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Book review: How to help an elephant make a U-turn by GK Jayaraman

How to Help An Elephant Make a U-turn, by GK Jayaraman, talks about personal transformation as a key to change and leadership.

How to Help An Elephant Make a U-turn by GK Jayaraman

How to Help An Elephant Make a U-turn by GK Jayaraman

How to Help An Elephant Make a U-turn

Author: GK Jayaram
Pages: 263
Price: Rs 500
Publishers: Maven | Rupa

Dear Jayaram,

I am taking the liberty of calling you by your first name since in the author's note you have invited the reader to 'talk to you' (over a mellow drink) rather than simply 'read' the book. Actually that's a novel way to have a lesson on leadership.

I picked you up at the Higginbotham's in Chennai Airport during a long layover between flights. Over the years I have become a bit wary of books on leadership with every other superannuated executive writing a book. But, the green jacket held my attention and what caught my eye were the words "transformational change". Flipping the pages I found another term "transcendental leadership''. So, is this guy talking of personal transformation as a key to change and leadership? - I asked myself and there you got me hooked.

I was fascinated by the concept of RORE - 'revolution of rising expectation'. What could be more relevant for a country of young people like ours waiting to break free in the world. It is an empowered generation with a mind of its own, who believes in its abilities and think it's not less than equal to anyone - what you call PROBE (Promise in and Belief of Equality). The challenge is as much for the business leader as it is for the societal and political leadership in how to harness this energy and transcend the past.

I am glad that you have taken the concept beyond the narrow framework of corporate organisation to society at large. Today's leaders must recognise this shift in attitude and aspirations of the young who want to reach the top solely on merit. Frankly, I don't care much for the testimonials and interviews you have laced the book with. They came across to me as your 'Infy' Groupies or the Bangalore Club cronies who intrude into our quiet chat at the Bar. Though overladen with the quotes and excerpts from other leadership classics, it was a great idea to bring in examples of the Anna movement and the fall of the Indian 'poster-boy' of corporate America to bring home the importance of integrity, intensity and imagination in your model of transcendental leadership. It's easy to understand why Narayana Murthy calls you the "quintessential, friend, philosopher and guide".


PS: Hope you have gifted an autographed copy to the Prime Minister. And, even Arvind Kejriwal could do with one so that he can "transcend" his past mistakes and provide transformational leadership.

(The author has over two decades of leadership experience in consumer goods and media industries. Follow him on twitter: @SandipGhose)

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