are those who bring about transformational change — change that results in transforming the leader and the followers. Although this distinction and the author’s preference for transcendental leaders is the basic premise of the book, it does precious little to clearly present the distinction between transcendental leaders and transformational leaders.

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G K. Jayaram, the founding chairman of Infosys, has served effectively in leadership positions and has worked in the sphere of leadership development for over four decades. This gives him sufficient credentials to write How To Help An Elephant Make A U-Turn: A New Approach to Leadership and Transformational Change (Rupa)

The reader is introduced to the concept of revolution of rising expectations (RORE) that represent the rising expectations of the population in emerging markets, and the spiral of reduced expectations (SORE) in the developed economies. The book suggests that these two dramatic changes coupled with the increased promise of and belief in equality (PROBE) will require leaders around the world to be transcendental leaders and not mere transformational leaders.

Transcendental leaders are those who bring about transformational change — change that results in transforming the leader and the followers. Although this distinction and the author’s preference for transcendental leaders is the basic premise of the book, it does precious little to clearly present the distinction between transcendental leaders and transformational leaders.

Nonetheless, the book has other interesting offerings. It is interspersed with quotes from various business leaders and deals with the oft-repeated question of “whether leadership can be taught or is it an innate trait?”

One of the quotes from Rajiv Kuchhal (former COO, OnMobile), deals with the question is succinct manner. It equates leadership to a sport. Everyone can run, but not become an Olympic runner without being a natural with a lots of practice hours to back that natural talent. However, consistent practice can make anyone a good runner. Similarly, some are born with natural leadership abilities, while some others continue to practice and become aware of their ability which then allows them to become leaders. This is an interesting observation regarding the “natural leader v. taught leader” debate.

At its best the book offers interesting insights into the essential ingredients of leadership and tremendous learning for young leaders from the experience of various established and effective business leaders. However, it undoubtedly fails to achieve the lofty purpose it set for itself — to transform the reader into one’s own guru on transcendental leadership by the end of the book.

Koshy is Partner, Luthra & Luthra Law Offices

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 14-12-2015)


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