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Curious about Career and Success? Ask These Books for Answers!

Explore a goldmine of wisdom with a diverse collection of books spanning career, management, and entrepreneurship. From leadership insights to personal growth and empathy’s role in a post-pandemic world, these reads offer a powerful perspective. Your path to success starts here!

 

Play to Transform
Play to Transform || Avinash Jhangiani

Play to Transform is a book that challenges the traditional mindset of business leaders and encourages them to tap into their inner child to accelerate transformation with purpose. The book argues that we are all born creative geniuses with an innate ability to empathize deeply with others, but somewhere along the way, we have lost touch with these qualities. In the post-pandemic world, leaders need to be more empathetic and agile than ever before, and a conscious shift in mindset is required to achieve this.

 

Unlocked
Unlocked || Gezim Gashi

Gezim Gashi recounts his extraordinary journey-from escaping the Kosovo genocide to becoming the first Albanian-Swede to launch a high school institute in the United States – Gezim lays out a path to personal success and fulfillment that is accessible to all, regardless of their background. With his mentorship, readers will be inspired to overcome obstacles and achieve their biggest goals.

 

Unfiltered
Unfiltered || Ana Lueneburger, Saurabh Mukherjea

 

A pioneering book, Unfiltered: The CEO and the Coach, for the first time, opens the doors that normally shield the confidential world of coaching conversations. The book, through its candour, helps readers fully grasp the life-changing impact that coaching can have. Conceived as a leadership development book, the authors share the narratives (both individual and mutual) of their partnership over the course of five years. The resultant narrative provides not just unique insights that executives and entrepreneurs will find useful for their own development but also deep insights into how, by understanding ourselves, we move towards mastery over the world at large.

 

Leading from the Back
Leading from the Back || Ravi Kant, Harry Paul, Ross Reck

Are you looking for a leadership model that is uncomplicated, easy to use and produces amazing results? If so, then Leading from the Back is for you! In it you will find everything you need to become a superstar leader. You will learn how to earn respect from your team members and help them in achieving the impossible. No more learning about numerous principles and laws of leadership. Just a three-part model that has an amazing track record of proven success.

Leading from the Back is a distillation of the collective experience and wisdom of Ravi Kant (former CEO, vice chairman, Tata Motors), Harry Paul (co-author of the bestseller FISH! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results) and Ross Reck (co-author of The Win-Win Negotiator).

 

The Secret of Leadership
The Secret of Leadership || Iyer Prakash

Bestselling author Prakash Iyer uses simple but powerful anecdotes and parables from all over the world to demonstrate what makes for effective personal and professional leadership. Iyer draws lessons from sources as diverse as his driver, a mother giraffe, Abraham Lincoln and footballers in the United Kingdom. He shows how an instinct to lead can be acquired even while flipping burgers at a fast-food chain. All of these stories come together in an explosive cocktail to unleash your inner leader.

 

Catalyst
Catalyst || Chandramouli Venkatesan

A good job, hard work, IQ, EQ, good communication skills-these are all ingredients for a successful life. The presence of these elements alone, however, does not guarantee success. To convert them into long-term success, you need certain stimuli which precipitate or accelerate your growth. This robustly effective book identifies the various catalysts that you can cultivate and how you can leverage them to propel yourself in your work and life.
Accessible, engaging and easy to follow, and written by someone who has experienced all this in real life and not in theory, Catalyst will arm you with the right tools to succeed at your work place and get the most out of every moment, every day.

 

The Habit of Winning
The Habit of Winning || Iyer Prakash

Do you feel like throwing in the towel, but want to be a great leader? Would you like to build an organization? Do you want your child to be the best she can be? If you answered yes to any of these questions, The Habit of Winning is the book for you. It is a book that will change the way you think, work and live, with stories about self-belief and perseverance, leadership and teamwork-stories that will ignite a new passion and a renewed sense of purpose in your mind.

