Mettle of leadership

Sunday 25th August, 2019

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g OPALAK DOODLES ON LEADERSHIP: EXPERIENCES WITHIN AND BEYOND TATA by R. Gopalakrishnan. Rupa. Pages 198. 500 Mettle of leadership GEETU VAID We: you have worked in the upper echelons of one of the biggest corporate houses in the country, the perspective on leadership, corporate workplaces and the business ethics is sure to be varied and valued. R. Gopalakrishnan, with years of experience in Unilever and the Tata group, weaves this book around the metaphor of 'balconies of leadership' to give interesting insights into the world of business and corporate honchos. There is much more to the world of business than the myopic, profit making calculations. Great leaders prepare the pitch for a better society and Work for greater good rather than Just establishing a multi-million empire. It is this aspect of leadership that Gopalakrishnan sets out to highlight through his 'doodles'. The balcony of leadership from where the author provides a view to the readers is the third and most important balcony of holistic leadership. "In the evening of my professional career of over half a century in management, I have now felt the urge to doodle about the view from the third balcony of holistic leadership," writes Gopalakrishnan about the book thatis about leadership moments concerned with "more holistic problems that occur in industry, society, nation, values and people." What distinguishes great leaders from a businessperson is the humane attitude tempered with a vision to work for society. Whether it was Jamsetji 'Tata, who set up probably the world's first charitable trust in 1892 much before the Rockfeller Trust, Andrew Carnegie Trust and Ford Foundation, or Lord Lexerhulme, the father of first MNC, Unilever, working for greater good was the key that made them great leaders. The first-hand experience of the author is one of the most sterling points of the book. Like a neat and orderly office desk of an efficient CEO, the book is divided into 10 chapters each unravelling a different aspect and perspective on leadership, be it the imaginary dialogue between the different generations of top honchos of the 'Tata group or the one on making little India Shine or on the future of agriculture in the country. The chapter on trusteeship puts the spotlight on the ethical dilemmas that one encounters in a corporate ecosystem and how it 1s imperative for a leader to ensure that the business profits are siphoned back into society for welfare and philanthropic work. Example of how Swami Vivekananda "influenced" John D Rockefeller to share his wealth for the betterment of society 1s one of the several similar interesting and inspiring nuggets that Gopalakrishnan has used in the book effectively to make it an informative and delightful read. A doodle is something rough and extempore, but Gopalakrishnan's book has a finesse and class that has been chiselled by years of experience and a valuable read for those climbing the career skyscraper and nurturing the ambition to step into a leader's shoes.