Friday, April 9, 2010

Book Review By Prof.M.S.Rao – “Gurus On Leadership” Authored By Mark A. Thomas (Publisher – Viva Books Private Limited)

“There comes a time in life when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.” – Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King

I have read the book titled “Gurus On Leadership” authored by Mark A. Thomas (Publisher – Viva Books Private Limited). The author preludes the book with the fall-out of Enron and lists out several corporate scandals such as Rite Aid, Tyco, Imclone Systems, Global Crossing and Computer Associates.
The author outlines the devastating effect of leaders in companies such as Mirror Group, Polly Peck, Marconi, Equitable Life, Marks and Spencer and British Airways. The author says, “During the Enron and Wall Street scandals both The Economist and Business Week magazines sought to address the leadership issue in depth.”

What Does the Book Provide?

The book provides the profiles and contributions of various leadership gurus who put the domain of leadership on the global map. They are: John Adair – Action Centred Leadership, Warren Bennis –The ‘Dean of leadership gurus’, Robert Blake and Jane Mouton, Ken Blanchard – the one minute manager, David Brent – a modern leadership icon, Peter Drucker – management by objectives, Fred Fiedler – the contingency theory man, Daniel Goleman – the emotional intelligence man, Paul Hersey – Situational leadership, Manfred Kets de Vries – the psychology of leadership, John Kotter – Leaders and change, James Kouzes and Barry Posner – leadership and followership Nicolo Machiavelli – The Prince, Abraham Maslow – the motivation man, Douglas McGregor – Theory X and Theory Y (the carrot and stick approach), David McClelland – Achievement, affiliation and power motivation, Tom Peters- the revolutionary leadership guru, WJ Reddin – Three dimensional leadership grid, Tannenbaum and Schmidt – the leadership continuum and Abraham Zaleznick – leadership versus management.

Takeaways from Leadership Gurus:

We shall briefly look at the takeaways from leadership gurus.

John Adair – Action Centered Leadership (ACL):

John Adair became the world’s first Professor of Leadership Studies at the University of Surrey and is regularly cited as one of the world’s most influential contributors to leadership development and understanding. From his works, you can expect to learn about leadership from a wide array of history’s greats including Napoleon, Lao Tzu, Alexander the Great, Lawrence of Arabia, Gandhi and Charles de Gaulle.

He coined Action Centered Leadership model which is represented by three inter-locking circles encompassing the following:

1. Achieving the task
2. Building and maintaining the team
3. Developing the individual

He also talks about the 50:50 Rule where 50% of motivation comes from within a person and 50% from their environment, especially from the leadership encountered therein.

Warren Bennis – ‘The Dean of Leadership Gurus’:

“Leaders are people who do the right things; managers are people who do things right.”

Warren Bennis was designated as ‘The Dean of leadership gurus’ by Forbes magazine. Abraham Maslow who was a leadership guru described Bennis as “one of the Olympian minds of our time”.

For Bennis a leader is someone who is: capable of creating an inspiring vision, an excellent communicator, aware of what challenges have to be met, comfortable with change, confusion and constructive conflict, able to balance the short and long-term and a model for integrity. He outlines four competencies that determine the success of a new leader:

1. The new leader understands and practices the power of appreciation
2. The new leader keeps reminding people of what is important
3. The new leader sustains and generates trust
4. The new leader and the led are intimate allies

Robert Blake and Jane Mouton – The Grid People:

Robert Blake and Jane Mouton originally developed The Managerial Grid in 1962 as an organization development model. It contains five styles such as task master manager, country club manager, impoverished manager, dampened pendulum manager and team manager. The task master manager style is described as the very pushy and demanding leader – perhaps characterized as the autocrat. The country club manager style is more of people oriented and less of task orientation. The impoverished manager style is a situation where the managers or leaders avoid all decisions and responsibility. The dampened pendulum manager style can be best described as the middle of the road manager, someone who alternates between the two task and people dimensions and tries to steer a middle course. Finally the team manager style describes the manager who effectively integrates people around the task demands.

Ken Blanchard – The One Minute Manager:

Dr. Ken Blanchard is a prominent author, speaker and business consultant. He is often described as one of the most insightful, powerful and compassionate gurus in the business world.