 

The High Performance Entrepreneur
The High Performance Entrepreneur || Subroto Bagchi

In The High Performance Entrepreneur, Subroto Bagchi draws from his own experiences to offer guidance from the idea stage to the initial public offering level. This includes deciding when one is ready to launch an enterprise, selecting a team, defining the values and objectives of the company, writing the business plan, choosing the right investors, managing adversity and building the brand. Additionally, in an especially illuminating chapter, Bagchi recounts the systems and values which have brought Indian IT companies on a par with the best in the world. High-performance entrepreneurs create great wealth, for themselves as well as for others. They provide jobs, which are crucial for an expanding workforce, and drive innovation. More than a guide, this book will tap the entrepreneurial energy within you.

 

Design Your Thinking
Design Your Thinking || Pavan Soni

Pioneered by IDEO and Stanford d.school, design thinking is one such approach that draws inspiration from the realm of product design. However, it shouldn’t be narrowly associated with the world of start-ups and technology or thought of as something limited to product development. The method is increasingly being used in a wider context and can help us address a vast array of problems.

Design Your Thinking attempts to offer a practitioner’s perspective on how the tenets, methods and discipline of design thinking can be applied across a range of domains, including to everyday problems, and help us become expert problem-solvers through the use of the appropriate toolsets, skill sets and mindsets.

 

Let's Build A Company
Let’s Build A Company || Harpreet Grover, Vibhore Goyal

It started with a phone call from Harpreet’s mother introducing him to an uncle who wanted some help. Or maybe it started when Vibhore and Harpreet met as roommates in Room 143 at IIT Bombay. What remains true is that soon both had quit their jobs and launched CoCubes. From no money in their bank accounts for eight years after graduating to becoming dollar millionaires two years later in 2016, this is a tale of grit-of a company built in India by two Indian-middle-class-twenty-somethings-turned-entrepreneurs-written in the hope that you can avoid the mistakes they made and learn from what they did right.

This is that story-the story that you don’t always hear. But if you want to be an entrepreneur, and you prefer straight talk to sugar-coating, it’s one you should read.

 

How Come No One Told Me That
How Come No One Told Me That || Prakash Iyer

How Come No One Told Me That? divided into ten sections, exploring life lessons, ways of improving oneself, leadership and the importance of doing small things right, among other subjects. Through powerful anecdotes and charming essays, followed by practical, actionable advice, this book will help you make those minor adjustments to your professional and personal lives that can truly make you unstoppable.

 

Learn, Don't Study
Learn, Don’t Study || Pramath Raj Sinha

 

‘What should I study to best prepare me for success in today’s working world?’

This is the most common question one gets from young people (and their parents) who are transitioning from school to college education. They want to know which fields they should choose, which universities or programmes to attend, and which career track will give them the best chance to succeed.

In Learn, Don’t Study, drawing on his experiences of over twenty-five years in the field of education, Pramath Raj Sinha has put together the best and most practical advice available for youngsters who are facing some of the most important and challenging choices of their professional lives.

 

Build Don't Talk
Build Don’t Talk || Raj Shamani

 

School taught us specific subjects, like maths and history.
But we weren’t taught:
How to sell
Or how to build relationships
Or how to negotiate
Or how to take care of our mental health
Or how to network
Or how to deal with personal finance

These most important situations we face as adults were never discussed with us when we were students. We weren’t taught these skills in school, and this makes all the success stories we hear about seem out of reach; it makes us feel dumb. We aren’t dumb, we just don’t know how to work the system.

Your school taught you how to run in the race; it didn’t teach you how to win. And that’s what this book is for. To help you win the race. Packed with useful advice gleaned from his own journey as an entrepreneur and content creator, this book by Raj Shamani is a must-read.

COMING SOON

Career 3.0
Career 3.0 || Abhijit Bhaduri

Abhijit Bhaduri, a renowned expert on talent and leadership, shows you how to develop the six key skills that will make you future-ready and successful in Career 3.0. Whether you work for an organization, run your own business or do both, you will discover how to adapt to change, learn new skills, and lead with impact.

