Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Jan 27, 2003
Corporate - Books
Columns - Browser's Corner
Leading from the front
As the corporate world faces a roller-coaster ride of ups, downs and turbulences, one truth has re-invented itself to become a cornerstone of business success. Leadership has become the Holy Grail of the 21st century. And more often that not, those lessons come through in the most innocuous interactions in the corporate world.
At the plush offices of a leading cosmetic manufacturer in Chennai, leadership has made an extraordinary impact. Every floor features two eye-catching displays. First, a display of the products, and second, notice boards that spotlight colourfully designed posters. All posters highlighted one fact that professional growth and personal growth went hand in hand. The way that led to the company's success.
Like other corporates, the company's teams handled core competency areas in production, marketing and administration. In their midst, another specialist team that looked into the overall functioning of all these teams.
The chief responsibility of this team was to look at the personal side of employees as well as their professional performance. Briefly, the specialist team helped the leaders to understanding their teams in terms of their capabilities and performance. The result of this leadership initiative is an emerging cosmetics giant that is high on employee morale and soaring market growth.
Leading from the Inside Out reflects this dynamic process in the challenging approaches presented in the book. Across its 234 thought-provoking pages, it presents and explains the process of Coaching Leadership as a framework for personal and professional growth for leaders, their teams, organizations and communities.
The book is divided into four parts that present a five-step approach for growth. The authors work their way from the individual in his or her role as a leader, provide a framework of understand for their teams, its place in the organisation and finally the larger community.
The book begins by looking at coaching leaders, and then moves on to the meaning of Coaching and clarifies the need of Coaching Leaders. It then illustrates the key steps in a coaching process with a coaching model that briefly explains the steps of the coaching process in all the four areas.
Beginning with leaders within, it moves on to leaders and teams, leaders and organisations, and leaders and communities. Each of these sections is further explained in detail by coaching processes such as establishing a coaching relationship, analysing the data collected, and evaluating performance. Every section is further details the competencies of leaders to carry out the task at hand.
The authors present case studies that explain the need and the role of coaching leaders. The authors, having coached numerous leaders themselves, have presented case studies of their clients so that leaders can learn from their experience. Significantly, in Part Four, the authors quote James Belasco who states that "coaching is destined to be the leadership approach of the 21st century".
Further, they also emphasis the need for coaching by insights like, "A culture of coaching nurtures leadership in every employee. The coaching leader lives in a world supported by dialogue. This kind of interactive style attracts free agents (high performance employees) who are less likely to respect positional power as a motivator. Coaching reaches these people. They come. They stay. They outperform the competition."
The end of every part is followed by detailed worksheets for practical purposes, and to help leaders chalk out their path for development. The authors, Virginia E. Bianco-Mathis, Lisa K. Nabros, Cynthia H. Roman are partners with Strategic Performance Group, and academics at reputed Universities, such as Marymount and George Washington. And most of all, they have extensive experience in coaching leaders.
Leading from the Inside Out takes up from the recent tradition of authors like Tom Peters and Laurie Beth Jones. And their respective legacies of corporate insight such as The Pursuit of Wow!, and Jesus CEO. The other highlight of the book is its admittedly `Yin' approach, which is a gentle, all encompassing, yet potent approach to 21st-century leadership.
A recent entrant to the burgeoning market of business insight books, the book is one of the latest offerings from the time-honoured stable of Sage Publications. The authors have shown the corporate world how to effectively lead from the inside out.
It is only a matter of time now, before corporate India zeroes in, on the true potential of this powerful leadership approach.
Illustration by J.A. Premkumar
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