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Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders

by Rajeev Peshawaria

Reviewed by Glenn Kaufman on May. 7, 2012 in Biz Lit

If anyone can speak with conviction about leadership as a corporate-insider, it is Rajeev.  During his career, Rajeev has worked for such global giants as American Express, Goldman Sachs, and Coca Cola, and has witnessed all manner of leadership types in action.  Just what did he find?  Well, the title of his book says it all.

“Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders” is divided into two parts.  While the second part, “Enterprise Leadership” is chock full of advice on how to “galvanize large numbers” of employees in a company, it is the first part of the book, “Self and Team Leadership” that sets this book apart from the pack.

Rajeev’s basic premise is that many people who find themselves in leadership positions do so for the wrong reasons, and it shows in their inability to lead.  His solution: do some soul-searching to really understand what motivates you, and if it is limited to self-interest instead of a bigger purpose and clear values, your leadership may cause problems for you and others down the road.

At first, this sounds kind of heretical coming from a leadership development expert.  Wouldn’t these types of “leaders” be the ideal candidates for development and fuel the $50 billion executive development industry?  Rajeev would prefer that people define their purpose and values and in a sense, if they are not really motivated by genuine leadership, they should spare the rest of us the inevitable angst that they will inflict upon us when we get stuck working for them.  It sounds easier said then done but Rajeev cites examples where he has taken people in leadership roles through a process of self-discovery, and many have opted out in favor of pursuing a path that genuinely energizes them and the people around them.

While a book cannot be a substitute for professionally guided introspection, Rajeev poses all the right questions to the reader.  I found myself trying to answer them, and sometimes, it was downright uncomfortable to be honest with myself.  I suppose that this is exactly what Rajeev would want, and why he starts his notion of leadership development at the beginning of the journey, by fundamentally asking whether you will be a leader or merely a boss.

Regardless of where in your leadership journey your happen to be when you read this book, there will be something in it for you.  While the first part is more provocative, the second is a good summary of the leverage points that are available to you as a leader to effect results along with the people who happen to work for you.  It makes for a great check-up tool and diagnostic without all the theory and verbosity that many management books contain.

This book was featured during The Conference Board Human Capital Exchange’s February book discussion. A webcast video is available upon signing in or creating an account here.



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