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Issue of January 2006 

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Leadership roles

Title : Leadership: Research findings, practice, and skills
Author : Andrew J DuBrin
Publisher : Wiley-Dreamtech India
Price : Rs 329

A good leader is the key to a successful organisation. With effective leadership, an organisation can utilise its resources including its most important—employees—for better efficiency, productivity and profitability. The art of dealing with people is what makes a true leader. There are many instances where organisations have travelled from bankruptcy to profitability because of the right leadership.

Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills by Andrew J. DuBrin (Fourth Edition) talks about the importance of leadership and its impact upon an organisation. It offers an insight into the qualities of an effective leader—a subject which has gained importance in recent years. The book not only lists the practices a leader should follow, but also the ethics and social responsibility necessary for a true leader of the organisation.

The language is simple and illustrative, complemented with informative charts and infographics. The book has fifteen chapters in five sections which deal with essentials like leadership characteristics and traits, leader behaviour and style, and group member characteristics. Also detailed are the influences exerted by internal and external environments to help the reader understand relationships between chapter topics and provide a framework for understanding leadership issues.

The book is targeted at helping executives understand the effective leadership required to successfully run an organisation. It is a useful resource for executives heading teams, task forces and units at all organisational levels.

Each chapter includes a summary which outlines and gives a quick review of the topics covered. Case studies of different people and their real life experiences of dealing with problems help the reader connect with the book. Leaders such as Sunil Bharti Mittal of the Bharti group, Azim Premji, owner of Wipro, Anil Agarwal of NGO Center for Science and Enviroment are the personalities whose life scan give inspiration to many.

Each chapter deals with a different perspective of leadership making it a complete book for people aspiring to pursue leadership roles in their organisations. One of the chapters of the book, ‘Developing teamwork,’ discusses the leader’s role in a team, the need for outdoor training and team development in running a team successfully. ‘Communication and conflict resolution skills’ speaks at length about the role of a supportive communication, ways to overcome cross-cultural barriers which is one of the major hurdles in leading a team and how can a leader help in resolving conflict and negotiations.

Another chapter which might interest the reader is ‘Leadership development, succession and followership’, which explains that real learning is self learning and is attained through self-awareness and self-discipline. It delves into the role played by one’s education, experience and mentoring, different kinds of leadership programmes, and the essential qualities of an effective group leader.

Skill building exercises and quizzes give the reader an opportunity to evaluate one’s performance as a leader and the learning from each chapter.

Internet skill building exercises are included where a reader can apply the concepts outlined in each chapter to learn more about current leadership topics and trends. The book also has a SWOT analysis test.

The unique feature of the book is its adaptation to the Indian scenario. There are three Indian case studies, which add a familiar context and a closer to home feeling for the readers. For example, one Indian case study deals with a school administrator’s dilemma over staff morale. Another case study deals with a public governance project in a southern Indian district. Profiles of six Indian leaders in business and society gives a relevant Indian outlook and flavour to the book.

Examples on different aspects of leadership from English feature films such as Gandhi are also used to explain how a particular film touches upon leadership as well as the different areas and theories covered in the film.

While the book makes effective use of charts, case studies and figures, it is a lengthy read at 572 pages. That said, it can hold the interest of a team leader because of its relevance and real life approach.

Sneha Khanna

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