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Towards Creating A Perfect Leader

The authors’ attempt to link leadership development to Manthan, as a process of deep, inner churning for self-realisation and introspection, to attain intrinsic development, is truly commendable

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In these times when there is an abundance of leadership development material in the field, ‘Manthan: The Art and Science of Developing Leaders’ stands apart, because of the fresh approach it takes. The authors have drawn from the vast treasures of Indian heritage, culture of growth and scriptures, to elicit rich leadership development concepts and practices, specifically for the Indian business landscape. It is evident that leadership development in companies has been attempted as a quick-fix across different levels of the organisation, fuelled by a massive surge in the growth of Indian companies. Many companies have expanded exponentially and this has led to a hasty focus on developing leadership at all levels. The book looks at the past and surmises that we expect our leaders to be omnipotent, king-like, or 'Sarva Guna Sampanna', someone who possesses everything required to be the 'perfect' leader.

Why the title “Manthan”? The word Manthan originates from Sanskrit which means "churning", in reference to the most significant churning of the ocean by Devas (Gods) and Asuras (Demons), to get hold of the Elixir of life or the nectar of immortality. The ‘Devas’ and ‘Asuras’ represent the positive and negative energy of one’s self, respectively. The positive energies lead an individual to be virtuous, ethical, humble and self-aware. On the other hand, negative energy includes ego, greed, power, status, wealth and the delusion of becoming supreme. The book compares leaders with Devas and Asuras who need to churn their personality to achieve self-realisation and highlights concentration as the rope that helps make the churn successful.

Compiled by K.K Sinha, Ajay Soni and Indranil Mitra, ‘Manthan’ introduces each leadership challenge with a solution. Each chapter is coupled with real stories about people and organisations that readers can easily relate to. The book explores seven important aspects of leadership roles and development. It includes critical topics including: Leadership: the India way; The Indian leadership DNA and leadership in today’s time; developing future leaders; succession management; building global leaders in uncertain times; leading transformation; and driving innovation and building diversity.

Within these sections, the book covers a diverse set of leadership issues.  The starting chapters introduce basic issues and concepts while the later sections deal with increasingly complex concerns of leadership development. Each section starts with an editor’s treatise, followed by dissertations by eminent industry leaders through multiple vistas.

The authors’ attempt to link leadership development to Manthan, as a process of deep, inner churning for self-realisation and introspection, to attain intrinsic development, is truly commendable.

To me, the highlights of the book, among many other aspects are the following: dealing with leadership development for the Indian context; delving into matters beyond the obvious and providing in-depth treatment; and enlightening the reader with profound analysis of leadership concepts from the Hindu scriptures.

In the present context, it is imperative that leaders exhibit authenticity, humility, listening, presence and influencing skills, to name a few. In today’s busy world, where leaders are bombarded by short-term challenges, the above mentioned traits tend to fall by the wayside. Also, they tend to get ignored or handled only at a surface level in most leadership development books and programmes, but are dealt with precision and depth in Manthan, supported by treaties from exemplary business leaders of high profile organisations.

The book provides a diamond nugget, a clear model, to satisfy the hunger of leaders at all levels. A must read for anyone aspiring to succeed in the world of leadership.

Book details: Manthan: Art & Science of Developing Leaders; edited by K.K. Sinha, Ajay Soni, Indranil Mitra; Published by Bloomsbury

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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K. Nageswara Rao

The reviewer is Vice President – Engineering, Asia Pacific Technology Centers, Unisys

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