Blanchard’s books are unashamedly simple and clear in both style and content. His classic One Minute Manager book which he co-authored with Spencer Johnson (who subsequently went on to write the equally famous and successful Who Moved My Cheese? book on change management) epitomized his approach. The One Minute Manager outlines an approach to ‘one minute goal setting’, ‘one minute praising’ and ‘one minute reprimand’.

David Brent – A Modern Leadership Icon:

His famous slogan, “Quitters never win, winners never quit. But those who never win and never quit are idiots.”

He says, “What does a squirrel do in the summer? It buries nuts, Why? Because then in winter-time he’s got something to eat and he won’t die. So, collecting nuts in the summer is worthwhile work. Every task you do in work think, would a squirrel do that? Think squirrels think nuts.”

Remember the three golden rules:

1. It was like that when I got here
2. I didn’t do it
3. (To your Boss) I like your style

Peter Drucker – Management By Objectives:

“There is no substitute for leadership. But management cannot create leaders. It can only create the conditions under which potential leadership qualities become effective; or it can stifle potential leadership.”

Peter Drucker was born in Austria in 1909 and is probably the most renowned business and management guru in the world today. The Harvard Business Review described him as “Father of modern management, social commentator and pre-eminent business philosopher”.

It was his work ‘The Concept of the Corporation’ that Drucker first mentioned his famous concept of management by objectives (MBO). This was a management term that became synonymous with Drucker. He argued hat all managers should be driven by objectives.

Peter Drucker takes the famous leadership of Genghis Khan, “Of an officer I expect that he takes care of the men before he takes care of himself. Of a general I expect that he takes care of his horse before he takes care of his men”. Another quote of Peter Drucker is “Leadership is not rank, privileges, title or money. It is responsibility.”

Fred Fiedler – The Contingency Theory Man:

According to Fiedler, there is no ideal leader. Both low-LPC (task-oriented) and high-LPC (relationship-oriented) leaders can be effective if their leadership orientation fits the situation. Three components determine what Fiedler termed the level of situational favourableness or control:

1. Leader-member relationships: the degree to which the employees accept the leader.
2. Task structure: the degree and level of detail to which subordinate roles and jobs are defined.
3. Position power: the amount of formal authority a leader possesses by virtue of their position in the organization.

Fiedler found that low-LPC leaders are more effective in extremely favourable or unfavourable situations, whereas high-LPC leaders perform best in situations with intermediate favorability.

His work and theory advocates that:

• The favourableness of leadership situations should be assessed in determining leadership effectiveness.
• Candidates for leadership positions should be evaluated using the LPC scale.
• If a leader is being identified for a particular position, then a leader with an appropriate LPC profile should be chosen (task-oriented for very favourable or very unfavourable situations and relationship-oriented for intermediate favourablenss).
• If a leadership situation is being chosen for a particular candidate, a situation (work team, department, etc.) should be chosen which matches their LPC profile (very favourable or unfavourable for task-oriented leaders and intermediate favourableness for relationship-orientated leader).

Daniel Goleman – The Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Man:

His work cites five components emotional intelligence (EQ) such as self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. He developed his concept to specifically look at leadership and to examine how EQ might influence a leadership style. He developed six possible approaches: visionary leadership, coaching leadership, affiliative leadership, democratic leadership, pace setting leadership and commanding leadership.

Paul Hersey – Situational Leadership:

Hersey says that effective leaders adapt their style to suit different situations. His model proposes four generic leadership styles in which he differentiates between directive and supporting strategies. They are telling, selling, participating and delegating. In telling style, there is high task and low relationship where the leader uses the style closely controls the work of their staff and acts quickly to correct and re-direct any falls in performance. In selling style, there is high task and high relationship. The leader uses this style shows concern for the task as well as staff relationships. In participating style, there is low task and high relationship. The leader uses this style allows people to manage their own work. And finally in delegating style there is low task ad low relationship. The leader uses this style effectively liberates or empowers people to define problems and develop solutions by themselves.

Manfred Kets de Vries – The Psychology of Leadership:

Unlike many other leadership gurus Kets e Vries probes deeper into the human psyche and explores the ‘darker side’ of leadership, along with notions of the narcissistic personality and charisma.