Career 3.0 is a guide that will help you stay relevant. The book is filled with inspiring stories that will challenge you to rethink your career vision, strategy and action. It will give you the tools and techniques to thrive in the new world of work and propel your career.

You may be surprised to find out that you already have a Career 3.0 mindset. Now you know what it is called.

Crack the Code of Business Success with these Books!

Dive into a handpicked collection of books that unlock the secrets to success, challenge traditional thinking, and inspire personal growth. From workplace wisdom to extraordinary journeys, entrepreneurial endeavors, and captivating corporate tales, these books offer insights that are both enlightening and entertaining. Whether you’re a business enthusiast or an aspiring leader, these books are your gateway to a world of knowledge and inspiration.

 

 

Play to Transform
Play to Transform || Avinash Jhangiani

Play to Transform is a book that challenges the traditional mindset of business leaders and encourages them to tap into their inner child to accelerate transformation with purpose. The book argues that we are all born creative geniuses with an innate ability to empathize deeply with others, but somewhere along the way, we have lost touch with these qualities. In the post-pandemic world, leaders need to be more empathetic and agile than ever before, and a conscious shift in mindset is required to achieve this.

 

Office Secrets
Office Secrets || Harish Bhat

Office Secrets offers a selection of fascinating and useful secrets that can help you be far more successful at your workplace. As a bonus, they can make you happier as well. You will find within a range of subjects-whether the best methods of fighting exhaustion, organizing your work desk, the power of listening, why kindness is so important, workplace lessons from Hercule Poirot and what you can learn from the cookies that your colleagues eat.

Harish Bhat wields his pen with his signature insight to delight, inspire, provoke and change the way you see offices forever.

 

Unlocked
Unlocked || Gezim Gashi

Gezim Gashi recounts his extraordinary journey-from escaping the Kosovo genocide to becoming the first Albanian-Swede to launch a high school institute in the United States – Gezim lays out a path to personal success and fulfillment that is accessible to all, regardless of their background. With his mentorship, readers will be inspired to overcome obstacles and achieve their biggest goals.

 

Unlocking Unicorn Secrets
Unlocking Unicorn Secrets || Kushal Lodha, Ishan Sharma

Unlocking Unicorn Secrets captures the entrepreneurial journeys of some of India’s new-age founders and looks at the challenges they faced and how they overcame them. It covers themes such as developing an idea, building out the minimum viable product (MVP), finding a co-founder, setting up the founding team, raising funds and scaling the business, among others. Through primary research and a series of interviews conducted with the founders of these billion-dollar companies, the authors weave a narrative that is both accessible and informative.

 

The Big Bull of Dalal Street
The Big Bull of Dalal Street || Neil Borate, Aprajita Sharma, Aditya Kondawar

The Big Bull of Dalal Street looks at the life of India’s big bull, as Rakesh was famously known, both as a person and as a professional. Providing a fascinating account of his journey, it analyses the records of Jhunjhunwala’s investments and interviews he has given over the years. More than just a biography, a large section of the book is devoted to understanding the stocks that made him rich and the mistakes he made. Looking at the journey of the legendary investor, the book offers retail investors some useful insights—-benefits of long-term investing, mistakes one should avoid in the stock market, risk associated with leveraged trades, among others.

 

Exprovement
Exprovement || Hersh Haladker, RA Mashelkar

Through the various examples highlighted in this book, Hersh Haladker and Raghunath Mashelkar emphasize that searching for growth opportunities within an offering’s existing industry usually results in incremental improvement, whereas exponential improvement can be achieved by drawing parallels from outside of the current context.

 

Unfinished Business
Unfinished Business || Nandini Vijayaraghavan

Unfinished Business is a chronicle of contemporary Indian corporate history, narrated through the professional trajectories of four high-profile businessmen: Anil Ambani, Naresh Goyal, V.G. Siddhartha and Vijay Mallya. Following these four entrepreneurs’ careers and professional decisions, Unfinished Business throws light on the evolution of Indian capitalism during the first two decades of the twenty-first century, set against the backdrop of a dynamic political, regulatory and business climate in India. And, with great insight, clarity and analysis, Nandini Vijayaraghavan explores the takeaways for entrepreneurs, regulators, lenders and investors in this compelling, illuminating read.

