Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Leader Who Had No Title - Robin Sharma

Robin Sharma's latest 'The leader Who Had No Title' could not have come at a more appropriate time for this world. He addresses many issues that plague current society - and though the setting is the USA, it fits the Indian scenario perfectly too. We have too many people waiting for things to happen, for guarantees and insurances etc. before they turn in good work. Work that really defines us and grows us. Whatever happened to the Zorba like approach to work? The book is written in his loosely fictionalised self-help manner.
Jaico Books, 196 p, Rs. 199

Blake is a war veteran who is low on energy and purpose. He gets a job in a bookshop and is not doing very well. One day he bumps into a weirdly dressed old man Tommy who claims to be Blake's father's friend. Tommy, for his eccentricities, is much accomplished. Apart from  being financially well off, he is the best salesman of the same bookstore chain for the past five years. Tommy is only interested in doing best work. He chooses not to get promoted and instead do his job well. For that he moves to places where there are bigger challenges so he can make a bigger difference. Tommy assures  Blake that whatever happened so far in his life has only been preparation - adversities included - so get set for greatness. He tells Blake that his life could change too if he followed the LWT principles. LWT is of course Lead Without a Title. The principles would be revealed by four teachers and it would take a day.

Tom tells Blake that growing and developing leadership talent of every single person throughout the organisation faster than their competition is the only way forward. The idea is that you don't need authority - you already have the power to do the best you can in your area of work. It requires one to be excellent at their role - a conscious choice to lead their role.

Leadership is for everyone. 

Leadership isn't something we need to practice only at work. We need to practice leadership within every arena we play.

The big day begins by a visit to two graves in a cemetery freshly dug by Tom. The graves contain two tablets (one has 10 human regrets and the other has 10 rewards of LWT) on how one could live a life full of purpose and power.

They go to meet the first teacher Anna, a beautiful housekeeper in a hotel who is the first teacher. She tells Blake that You Don't Need a Title to Be a Leader. She gives nothing less than her very best to her work. She says that success is not about luck, its consciously created. Anna believes she has one of the best jobs in the world. She also asks him to follow the principles of the acronym IMAGE (Innovation, Mastery, Authenticity, Guts, Ethics). One practice she advocates is to follow the Daily 5 - 5 small acts a day towards your most important goals.

They move on to meet Ty Boyd an ex skiing champion who teaches Blake thatTurbulent Times Build Great Leaders. He says lean into the change that you are resisting. The fear you move through when you go to the edge of the limits actually causes your limits to expand. He teaches the principles of living as SPARK (Speak with Candor, Prioritise, Adversity Breeds Opportunity, Respond versus React, Kudos for everyone).

From there they go to the gardener CEO Jackson Chan who teaches Blake that The Deeper Your Relationships, the Stronger the Leadership. Its about people and how to make them contribute. His acronym is HUMAN (Helpfulness, Understanding, Mingle, Amuse, Nurture).

Lastly they meet a massage therapist Jet Brisley who teaches him that To Be a Great Leader First Become a Great Person. His acronym is SHINE (See Clearly, Health is Wealth, Inspiration Matters, Neglect Not Your Family, Elevate Your Lifestyle). He also gives 7 fundamentals of Personal Leadership - Learning, Affirmations, Visualisation, Journaling,  Goal Setting, Exercise, Nutrition)

Some lines from the book
Success is created through performance of a few small daily disciplines that stack up over time to produce achievements far beyond anything you could have ever planned for.

The real key is to bring some emotion, energy and passion into the equation.

Daily ripples of superior performance will add up to outrageous success over time.

Change is always the messiest in the middle. 

An organisation that has a culture where everyone is afraid to speak candidly is a place where people live amid delusion and fantasy.

All that we really want we already have.

Greatness is an inner event with outer consequences. Once you awaken your inner leader, worldly success is the guaranteed result.

The key ideas are that you don't need a position or permission to do your best work, work defines you, going out of your comfort zone should be the main aim for constant growth, believe you're doing great work, be human and help others. I am all for the idea of personal leadership because its the path to secure leadership. The four characters start well but soon its as if he lost interest in them - the last one hurries through his stuff. the acronyms did not work for me because I'd never remember what they stood for - too complicated. I'd have liked it to stick to the core idea much more and engage in it completely. But that said, its main idea of Personal Leadership is very relevant and it has a lot of great content that any layman can identify with

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