His leadership work has led him to explore in depth the leadership styles of many current and recent leadership icons including Richard Branson (Virgin), Percy Barnevik (formerly of ABB) Jack Welch (formerly GE), Walt Disney and Ernest Saunders (formerly of Guiness).

He is quoted as saying that many leaders are hooked on the four ‘Ps’ namely Power, (the) Podium, Perks and Praise. In citing some reasons for leadership incompetence he cites:

1. The unwillingness to exercise authority – which may result in either the avoidance of conflict situations or the constant need to be liked.
2. The tyranny of subordinates as caused by an excessively abrasive set of behaviours.
3. Micro-management and the obsession with detail.
4. Overly political game playing.

His checklist of excellent leadership practices includes the following:

• Provide vision
• Are strong communicators
• Create high levels of trust
• Acquire emotional intelligence (EQ)
• Motivate and stretch people
• Build teams
• Provide constructive feedback
• Modify their narcissistic needs to the benefit of the organization.
• Are persistent and decisive
• Are good time managers
• Possess a sense of humour

John Kotter – The Leader and Change:

“Most organizations are over-managed and under led.”

Harvard Business School professor John P Kotter runs a close second to Warren Bennis’ mantel as the world’s foremost leadership guru. He covers change management from leadership perspective. He identifies eight critical stages that leaders need to follow in order to achieve effective organizational transformation. The stages are: establish a sense of urgency, form a powerful guiding coalition, create a vision, communicate that vision, empower others to act on the vision, plan for and create short-term wins, consolidate improvements and keep the momentum for change moving and institutionalize the new approaches.

James M Kouzes and Barry Posner – Leadership and Followership:

“Leadership is in the eye of the follower.”

Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner are major researchers, award-winning writers and consultants in the field of leadership and executive development. Posner is a renowned scholar who has published more than 80 research and practitioner-oriented articles in journals such as ‘The Academy of Management Journal’, ‘’Journal of Applied Psychology’, ‘Human Relations and Personnel Psychology’. Both Kouzes and Posner are frequent conference speakers and have conducted leadership development programmes for hundreds of organizations.

Based on 20 years of research they have distilled five simple principles of leadership which they term as: model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act and encourage the heart. For them leadership is about stretching thinking and extending views of what is possible beyond the rational and scientific approach to business. Precisely, leadership is all about creating emotional connection with people.

Nicolo Machiavelli – The Prince:

“Leadership is best for a leader to be loved but if they cannot be loved they must be feared.”

Nicolo Machiavelli was born in Florence, Italy at a time when the country was in political disarray. Italy was divided between four dominant city-states and each of these was subject to intense foreign interference.

He was the first champion of opportunism over morality. Let us look at few of his quotes that convey his ideas.

“A leader should know how to enter into evil when necessity commands”.
“It is necessary for a prince to have all the virtues, but necessary to appear to have them.”

Abraham Maslow – The Motivation Man:

American psychologist, Dr. Abraham Maslow was one of the original founders of human psychology and played a key role of helping leaders understand the concept of motivation. He came out with hierarchy of needs where human look for next higher order need once their needs are met. The list of needs that starts are: physiological needs, safety need belongingness and love, esteem, cognitive, aesthetic and self-actualization.

Douglas McGregor-The Theory X and Theory Y Man:

“The motivation, the potential for development, the capacity for assuming responsibility….are all present in people. Management does not put them there.”
He coined the Theory X and Y where Theory X is inherently lazy and will avoid work if they can. They must be driven, directed, coerced, controlled, or threatened with punishment in order to get them to work as their organization requires. Theory X says that the average human being prefers to be directed, wishes to avoid responsibility, has relatively little ambition and wants security above all else.

On the contrary, the Theory Y says that ordinary person does not dislike work: according to conditions it may be a source of satisfaction or punishment. The average human being learns, under proper conditions, not only to accept but also to seek responsibility.

David McClelland – Achievement, Affiliation and Power Motivation:

David McClelland described three types of fundamental motivational needs, which he identified in his book, Human Motivation: Achievement Motivation, Power Motivation and Affiliation Motivation.

