Tips on leadership

 Is it possible to build cities that are energy efficient and environment friendly in populous cities like Delhi and Mumbai? What do successful organisations and smart leaders have in common? Insights like this make up for our books bonanza this week. Take a look.

Bookshelf1. Book: Smart and Human: Building Cities of Wisdom; Author: G.R.K.Reddy and Srijan Pal Singh; Publisher: Harper Collins; Pages: 281;

The 20th century changed the way we live. The human population went up from 1.5 billion in 1900 to seven billion in 2010. The hope of a better life drove – and continues to drive – people to urban areas, leading to the growth of mega cities around the world.

In India, just three metropolises – New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata – support a total population of 55 million and feature among the 10 most-populated cities on earth. Between 2015 and 2030, India’s GDP is expected to multiply five times, with over 70 percent of the new employment generated in the cities. Close to 800 million square metres of commercial and residential space needs to be built to serve this population. That is roughly the equivalent of building a new Chicago every year and amounts to over $1.2 trillion in investments.

This book argues that these are not unreachable, Utopian dreams. It is not only imperative but also possible to build cities that are energy efficient, environment friendly, futuristic in their architecture and integrated in their infrastructure. The 21st century could change the way we live – yet again: a smart India powered by its smart cities.

2. Book: The Success Formula: How Smart Leaders Deliver Outstanding Value;

Author: Andrew Kakabadse; Publisher: Bloomsbury; Pages: 190

What do successful organisations and smart leaders have in common? They deliver outstanding value to their stakeholders. The author, through his research, has found two different approaches at work. In strategy-led organisations, senior management has a clear notion of how value can be treated and enacts a strategy to achieve it but has to win the support of key managers and board members.

Value-delivery led organisations approach value creation differently. In these organisations, the leadership gathers evidence from internal and external stakeholders to determine the value in the future. A strategy is then put in place to support those findings and is deliberately exposed to challenges from stakeholders to create engagement.

This book is illustrated with captivating examples drawn from interviews with over 80 leading organisations in private, public and third sectors from all over the world.

3. Book: Winning the Right Job: A Blueprint to Acing the Interview; Author: Pratibha Messner and Wolfgang Messner; Publisher: Pan Macmillan; Pages: 247

You know you have the right skills, a curious mind, the drive and discipline to make your career goals a reality. And yet, do you find yourself lost in a maze of job portals, social networking, online applications, calls with agents and futile rounds of interviews?

The dream job doesn’t come easily. At the beginning of your career and unguided by a mentor, the challenges are manifold: getting it right during the phases of application, the interview and the negotiation can be tricky.

Relevant both for entry-level jobseekers and those planning a change, the book shows how to approach a potential employer and answer questions on attitudes, life skills, ambitions and expectations.

4. Book: Capitalism’s Toxic Assumptions: Redefining Next Generation Economics; Author: Eve Poole; Publisher: Bloomsbury; Pages: 187

In science, no one believes the earth is flat any more. Economists, on the other hand, haven’t budged from their original worldview. Market capitalism depends on seven big ideas: competition, the ‘invisible hand’, utility, agency theory, pricing, shareholder value and limited liability. These served the world well in the past, but over the years, they have become cancerous and are slowly killing the system as a whole.

The author argues that if you zoom in on any of these firm foundations, they start to blur and wobble. Here she offers alternative views for a healthier system.

And looking at them together, it becomes clear why we are so stuck. The capitalist system masquerades as a machine programmed by experts, with only economists and governments qualified to tinker with it. But the market is just a mass of messages about supply and demand. The rich world shapes the market in their image, because they have more votes. So if we want to change the way things are, we don’t need to wait for the experts. We can start now.

The author shows how quiet action by consumers, investors, employees and employers can make big changes by shifting behaviour and adjusting the way financial votes are cast in the market.