 

Doglapan
Doglapan || Ashneer Grover

A young boy with a ‘refugee’ tag growing up in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar outpaces his circumstances by becoming a rank-holder at the pinnacle of academic excellence in India-IIT Delhi. He goes on to do an MBA from the hallowed halls of IIM Ahmedabad, builds a career as an investment banker at Kotak Investment Banking and AmEx, and is pivotal in the making of two unicorns-Grofers, as CFO, and BharatPe, as co-founder.

 

The Dolphin and The Shark
The Dolphin and The Shark || Namita Thapar

The Dolphin and the Shark is born out of Namita Thapar’s experiences of being a judge on Shark Tank India and running the India business of the pharma company Emcure as well as her own entrepreneurship academy. The book emphasizes how leaders of today need to strike a balance between being a shark (aggressive leader) and a dolphin (empathetic leader).

 

Work 3.0
Work 3.0 || Avik Chanda, Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay

Work 3.0 tackles this and some of the other most pressing and complex questions of the present age, head-on. Avik Chanda and Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay employ rigorous research supplemented with industry reports, business case studies, expert interviews, anecdotes, their personal expertise and insights, to present a rich multi-disciplinary brew that spans economics, statistics, public policy, history, sociology, psychology, law, political science, literature and philosophy. Highly ambitious in scope, astonishingly rich in analytical detail and far-reaching in its conclusions, the book will change the way you think about the future and how the past and present still shape it.

 

How Business Storytelling Works
How Business Storytelling Works || Sandeep Das

Whether you are a corporate professional, an entrepreneur, a tech guru, a marketer, a strategy consultant, a social media influencer or a student, the book tells you how to succeed in the REAL world. Sandeep brings in nuggets from his numerous storytelling workshops at leading corporates and business schools, and intersperses it with illustrations and hordes of popular culture references, making the book
as engaging as a good story. So, what are you waiting for? Head to the checkout counter.

 

The Company We Keep
The Company We Keep || Divya Khanna

The Company We Keep is a market research-based exploration of Indian corporate culture. It looks beyond the glamour and jargon of the business world to individual stories that share real personal insights into the aspirations, vulnerabilities, pressures and possibilities of corporate careers and lives. These are urgent conversations we need to keep having as we reflect, review and decide where we can go from here.

 

Gautam Adani
Gautam Adani || R.N. Bhaskar

Gautam Adani needs no introduction. One of the richest men in the world, he also helms a business empire that is now India’s largest player in ports and renewable energy. He is also the country’s largest private sector player in sectors like airports, city gas distribution, power transmission, thermal power, edible oil, and railway lines. Yet, look beyond these facts, and startlingly little is known about Gautam Adani, the maverick businessman; about his motivations and vision; about his life, and the episodes, minor and major, that propelled him to make the choices he did.

 

Build Don't Talk
Build Don’t Talk || Raj Shamani

Your school taught you how to run in the race; it didn’t teach you how to win. And that’s what this book is for. To help you win the race. Packed with useful advice gleaned from his own journey as an entrepreneur and content creator, this book by Raj Shamani is a must-read.

 

Rahul Bajaj
Rahul Bajaj || Gita Piramal

Rahul Bajaj is a billionaire businessman, the chairman emeritus of the Bajaj Group and a former member of Parliament. This book is not just the story of Rahul Bajaj but the story of India. The author takes us through the country’s transformation from the time Rahul Bajaj’s mother was imprisoned during the freedom struggle to the prism of his eventful life.
Based on unrestricted interviews, the book is full of anecdotes, business learnings and political asides. It is, at its core, a moving human story.

