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“Little did I imagine that someday Professor Rao will do an empirical study and bring out a book on this subject. The book brings out leadership mindsets so clearly and analyses these based on research and experiential wisdom. The thing that struck me most was the linkage of these styles with the three gunas in Hindu scriptures: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. The book does not prescribe any style but makes the reader think through what his style is and what he would like it to be. Then, it provides the reader with a pair of new glasses and suddenly one starts seeing things in a different perspective.”

Satish Sekhri

Formerly Managing Director

Bosch Chassis Systems Ltd,

Pune, India

(An excerpt from the Foreword to the book)

“I think the leader mindset proposed in the book is “Indian tinted”. As someone from the “West”, I am pleased to enrich my understanding with “your views”. You make a good contribution to enlarge our perspectives on how you see the leader mindset.

Very few of us are internally STRONG to accept negativity; also, the contexts that most of us live with is toxic. So, “I Am Something” approach can be extremely healthy.

When you try to explore the role of human values in the face of Industrial Revolution 4.0 (AI, Robotics, etc), you may consider the fact that the drivers of technology ARE weak in terms of human values.

I think that we are headed towards a phase of self-inflicted extermination, possibly leading to the emergence of a new species. Before the end of this century, we will have ourselves and the others species. We will be creating living beings among us and, little by little, we (little and fragile creatures) will fade away, hopefully graciously. We do not wish to change ourselves. We also do not have the collective will power to change the context in which we operate. So, the next evolutionary step of our civilization may get taken much earlier than most of us may think.”

Marco Paulo Abrunhosa Cardoso 

Serving in boards in different jurisdictions

Finland

“The writing is excellent. As the editor of a journal, I rarely see papers with no errors. Your book is thus a rarity. I initially wondered why some words like “Student” and “Maternalistic” are capitalized. I now realize that there is a meaningful reason behind it.

I see that the style is half-way between a discourse and a scholarly
paper. If you are positioning it as a scholarly paper (like a journal
article or academic book), it certainly needs more references. The book has some quotations which too need references.

This book is obviously positioned as to not tap into management
literature on leadership a lot (at least in part 1). Rather, it offers another way to look at leadership.”

Ram Mohan Pisharodi 

Marketing Professor/Chief Editor, Alliance Journal of Business Research at Oakland University

Greater Detroit Area, USA

“From an Australian’s point of view, I found that the thesis of the book provides a fresh perspective on the issue of leadership – a very sub-continental perspective and interpretation.

It appears that the intent of the book is to provide aspiring (or current) leaders with a way for them to become a happier and more contented person. Greater contentment would lead to a warmer and more positive individual. The thesis is supported by research and empirical observation.

My conclusions include the following issues:

  1. As relevant as is the thesis and its accompanying discussion, the esoteric nature of the discussion, notwithstanding the empirical support provided, will struggle to resonate with Western audiences who are both unfamiliar with some of the philosophers and others cited.
  2. The “I am Something”, in my view, rests on the concept of profound empathy. One of the principles of Spandan is the “belief in innate divinity.” Implied in this is that someone who does not possess “a belief in an innate divinity”, can’t be empathic and therefore can’t develop superior leadership. If that is not so, then why must one have “a belief in an innate divinity” if one can be empathic without it?
  3. That of course highlights a view of leadership through a “religious” lens, which will be problematic for many people who separate organizational leadership from religion, spirituality or personal belief. There are effective and humanist leaders in every spiritual dimension, including atheism.
  4. It depends what the leader is leading. Altruism, another axiomatic dimension of Spandan, implies that to be a “good” leader, you need to be altruistic. One can be driven by one’s own well-being and still have empathy and still be a good and effective leader – it’s just that the person knows what the objective is and what will help them achieve it. Is that wrong? A leader of a commercial enterprise may pursue a financial reward for shareholders (or self) and treat staff and other stakeholders empathically and responsibly.
  5. Individuals, as noted in the book, find it hard to change themselves – because they’re human and self-change is difficult.
  6. Leaders within organizations are not only at the head of the organization; they are also found throughout the organization. People who have even one person for whom they are responsible are leaders. Therefore, the lower in the organization a leader is located, the harder it will be to make the systematic and operational changes suggested in the book, even if they want to. Even if the leaders can effectively change themselves, the organization may not be willing to cooperate.
  7. Some people can’t achieve an empathic capability because of the way they are; they may have an authoritarian approach to the business. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they will fail, but it might lower the chances of “effective and humane success.”
  8. A leader is not necessarily a leader in every aspect of their existence, nor is a follower, a follower in everything. Every individual is both a leader and follower in a diversity of contexts throughout their lives.
  9. In relation to “Maternalism” I have found that men can also act, behave and care maternalistically in organizations (and elsewhere). They inevitably possess strong empathic skills, values and attributes. The stories abound of strong leaders who were loved by their staff for their capable, caring and empathic attitudes.
  10. The nature of empathy may be uniform, but the level of empathy needed to make a noticeable difference will vary. Where an organizational culture is strongly empathic and positive, a leader who “ups” their level of empathy may not even be noticed by those who are affected. That same level of additional empathy will act as a massive change stimulus if occurring in a brutal and savage culture.
  11. I Am Something’ believes that I am neither above you, nor below you. I am neither in front of you, nor behind you.” The issue here is that if someone possesses empathy, they don’t need to “pull their rank” to get things done. But to say that leaders believe they are neither above nor below is unrealistic. The effective, empathic leader knows they have the authority but don’t need to exercise it.
  12. For any meaningful change to take place, leaders themselves have to take the initiative.” For most people, such a change is a serious threat to their self-image. They may need the change, but it’s not as easy as just stating it.
  13. Facilitating others remake themselves along similar lines.” Philosophically, it sound nice, but it may not be necessary. It is not true that everyone in every organization needs to be empathic and “nice” for the leader to achieve. Everyone benefits if they are, but it’s not a truism that they must be transformed for the leader to be effective and for the organization to achieve its KPOs. Sad but true.
  14. The research undertaken appears to have a fairly small sample size to be statistically significant.
  15. On the topic of A.I., robotics and similar, I am of the view that “leadership” and “followship” will still be with us for many years to come. I am also of the view that the nature of leadership and followship will inevitably evolve. Notwithstanding predications of A.I. being able to eventually emulate Man in some areas, I believe that such advances are inevitable, but Man will still call the shots. And the importance of effective human interaction will be as vital and important as ever. And it may be that the attributes (“I am Something) of the book will be more important then, than they are now. In other words, the quality of the human interaction and the leadership that directs it, will be elevated to a higher level because much of the “low-level” stuff will be provided by machines.
  16. In my line of work, I reckon I’ve pretty much seen it all – brilliant leaders through to outright destructive maniacs, and everything in between. Over 35 years of being and working with and talking to leaders has generated mixed emotions: from being inspired and in awe, to turning around and running as fast as I could. What I see in this community of the ‘number 1 citizens’ of their organizations, are mistakes that are repeated over and over again. Things that corporate rhetoric and intellectualization would speedily deny, but things that I see and hear from those affected and things that I see with my own eyes.
  17. I can’t recall any relationship I have had with a leader, where their motivation wasn’t ‘to do the best for their organization,’ and therefore for themselves by so doing. Unfortunately, though, subjectivity and self-interest get in the way. This article is not intended to explore this point, since I’ve done it before, but rather to identify the categories of behaviours that trap many leaders and subvert effective leadership.
  18. Some leaders just aren’t ethical and condone (or even initiate) unethical behaviour. These days, it’s enough to merely say ‘Volkswagen” to prove this point. And if you think that they are the only ones, then you’re kidding yourself. I personally know of companies where the leader fired staff to capture their share entitlements; where a major multi-national milked the balance sheet to avoid showing an operating loss; leaders who condone deceptive advertising; and so on and on and on. These are not nice people.
  19. The corporate rhetoric is about delivering for shareholders (in a for-profit organization) or for members (in an NFP organization). The reality is that executives define what shareholders will get (or should I say ‘what the executives are prepared to give them’) and then define their own benefit by the KPIs set against the criteria they have set for themselves – screwing shareholders in the process. See the research in my book Corporate Crap. Not one single listed corporation in 2015 asks all its shareholders what they want from their investment – they merely (and incorrectly) assume an outcome or use institutional shareholders as a proxy for all shareholders.
  20. Almost all leaders miscalculate (i.e. underestimate) the complexity of change.
  21. Many leaders communicate by issuing edicts and believe that just because they have said or written something, that is what is heard, understood and accepted or adopted. What they don’t understand is that every communication requires both a sender and a receiver. What is said does not necessarily get interpreted the way the sender intended – the receiver absorbs the communication through their own filters, perceptions, subjectivities and contexts – always. And then leaders wonder why instructions, visions and intentions aren’t complied with.
  22. Too many leaders rely solely on their own interpretation or judgment. Many leaders can’t talk with people down the organization because issues or plans once discussed will generate thoughts and actions in those who were party to the discussion. Sometimes, those issues get resolved and plans don’t get adopted, yet people still have feelings, fears and need for security. These feelings ignite the moment the matters are discussed. Sometimes they lead to more severe reaction in the organization – an IR backlash or even organizational sabotage. Conversely, the leader can’t take every issue to the board as the leader was employed to have most answers. Therefore, leaders rely on their own judgment. What they should be doing is networking with independent and non-competitive peers with whom they can bounce ideas and gain the benefit of others’ experience.
  23. Many leaders suffer from the Devil Ego: not the Good Ego that ignites their passion and drives them to excel, but the negative one that poisons relationships and destroys self-confidence in others.
  24. Leaders must have a keen radar for identifying individuals worthy of their trust. When you don’t trust anyone, then no one will trust you – and you will not be a very nice person to be around. To be able to trust others, you must have mature emotional intelligence, a strong sense of self-worth and therefore self-confidence (but not arrogance), and an ego that is not in a permanent ‘self-defense’ position. If you are unable to trust, then you’re unable to delegate effectively, and if you can’t delegate effectively, then you can’t lead a large organization.
  25. I constantly see leaders who are unable to straddle the right and left-brain hemispheres of leadership – they must be able to envision an effective and fulfilling future for their corporation/organization, yet simultaneously watch over their shoulder how the organization is performing to deliver that vision. Being able to envision without managing performance is as fruitless as watching performance but not knowing where you’re going.
  26. Many leaders don’t walk their talk. And when they do, “many walk funny and talk crap” as quoted by a well-known commentator on leaders and leadership.
  27. It is tragic to encounter leaders who believe that the only people in the organization who can come up with good ideas is the leader themselves or their ‘C’ suite executive team. Not only is this detrimental to the organization, but one hell of an insult to its people – particularly when people within the business who are ‘down the organization’ often understand the mechanics and detail of their operational responsibility better than the managers at the top.
  28. Too many leaders look for someone to blame. Instead they should seek the learning from the issue to grow. Leaders who blame will find that mistakes are hidden, truth is guided by self-interest and evolution is subservient to revolution. Poor leaders ‘put down’ a peer or subordinate in front of others or even in private. Instead they should identify the issue, identify the better path, and give the ‘culprit’ a chance to redeem themselves (within reason). The blame culture is toxic.
  29. Poor leaders often think simplistically – and they are lousy at managing nuance – and after all, that’s what management is all about. As an example, it is easier to believe that everyone is motivated by money, than it is to acknowledge that different people are driven by different motivations and that to build a culture that works with that knowledge is difficult – yet worth doing (or at least worth trying.)
  30. Poor leaders talk a lot and really listen infrequently.
  31. Poor leaders never show gratitude to those who provide extra effort, extra performance, extra consideration, extra support to others, and who share their knowledge and experience. That’s because the leader interprets gratitude as a sign of their own failure to do that which they should be grateful for.
  32. Lousy managers pursue the status quo because they are afraid of the unknown, of the future, and of their ability to deal with it.”

Dr Jack Jacoby

Executive Chairman

Jacoby Consulting Group, Australia

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