He identified power motivation as the most complex and he detailed four specific types of power motivation:

• Stage one power is a desire to something or someone that is perceived as powerful and influential. For some people this could be a job role such as Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive.
• Stage two power is about feeling in control and maintaining your independence regardless of anyone else. Managers who take full control and do not worry about challenges or threats from others are good examples.
• Stage three power motivation is the motive most closely associated with leadership and management. This individual is motivated by the act of directing or influencing other people.
• Stage four power reflects inter-depedence – a desire not to control or influence people directly but simply to act as a conduit for liberating other people to assume greater things.

Tom Peters – The Revolutionary Leadership Guru:

Warren Bennis once said, “If Peter Drucker invented modern management, Tom Peters vivified it”.

It is the energy and radical fervour of Tom Peters that has set him apart from all other gurus. He was a solider. He holds many honorary degrees including one from the State University of Moscow.

Both Tom Peters and Robert ‘Bob’ Waterman wrote a book titled ‘In Search of Excellence’. The book cited 43 excellent companies and included names such as IBM, Hewlett Packard and 3M. It is now generally regarded as a business classic. The book highlighted a model called the 7S Model, to diagnose the various efforts of the excellent companies. The model focused on the so called ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ aspects of management effort. Up until then it was left that the hard S’s – strategy, structure and systems-dominated management thinking. What Peters and Waterman did was to make everyone aware of the soft S’s – shared values, style of management, skills and staff.

WJ Reddin – Three Dimensional Leadership Grid:

He is best known for the 3-D theory of management. He described eight types of leadership styles. They are:

1. The Deserter, who has none or only a minimum of the three characteristics.
2. The Bureaucrat, who has effectiveness only.
3. The Missionary, who only has a relationship orientation.
4. The Developer, who has both effectiveness and relationship orientations.
5. The Autocrat, who only has a task orientation.
6. The Benevolent Autocrat, who has both effectiveness and task orientations.
7. The Compromiser, who has both task and relationship orientations.
8. The Manager (Executive), who has all three characteristics.

Tannenbaum and Schmidt – The Leadership Continuum:

They argued that three factors have to be considered by any leader such as manager forces, subordinate forces and situational forces. They identified the seven leadership behaviours or levels as follows:

1. The manager decides and announces the decision.
2. The manager decides and then ‘sells’ the decision to the group.
3. The manager presents the decision with background ideas and invites questions.
4. The manager suggests a provisional decision and invites discussion about it.
5. The manager presents the situation or problem obtains suggestions and then decides.
6. The manager explains the situation defines the parameters and asks the team to decide.
7. The manager allows the team to identify the problem, develop the options and decide on the action, within the manager’s received limits.

Abraham Zaleznik – Leadership Versus Management:

“Leadership is made of substance, humanity and morality and we are painfully short of all three qualities in our collective lives.”

He differentiates between managers and leaders. His Harvard Business Review article entitled, ‘Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?’ received the McKinsey award for the best Harvard Business Review article in 1977 and was re-published as a classic in 1992. Earlier and later articles received the same recognition.

According to him, management is all about operating in a culture that ‘emphasizes rationality and control”. He went to argue that in his type of environment and organization “it takes neither genius or nor heroism to be a manager, but rather persistence, tough mindedness, hard work, intelligence, analytical ability and, perhaps most important, tolerance and goodwill.”

At the end of the book it unfolds succinctly the successive setbacks of Abraham Lincoln who ultimately became the 16th President of America. It outlines the leadership attributes by John Gardener such as physical vitality and stamina, intelligence and action oriented judgement, eagerness to accept responsibility, task competence, understanding of followers and their needs, skills in dealing with people, need for achievement, capacity to motivate people, courage and resolution, trustworthiness, decisiveness, self-confidence, assertiveness and adaptability/flexibility. It concludes with several quotes about leadership.


“Leadership is the lifting of a man’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a man’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a man’s personality beyond its normal limitations.” – Peter Drucker

The book is worth reading for beginners who have passion for leadership and would like to grow in the domain of leadership. It outlines ideas and insights about leadership It is worth investing your time to know various facets of leadership and the contributions of leadership gurus precisely.. It is also a must for busy executives, leadership practitioners, faculties and students.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...