Thursday, September 23, 2010

Professor M.S.Rao’s Book Review Titled “Understanding Leadership Competencies – Creating Tomorrow’s Leaders”

The book titled ‘Understanding Leadership Competencies – Creating Tomorrow’s Leaders” authored by Patricia Guggenheimer and Mary Diana Szulc is a thin book with valuable takeaways about leadership competencies.

The book unfolds leadership competencies, discusses personal qualities of leaders and the actions that competent leaders take. It contains activities, exercises, assessments that are easy to understand and apply in practical life.

According to the authors, there are nine leadership competencies such as passion, humor, courage, integrity and trust, energy/vitality/enthusiasm, building a team, setting priorities, creativity and vision. The book provides the meanings of the competencies from Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Let us look at the same:

• “Competence: possession of required skill, knowledge, qualification, or capacity; having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge, experience, etc., for some purpose.”
• “Passion: emotion; the emotions as distinguished from reason; intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction; a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept; an emotion that is deeply stirring or ungovernable.”
• “Humor: an often temporary state of mind imposed esp. b circumstances; … the mental faculty of discovering, expressing, or appreciating the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous.”
• “Courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
• “Integrity: firm adherence to a code of esp. moral or artistic values
• “Trust: to rely on the truthfulness or accuracy of.”
• “Energy: the capacity of acting or being active … the capacity for doing work.”
• “Vitality: power to live or grow.”
• “Enthusiasm: strong excitement of feeling.”
• “Build: to develop according to a systematic plan, by a definite process, or on a particular base.”
• “Team: a number of persons associated together in work or activity.”
• “Setting: the manner, position, or direction in which something is set.”
• “Priority: a preferential rating; esp. one that allocates right to goods and services usually in limited supply.”
• “Creativity: the quality of being creative; marked by the ability or power to create.”
• “Vision: something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy; an object of imagination; act or power of imagination; mode of seeing or conceiving; unusual discernment or foresight.”

The book unfolds amazing exercises on integrity and trust wherein you need to pick up the values and passions you like. You need to check whether you have the same or not and then start acquiring. It grills you at core and gets the best out of you. It contains several visual pictures for better understanding. It outlines few quotes such as:

"Humor can be dissected, as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind." - E.B. White
“Enthusiasm finds the opportunities and energy makes the most of them.” – Henry S. Haskins

In addition, the authors take the reference of Terry Paulson’s ‘Making Humor Work: Take Your Job Seriously and Yourself Lightly, “It is dangerous to confuse professionalism with seriousness. You can take your job and your world seriously, and still take yourself lightly.”

What Do Authors Say?

1. Excellence is measured one step at a time, and it all begins with effort.
2. Recognize that sometimes we have to “stretch” ourselves to make a positive difference in the lives of others.
3. In today’s busy world, it is difficult to set priorities.
4. The goal of the organization is not to lose, because you are right, and to minimize the damage to the organization’s reputation. If you lose, you may have to pay severe penalties or, worse, declare bankruptcy, not to mention the enormous amount spent to defend your position.
5. The goal of any institution or individual is not to win a battle at the expense of losing the war.
6. People who have energy, vitality and enthusiasm are involved and pursue goals passionately. They put their hearts as well as their minds into their endeavors resulting in personal and professional fulfillment.

Sometimes we need to jump-start the creative process, by engaging our brain in a different thought process. Consider using mind mapping as a tool to stimulate creativity. Mind Mapping is a powerful graphic technique that provides a key to unlocking the brain’s potential. The Mind Map can be applied to every aspect of life in which improved learning and clearer thinking will enhance human performance. The Mind Map has four essential characteristics:

1. The subject of attention is crystallized in a central image.
2. The main themes of the subject radiate from the central image as branches.
3. Branches constitute a key image or key word printed on an associated line. Topics of lesser importance are also represented as branches attached to higher-level branches.
4. The branches form a connected nodal structure.


The book helps readers in presenting the leadership competencies and also in building their competencies through resources, exercises and self-assessment techniques. It is useful to the aspiring leaders who don’t have lot of time to refer number of books. The ideas and insights are well punched. The book is worth investing your precious time. To conclude, it is a good book that deserves to be widely read.


From The Mind Map Book by Tony Buzan & Barry Buzan, New York, Copyright 1993 by Tony Buzan & Barry Buzan.

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