 

Investonomy
Investonomy || Pranjal Kamra

Investonomy not only explains modern value investing principles but also unveils certain secrets of the stock market. It busts popular myths and misconceptions as well. A thorough reading of this book will enable you to chart your own investment plans, and soon, you’ll be all set for your personal wealth-creation journey through equity investment. Investonomy is an initiative to empower existing, as well as potential, investors like you.

 

Unfiltered
Unfiltered || Ana Lueneburger, Saurabh Mukherjea

A pioneering book, Unfiltered: The CEO and the Coach, for the first time, opens the doors that normally shield the confidential world of coaching conversations. The book, through its candour, helps readers fully grasp the life-changing impact that coaching can have. Conceived as a leadership development book, the authors share the narratives (both individual and mutual) of their partnership over the course of five years. The resultant narrative provides not just unique insights that executives and entrepreneurs will find useful for their own development but also deep insights into how, by understanding ourselves, we move towards mastery over the world at large.

 

The Dream Founder
The Dream Founder || Dhruv Nath

The DREAM Founder is an essential entrepreneurship guide for early-stage Indian start-ups. It also has interviews with some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world of start-ups, such as Sanjeev Bikhchandani of Naukri.com, Deepinder Goyal of Zomato, Meena Ganesh of Portea Medical and Dr Annurag Batra of Businessworld.

Know Why ‘Leading from the Back’ Style of Leadership is Here to Stay!​

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.

Leading from the Back
Leading from the Back || Ravi Kant, Harry Paul, Ross Reck

 

***

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
June 2023

 

***

Get your copy of Leading from the Back by Ravi Kant, Harry Paul and Ross Reck wherever books are sold.

Let’s Play to Transform with these 21 Affirmations!

In Play To Transform, author Dr. Avinash Jhangiani unveils profound insights, empowering professionals to ignite hope and optimism within themselves before sharing it with others. And leading with confidence, to create a happy, connected environment that fosters steady growth. So let’s discover the power of positive thinking and self-talk as we present these 21 affirmations that will transform you into an authentic, purpose-driven leader.

Ready to play? Let’s begin!

Play to Transform
Play to Transform || Avinash Jhangiani

***

Play Manifesto for Your Inner Child

Hope and optimism can be effective drivers of change and leaders must understand how to provide these antidotes, not to just others but first to us. To receive maximum benefits in uncertain times, read positive affirmations before sleep or early morning. These are the times when you brain is in a calm, relaxed and programmable state. Note that the secret of making this work is to believe and feel these affirmations intensely in your heart. Your thoughts and feelings have a profound effect on your behaviours.

Here is the play manifesto with twenty-one positive affirmations to keep your inner child alive:

 

1. I have the power to create positive change.

2. I have a clear vision and bring clarity to everyone at work.

3. I create a happy, healthy, connected environment at work.

4. I create spaces to nurture curiosity, self-expression and creativity without judgement.

5. I create a sense of safety and belonging at work.

6. I set a positive example for others.

7. I am a cheerful, trustworthy, approachable person.

8. I am confident and can handle any obstacle in front of me.

9. I show my vulnerability and manage my emotions very well.

10. I allow others to fail and help them learn from their mistakes.

11. I give high candour, constructive feedback.

12. I inspire others to stretch and reach their truest potential.

13. I empower others to greatness with my infinite enthusiasm.

14. I provide opportunities for growth.

15. I learn something new and useful every day.

16. I make work fun and rewarding for everyone.

17. I am a conscious leader who puts purpose into profits.

18. I am an authentic leader who nurtures diversity, inclusion, and equity in the workplace.

19. I am grateful to my team, family and friends who help me grow as a leader.

20. I am proud of myself and very happy about my accomplishments.

21. With every breath I take, I bring more playful charisma and magnetism into my life

***

Get your copy of Play to Transform by Dr. Avinash Jhangiani wherever books are sold.

What Makes Madam President a Great Leader?

In the book, Madam President by Sandeep Sahu, we explore the life of Droupadi Murmu and take a look at her formative years, where she honed her leadership skills amidst numerous challenges and her unwavering pursuit for excellence that would later shape her into a trailblazing leader. From her unyielding passion for education to active participation in cultural activities, Droupadi Murmu’s talents shone brightly even in her youth.

