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The Secret Tool

The book is perfect for senior managers, members of HR L&D community, executive trainers, consultants, professors of OD and leadership studies

What do simon sinek’s TED Talk, World Wars and German military have in common? The answer is a word called “Auftragstaktiker” or “Mission Command”, which is explained in Brian Dive’s Mission Mastery. Sinek’s TED talk of 2009 describes that successful leaders or organisations outline the “what” and “why” better than others. By doing so, the “how” becomes more effective for the organisation. He gives examples of Apple to prove his point. The reader will also discover that this concept of leadership was originally coined in a strategic treatise written by a German military commander way back in 1871. Dive’s book builds over that treatise and argues that modern leadership practices followed in corporations are flawed as they focus primarily only on behavioural and cognitive aspects of leadership. They treat a leader as a superhero who will solve every problem and lead his team to success. Instead, the book endorses the Mission Mastery framework of leadership that is built on decision-making accountability, strong organisation structures, open communication and empowerment across all the levels. These pillars are essential to the creation of a “learning organisation” which has the ability to think, react, decide and implement a task as a whole to achieve the mission mastery. And this, the author believes, is the 100-year-old secret that modern corporations should imbibe to achieve more success.

The book can be a little dry to a reader who either has no interest in OB/OD/leadership areas or does not like being called a “civilian”. But to those who enjoy dwelling in academic history to find out hidden secrets of leadership, this book will be an absolute delight. The first chapter briefly outlines the history of the German military and explains how the term “Mission Mastery” played a vital role in their military supremacy in the late 19th and early 20th century. It also highlights how the British Royal Navy applied the same leadership secret and turned around their position in WW II, which changed the course of history as we know it today. Chapters 2 and 3 go deeper into the concept and outline the five pillars of implementing Mission Mastery. The heart of the book are Chapters 3 -7, which describe the five pillars of mission mastery in details. Finally, Chapter 8 gives a tool set called the decision-making accountability solution set for managers to implement the mission mastery in an organisation.

The book is perfect for senior managers, members of HR L&D community, executive trainers, consultants, professors of OD and leadership studies. It not only outlines the theory and the framework, but also gives a step-by-step guide on how to implement the framework. The book can serve as useful reference for any organisation that is looking at creating a successful learning organisation. Each chapter has a bibliography of books, articles and papers, which are rich sources of literature on the subject. Examples relevant to Asian and Indian ecosystem could be explored in a new book.

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 19 september 2016 SPRINGER


Rakesh Godhwani

Rakesh is an Adjunct Faculty at IIM-B, and is the author of What to Say and When to Shut Up!

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