‘ASCENT – A Practising Manager’s Growth Mantra’, (published by Random House, Gurgaon, India; 2014; ISBN 978 81 8400 623 0). A book on Growth Management with the onus squarely on Leadership is primarily for practising Managers. Foreword by Jonathan Gosling, Professor of Leadership and Co-founder of IMPM. Available on Amazon, Flipkart, Crossword, etc. Links at the end of this page..
This book is for individuals who would like to end their lives with a smile on their lips reminiscing about what they have left behind in the minds and lives of other people. The ‘beyond expectations’ way offers an alternative approach to management, or even life in general. It may help wean people away frombeing mainly driven by thenatural expectation of gratifying unfulfilled needs—the ‘meeting expectations’ way of motivation explained by Abraham Maslow in 1943. The morass we see in organizations or the society today, the consistent compromise of values, the stressed and cynical faces we see in mirrors or otherwise, the busy manager and the shackled employee—are all sicknesses with aetiologies rooted in the unbridled practice of motivation theory aimed at the lower needs of mankind. The ‘meeting expectations’ way stokes the short-term approach in man resulting in a self-created predatory society, dragging us into the nadirs of a lowest common denominator (LCD) Syndrome. The LCD Syndrome and how we unknowingly create a predatory society is explained in Part 2.
I propose instead a long-term, purpose-driven leadership grounded in volitional engagement to wrench us out of this malaise. This book seeks to usher readers out of the motivational trap, actualize their development potential that most of us are naturally bestowed with, and become Leader Managers. This book is about Growth Management, as it is leader managers who create growth and none else.
Leader managers are people who decide and act driven by the Purpose of Action and not by what they may make in the bargain. These leaders are not caged by others’ or their own expectations. They are able to contribute to leadership values like ethics, empathy, creativity, innovation, greatness, social responsibility, and development of other conscientious leaders. This leads to Remarkable Achievements and the final goal of an enterprise—sustained profitable growth. There cannot be anything more remarkable than the above leadership values that one may wish from managers or management who steer enterprises (public and private) and indirectly the society we live in.
As a practising manager, I have been lucky to be mostly in the business of growth management. This purpose brought me to an obsessive search for what—if not short-term pecuniary motivators—makes leaders contribute towards remarkable achievements. Remarkable, as they had to be achieved in situations laced with uncertainty, ambiguity, opposition, or lack of agreement—characterized by the word, complexity.
I found a simple link between growth management and leadership, which I present below as the practising manager’s growth mantra.
The Practising Manager’s Growth Mantra
- Growth in an enterprise is created through remarkable achievements, not incremental achievements like efficiency or effectiveness.
- Remarkable achievements are possible only in complexity.
- Only volitional engagement can work in complexity. Luckily, there is no certainty in complexity. Hence, motivational engagement cannot work.
- People who make choices based on the purpose can only be volitionally engaged—they are the growth managers, the leaders.
The link between remarkable achievements, complexity, and leadership lies so close to the borders of anarchy or utopia that only finite mindsets based upon choice and volition can provide deeper anchoring. Uncertainty, temptation, risk, attrition, globalization, multiple cultures, and varying contexts need sustained leadership based on sustainable leadership values. And this cannot come from fragile motivational engagement that can be blown away by winds of uncertainty or opposition. While motivation theory, systems, and processes are necessary for executing day-to-day operations, these are not helpful in developing foresight, building strategies, differentiation, or in developing leaders who can manage all the above with sustained quality and ownership.
Motivation theory as practiced in organizations is mostly about pecuniary benefits that offer a reasonable hope of gratifying baser needs like survival or self-esteem. These motivators may lead to incremental achievements, but not to remarkable achievements or develop leadership values like ethics, empathy, creativity, innovation, or greatness. Short-term motivators cannot lead managers to develop conscientious leaders who are socially responsible.
This book is divided into six part with the core purpose of encouraging managers to think, believe, and act as leaders and develop the wherewithal to practice the Growth Mantra. We start with a simple view of a manager’s life when she becomes a manager for the first time and then play with the semantics of the labels—Manager and Leader—to draw clear interpretations of them. The second part takes the reader into contexts where a manager needs to develop, manage, and grow. The third part delves into the professional knowledge requirements of a manager without which one can be, at best, a layman manager. In the fourth part, we see the manager in practice as a leader and find application of the Growth Mantra. The fifth part explains the evolution of a leader and pegs the onus of developing leadership on parenting, managers, and the individual before probing deeper into Growth Management in today’s global business environment.
Every chapter is a real-life expression or experience of a practising manager. The reader goes through a roller-coaster ride of sometimes thinking as a manager, at other times as a leader or a follower. Each paradigm under discussion gives you a chance to reflect and cross your own Rubicons into the world of volition or remain a prisoner of volatile motivators, whether intrinsic or extrinsic. The last part is a first person account of the vulnerability in decision making and the various choices with changing contexts and quandary in the life of a manager—resulting in reflections on life as a whole. After all, the work of a manager or a leader is just a subset of her entire life.
In sharing my little journey, I sincerely hope that ‘The Practising Manager’s Growth Mantra’ provokes readers and helps knowledge workers and managers in choosing a way forward that leads to happiness, actualization of their potential, and bring back the romance of an enterprise in the knowledge industry and society we live in today.