Read this fascinating account to catch a glimpse of the leadership qualities that marked her journey from the village to the historic role of Madam President.

Madam President
Madam President || Sandeep Sahu

 

***

After completing her high school education, Murmu went back to her village. She wanted to pursue higher studies. But given the poor state of communication those days, she did not get to know about the commencement of the admission process. By the time she did, the last date for admission had already passed. As a result, she lost a year after school. She spent the year doing household chores and teaching younger girls in the village. But determined as she was to be a graduate, she took no chances the next year and duly took admission in the Ramadevi Women’s College, the premier women’s college in Bhubaneswar which now is a full-fledged university. However, since
the hostel for ST and SC students in the college was not yet ready, she continued boarding in her old school hostel for some more time.

 

Her former classmates and contemporaries remember her as a quiet, disciplined girl who denied herself the ordinary pleasures that her batchmates indulged in. She was not exactly an outstanding student but was extremely attentive in classes, never participating in the pranks other students were up to. She would borrow books and notes from her seniors and ask them to help her out with a subject if she had a problem understanding something. ‘She consulted me and other seniors on what subjects to choose for the undergraduate and graduate classes,’ says Delha Soren, her senior in college, in an interview with this author.

 

There was great camaraderie among the boarders in the hostel, who came from similar sociocultural milieu. ‘There were five girls in every room. If someone was busy with something when the dining bell was sounded, others would keep her meal ready. If it suddenly started raining, whoever was present would collect the dresses of everyone, not just her own, hung outside for drying,’ shares Delha.

 

With the pittance she got as monthly allowance from her father, there was no scope for indulgences in college for Murmu. In her four years at Ramadevi, she did not go to the college canteen even once, rarely went to the market and watched just one movie, an Odia film called Gapa Hele Bi Sata at the now defunct Ravi Talkies. She would mostly hang out with girls from Mayurbhanj. But she would come into her own whenever there was a sports meet or a cultural function in the college. ‘She excelled in sports and often ended up on the podium,’ recalls retired Prof. Anima Kar, who taught her at Ramadevi, while talking to this writer. ‘I remember because I used to do the running commentary,’ she adds

 

‘She was most sought after whenever there was a cultural event in the college or the hostel because not only did she sing very well, she also played the percussion instruments to perfection,’ remembers Gayamani Besra, her senior in college and a lifelong friend. ‘During annual functions in the college, we would organize an adivasi dance item and sing and play the tunda, which is a tribal musical instrument. She was so good at what she did. Everybody appreciated her skills as a singer and musician. She was a happy-go-lucky girl but was always respectful towards seniors.’ Besra is among those specially invited by Murmu for the swearing-in ceremony. She adds, ‘She would invariably be part of the choir that sang the opening song at every cultural function in the college.’

 

Once, the girls of the hostel staged a play in which Murmu played the ‘hero’. ‘It was such a huge success that there was an invitation from a cultural group in Baripada, the headquarters of Murmu’s home district of Mayurbhanj, to stage the drama there. Murmu and the troupe travelled to Baripada and performed the play there to thunderous applause,’ recalls Delha.

 

Murmu was a quiet girl alright, but she was never shy of speaking up when she felt something wasn’t fair. ‘She never contested any election in college, not even for a class representative. But her leadership qualities were evident even in those early years. I remember an occasion when there was an issue about the quality of food served in the hostel. She led a delegation of students that met the principal and got the issue sorted,’ says Surama Padhi, senior BJP leader and a former minister in the Odisha government who was her senior in college, in an interview with this author.

 

Beneath her shy exterior lay nerves of steel. Once, she was on her way to the hostel from the bus stand on a rickshaw with her senior Delha when they realized a boy was following them on a bicycle. Without panicking one bit, Murmu took out a bundle of twigs she had brought from home to be used as toothbrush (no one in the hostel used toothbrush in those days) and waved it at the street Romeo, who panicked and stopped following them.

