Management is an art; perhaps, a fine art. There is no scientific formula that unlocks the principles of management. People are different, problems are different, situations are different, and solutions are different. In the ultimate analysis, each manager has to do his own batting. He has to discover for himself the rules governing survival and success in this game.
Most managers learn the art of management from their peers, seniors, and such other role models. Over a period of time, they cultivate an individual and personal management DNA, which characterises their unique style and stamp of management. It is in this context that the mentoring discipline comes into its own in the business arena.
Mentoring is an interactive process in which a more experienced person functions as a friend, philosopher, and guide to a less experienced person. The chemistry of the relationship between the mentor and his protégé is a critical criterion in deciding the efficacy of mentoring.
The book under notice is focused “on the leadership dilemmas of the CEO in a turbulent and unpredictably changing world …Using real experiences as telling case studies, the book demonstrates the value of anchorage in the spiritual ethos of India ... especially in the ambrosial mentoring of Arjuna by Lord Krishna …”
The book is in five parts. The first part defines and describes the process of mentoring the CEO. The second, true to its title, “Leadership Dynamics”, is an exposition of the role and responsibilities of the CEO. The message is that leadership is not a destination, but a process.
The next part emphasises the proposition that a budding business, in order to last long, must evolve into an institution. Usually, a business belongs to one person or a group of persons; whereas an institution belongs to the society at large. “Organizational priorities are then accorded primacy over personal priorities of the leadership … Leaders do not have the luxury of pursuing their personal agendas … They have to put their organization and its people first ... If they don’t, they’ll soon have no organization.”
“Work-Life Balance” is the fourth part. Advising aspirants for the position of the CEO, the author says: “Get your work-life balance right … Commit to fitness (mental and physical)... The higher you go, the more stress you will encounter. Therefore, you will need to build your capacity to deflect and dissipate stress.”
The fifth and final part of the book talks about the triumphs and tribulations of the heroes/leaders from different fields. The examples commence from the Bhagvad Gita, and proceed to the commandos in the Mumbai carnage in 2008, to the seven doctrines of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, to the Wimbledon final in 2008 between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, and finally to Anil Kumble in his heyday as a cricketer. The unique feature of this book is that the “chapters can be read as stand-alone pieces”, being nuggets of wisdom drawn from the author’s experience.
(R. Devarajan is a management consultant)
Reflections of a Mentor: V. K. Madhav Mohan;
Platinum Press, Trade Centre, Level 1,
Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra