Step into a fresh perspective on leadership with Leading from the Back. Authors Ravi Kant, Harry Paul, and Ross Reck present a game-changing approach forged through diverse experiences. This engaging parable challenges traditional norms, making leadership resonate in today’s dynamic world. Are you ready to lead from a different angle?
Read this exclusive excerpt to know why ‘Leading from the Back’ style of leadership is here to stay.
I have tucked my learnings inside this fable, like silver in a packet.
—Adapted from early-ninth century verses of
the Abbasid princess Ulayya bint al-Mahdi*
On the face of it, Leading from the Back runs counter to the conventional and commonly understood style of leadership—‘leading from the front’. The question is why should you want to look at it? Two reasons, in my view—one, leading from the back has been successfully implemented over five decades under diverse situations in companies large and small, which gives it great credibility. Impressive results have been achieved and it should not be mistaken as a ‘soft’ option nor as an accidental flash in the pan. Two, leading from the front was possibly the operative style in the early days of military warfare when a leader was required to show his face in the front (infantry or cavalry) and energize and motivate troops through sheer personal valour. However, this style of leadership, though very popular in the US, is coming under great stress because:
1. Organizations have become large and complex and supply chain markets have become diverse.
2. ‘Black swan’ events, which are difficult to predict but are seen as inevitable in hindsight, could occur with greater frequency.
3. Technology is changing how businesses and organizations are run.
4. The workplace dynamic is rapidly changing and will continue to change.
This clearly requires leadership that is not the domain of one person nor concentrated in one person—the one who is constantly put in the spotlight as if others don’t matter and the final outcome is impervious to the external environment. The current situation demands that leadership is distributed and that’s what Leading from the Back is all about.
The challenge for us was how to introduce a new concept against a powerful, long-established concept of leadership. The solution we came up with was a story, a parable. Stories have been around since people began to communicate. They bring to life concepts and teachings and put them in a context that we can easily understand and relate to.
* * *
Why, Plato wondered, was Socrates frittering away his final moments on these childish beast tales?
Phaedo of Elis couldn’t say but he did recall Socrates remarking that Aesop’s fables weren’t the animal fictions they seemed. In reality, they were clandestine commentaries on humanity. Aesop had only populated them with foxes, mules and lions because he knew that people would get angry if he pointed out their faults directly.
My (Ravi) entire learning of five decades, of rich and diverse experience, has been distilled through viewing situation and ideas through three questions:
• How should I be?
• How should I deal with the team?
• How should I deal with the task?
Based on my experience and implementation, and using elements of Leading from the Back, I knew I needed help to narrate my ideas and learning. As any good leader knows, you can’t do it alone. I (Ravi) needed to find my Aesop. But where? Initiative and help came from an acquaintance of thirty years: Prakash Idnani and his vast experience in advertising and communication, which has helped convert many non-authors into authors! Prakash found not one but two Aesops in the US, the holy land of leading from the front!
With an introduction from Prakash, I met Harry Paul and Ross Reck. Both of them have considerable experience writing parables. This book was conceived, mapped out and written during the pandemic. Embracing technology, the three of us wrote this book because we firmly believe in its principles, the efficacy of its teachings and felt a need to share it. Even though we have never met in person, the three of us got to know, trust and learn from each other through Zoom. This book was made possible only by coalescing each unique and varying contribution to create a powerful fable of Leading from the Back. We, the authors, sincerely feel that your thoughts will resonate with many of the principles enunciated in Leading from the Back and that you will get a little dose of dopamine which will impel you to put some, maybe even all, of them into action.
Ravi Kant, Harry Paul and Ross Reck
Get your copy of Leading from the Back by Ravi Kant, Harry Paul and Ross Reck wherever books are sold.