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Issue of January 2005 
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What Leaders Want

Title: Developing Leadership Genius Author: Dr. Cyril Levecki
Publisher: Tata McGraw Hill
Pages: 299
Price: Rs 350/-

The role and image of IT managers have undergone a sea change over a short span of time. From the introverted jargon pelting support staff the IT Head today plays an active role in business, and he or she personifies the organisation as much as the other business heads. The IT manager’s new work portfolio includes capturing business value, hiring people, and managing teams and projects. Due to this the IT Head now needs to acquire the same, if not more, leadership skills as a CEO and other business leaders. Dr. Cyril Levicki presents his insights into the nature and nurture of leaders in his book 'Developing Leadership Genius'.

The author begins by establishing what studies have suggested about leadership in the past. He categorises the conventional ways that have been used to measure leadership: the traits model, the behavioural models, and the contingency theory. His own theory, at which he arrives in the book, is a combination of all three. A leader requires preordained attributes, a tempered manner, and presence of mind.

Nature

While it may seem unfair, some leadership qualities are dependent on nature. For example, a bad personality may become a handicap for some, and a good one an advantage for some others in a position of authority. "Being tall helps," Levicki adds honestly. There are certain other features that are not in an individual's control.

Apparently intuition, a key to successful leadership, develops automatically in early childhood, and manifests in different ways. The author gives an example of his son in London, who was not aware of the demise of his grandfather in New York, but felt unexplainable sorrow. The author also concludes that children of ambitious mothers tend to assume leadership roles more naturally.

Nurture

However, not all leaders need to be born leaders. Leadership skills can be developed. Most of the developed skills are more critical to good leadership and they can compensate for natural traits. Character and inner strength for instance can compensate for an imperfect personality but the reverse is not true.

There are no shortcuts to hard work. The book reiterates this as the author suggests that good leaders survive any work situation because of their assiduous attitude towards work rather than their political or manipulative skills. For that kind of devotion to work two factors are imperative: physical strength and balance. When he refers to balance, Levicki speaks of every aspect of life from the kind of life partner a person chooses to the restraint he or she displays in a tense office situation.

Since specialisation is the order of the day, Levicki has subdivided the types of leaders required in various situations. So a charismatic leader, he writes, is ideal for situations that require great strategic leaps. A princely leader on the other hand, is best suited to sustain an already well established business. To adapt to the dynamic phases of business the book indicates that Emotional Intelligence is important. It is essential for a good leader to demonstrate emotional maturity to cope with any situation.

The Bottom Line

Punctuated with anecdotes and psychometric tests that a reader can take to assess his or her leadership capabilities, 'Developing Leadership Genius' makes for good reading. In his candid, conversational style, the author ends the book with differentiation between commonly misinterpreted words such as cleverness and wisdom.

The most important difference Levicki establishes in the book is that "Nominal leaders have a need to lead and strategic leaders have a need to achieve."

- Deepali Gupta

 
     
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