Bookcase: Resonant Leaders

The New Leaders
By Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee
Publisher: Penguin Books
Price: $39.95

I must confess, right up front, there were parts of this book that lost me little. You see I’m ok on the EI, or so some of my workmates tell me, but the IQ just wasn’t up to it when it came to comprehending some of the finer points of the neuroanatomy of leadership.

But don’t you, dear reader, be put off by my inability to comprehend the subtleties and circuitry of the brain that leads to the generation of emotional intelligence. This is very practical and interesting book.

Goleman is the author and Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who exposed the world to emotional intelligence – at least in terms of layman’s explanation of it.

Now he has joined forces with professor of organisational behaviour and member of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education to write book about, as the rest of the title explains, “transforming the art of leadership into the science of results”.

The New Leaders attempts to explain in EI terms “what makes leaders effective”. So if you want to know more about what drives you, or drives your boss, this is great start point. It’s not exactly sit-up-in-bed text, more your “this is the morning I want to understand something about the forces that drive the world” kind of reading.

Goleman and co argue that what companies need to succeed in today’s rapidly changing business climate are emotionally intelligent leaders. What’s more, the skill of the EI-charged leader can be learnt and the authors lay out the map for transforming leadership in individuals, in teams and in organisations.

The book, says Goleman, was written in large part because of the enthusiastic reader response to his Harvard Business Review articles “What Makes Leader?” and “Leadership That Gets Results”. The authors take the arguments advanced in these stories number of steps further and explain their concept of “new leaders”.

The fundamental task of leaders is to prime good feeling in those they lead. And that occurs, say the authors, when leader creates resonance – “a reservoir of positivity that frees the best in people”. However, they concede that there can be dark side to this phenomenon. Dissonant leaders can range from the abusive tyrant to the manipulative sociopath.

“Given that adept leaders move followers to their emotional rhythm, we face the disturbing fact that, throughout history, demagogues and dictators have used this same ability for deplorable ends.” It’s all fascinating stuff, and well worth weekend’s commitment to comprehending it.

Lessons from Leadership Failures
By: Denis Orme
Publisher: 1st Books Library
Price: $49.95

We don’t exactly adopt local quota approach to reviewing books in Management magazine, but we like to give the Kiwi commercial literarti plug when we can. Denis Orme is Hamilton born and both Auckland and Victoria Universities educated. He has drawn on his 20 years of local and international consultancy experiences to explain his “Greenfields Approach” to leadership.

The Greenfields Approach, says the author, is “unique”. Essentially he thinks we spend too much time thinking incrementally, reviewing where we are in relation to others, benchmarking against competitors and so on.

This is practical leadership book but the underlying thinking behind his Greenfields Approach is straight forward. “If you were starting business or business unit tomorrow, would you do business the same way? If you were embarking on career as recent graduate, would you launch or grow your own career the same way?” he asks. If your answer is no, then why are you doing it that way now?

The objective of the book is “not to provide another text on leadership” but rather to provide “hands-on support” to ensure things work as recommended. Orme reviews leadership mistakes made in key business areas, takes the lessons learned from them and then offers up “doing it differently” alternative.

He points out that out of every 10 businesses: four to five will fail; two to three will just putter along, and one to two will be wildly successful. The book is designed to provide readers with the leadership questions that should be asked and answered in order to achieve the best results, or to know when “to cut your losses” if the business plan is badly flawed. M

Reg Birchfield is editor of Management magazine.
Email: [email protected]

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