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BW Businessworld

Lead Review: Perform, Persevere

The book espouses a universal model of leadership, which the authors claim is the first fully integrated model of leadership development

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Mastering leadership promises an integrated framework for breakthrough performance and extraordinary business results. Authors Bob Anderson and William Adams have penned this book for CEOs and senior leaders who know that leadership effectiveness drives organisational performance.

The book espouses a universal model of leadership, which the authors claim is the first fully integrated model of leadership development. Tall as the claim seems, they try hard to develop the model progressively as the book unfolds. It is a good attempt, but it would be too charitable to allow a claim on the universality of the model. The authors focus on their many years of experience in understanding what extraordinary leaders do, their competencies, and how they developed such mastery. They then try to connect leadership effectiveness with business results. So far, so good. The book then meanders into research and metrics including psychometric / statistical analysis trying to link business performance to leadership effectiveness. This is where some of the content starts to get heavy, and somewhat burdensome.

The coverage of Karen Horney’s character structures: Heart, Head, Will types and the importance of complying, protecting, controlling, relating, awareness and achieving makes for interesting reading. Similarly, Kegan’s Development Model, the analysis of immunity to change and the stages of developmental psychology linked to adult development, are insightful. The hypothesis here is that businesses do not transform, people do. So, they attempt to provide a pathway to a long-term and systematic approach to developing individual and collective leadership. The book emphasises that transformation is an acquired taste and not for the fainthearted.

A lot of the diagrams in the book, like on LCP and profiling, look impressive but are not intelligible to a common reader. Most of these require domain expertise, both to comprehend and to imbibe. Nevertheless, interesting concepts like VUCA are well explained in the context of market disruption. The development therefore of ‘Adaptive Challenge’ through a set of interdependent challenges that are seemingly unsolvable are well theorised.

I particularly liked the part where the authors discuss the realisation that we are all made up of many disparate and conflicting parts. Hence, have a shadow side; a part of us that we have ignored and not developed. We therefore, tend to identify with certain strengths, over develop them, and underdevelop others. These underdeveloped aspects of ourselves go into the shadow.

The authors repeatedly say that integral leaders see the unresolvedness, conflict, and dysfunction “out there” as a mirror of what is “in here”. Interesting anecdotes like those of Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev liven up the narrative but they are few and far between. The book is an academic tome meant for serious practitioners of organisa-tional behaviour and orga-nisation development.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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books book review magazine 18 april 2016 wiley leadership

Dr Sandeep Goyal

The author was Founder Chairman of Dentsu India. He has authored Konjo – The Fighting Spirit and Japan Made Easy, both Harper Collins publications, on his 25 years of working with Japan.

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