***

Get your copy of Madam President by Sandeep Sahu from Amazon today.

Everything You Need to Know About Level 5 Leadership

IN 1971, A SEEMINGLY ordinary man named Darwin E. Smith was named chief executive of Kimberly-Clark, a stodgy old paper company whose stock had fallen 36% behind the general market during the previous 20 years. Smith, the company’s mild-mannered in-house lawyer, wasn’t so sure the board had made the right choice—a feeling that was reinforced when a Kimberly-Clark director pulled him aside and reminded him that he lacked some of the qualifications for the position. But CEO he was, and CEO he remained for 20 years.
What a 20 years it was. In that period, Smith created a stunning transformation at Kimberly-Clark, turning it into the leading consumer paper products company in the world. Under his stewardship, the company beat its rivals Scott Paper and Procter & Gamble. And in doing so, Kimberly-Clark generated cumulative stock returns that were 4.1 times greater than those of the general market, outperforming venerable companies such as Hewlett-Packard, 3M, CocaCola, and General Electric.
Smith’s turnaround of Kimberly-Clark is one the best examples in the twentieth century of a leader taking a company from merely good to truly great. And yet few people—even ardent students of business history—have heard of Darwin Smith. He probably would have liked it that way. Smith is a classic example of a Level 5 leader—an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will. According to our five-year research study, executives who possess this paradoxical combination of traits are catalysts for the statistically rare event of transforming a good company into a great one. (The research is described in the sidebar “One Question, Five Years, 11 Companies.”)
“Level 5” refers to the highest level in a hierarchy of executive capabilities that we identified during our research. Leaders at the other four levels in the hierarchy can produce high degrees of success but not enough to elevate companies from mediocrity to sustained excellence. (For more details about this concept, see the exhibit “The Level 5 Hierarchy.”) And while Level 5 leadership is not the only requirement for transforming a good company into a great one— other factors include getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and creating a culture of discipline—our research shows it to be essential. Good-to-great transformations don’t happen without Level 5 leaders at the helm. They just don’t.
Not What You Would Expect
Our discovery of Level 5 leadership is counterintuitive. Indeed, it is countercultural. People generally assume that transforming companies from good to great requires larger-than-life leaders—big personalities like Lee Iacocca, Al Dunlap, Jack Welch, and Stanley Gault, who make headlines and become celebrities.
Compared with those CEOs, Darwin Smith seems to have come from Mars. Shy, unpretentious, even awkward, Smith shunned attention. When a journalist asked him to describe his management style, Smith just stared back at the scribe from the other side of his thick black-rimmed glasses. He was dressed unfashionably, like a farm boy wearing his first J.C. Penney suit. Finally, after a long and uncomfortable silence, he said, “Eccentric.” Needless to say, the Wall Street Journal did not publish a splashy feature on Darwin Smith.
But if you were to consider Smith soft or meek, you would be terribly mistaken. His lack of pretense was coupled with a fierce, even stoic, resolve toward life. Smith grew up on an Indiana farm and put himself through night school at Indiana University by working the day shift at International Harvester. One day, he lost a finger on the job. The story goes that he went to class that evening and returned to work the very next day. Eventually, this poor but determined Indiana farm boy earned admission to Harvard Law School.
He showed the same iron will when he was at the helm of Kimberly-Clark. Indeed, two months after Smith became CEO, doctors diagnosed him with nose and throat cancer and told him he had less than a year to live. He duly informed the board of his illness but said he had no plans to die anytime soon. Smith held to his demanding work schedule while commuting weekly from Wisconsin to Houston for radiation therapy. He lived 25 more years, 20 of them as CEO. Smith’s ferocious resolve was crucial to the rebuilding of Kimberly-Clark, especially when he made the most dramatic decision in the company’s history: selling the mills.
This is an excerpt from HBR’s 10 Must Reads (On Leadership). Get your copy here.
Credit: Abhishek Singh

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