x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Author Rajeev Peshawaria advises what makes a great leader

The Life: Rajeev Peshawaria details how a being a leader is better than being a boss.

Rajeev Peshawaria, the author of Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders, was one of the founding members of Pine Street. Pawan Singh / The National
Rajeev Peshawaria, the author of Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders, was one of the founding members of Pine Street. Pawan Singh / The National

Rajeev Peshawaria, the author of a new book Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders, began his career as a banker in India in the late 1980s and was later one of the founding members of Pine Street, the prestigious Goldman Sachs leadership development programme. He is now chief executive of the ICLIF Leadership and Governance Centre, a non-profit centre for leadership development and corporate governance based in Malaysia.

Explain the title of your book.

I have asked people on every continent that of all the bosses you have worked for how many would you call a truly great leader? The average answer is between zero and two.

What makes a great leader?

A great leader is one who not only has a great purpose, but also has the courage to act according to a set of deeply help values. Howard Schultz of Starbucks is one such leader. He runs Starbucks on values of respect, dignity and participation while still delivering exceptional returns to shareholders.

Can you sum up your book in a few sentences?

Leadership is the art of harnessing human energy towards the creation of a better future. The first step is to close your eyes and envision a better future. Next, you need to enlist a team of co-leaders and align their energy towards shared purpose. Finally, you need to galvanise the energy of large numbers of people so that energy is not wasted, and is fully used towards the creation of the chosen better future.

Your book focuses on the three essential principles you need to become an extraordinary leader. What are they?

One, leadership is about staying the long course despite the most formidable of obstacles. For this you need limitless personal energy. The only way to find your limitless leadership energy is to develop laser-sharp clarity about your purpose and values. Two, in today's world, no one has all the answers. Leadership today is much more of a team sport than ever before. The final step is to galvanise the energy of everyone else in the organisation.

You are based in Malaysia but come to the UAE regularly. Why?

The ICLIF Leadership and Governance Centre only recently started focusing on the Middle East. Over the past few months we have been talking to companies and organisations in Dubai, and also conducting seminars. We recently entered into a strategic alliance with Zayed University to deliver joint programmes. We also have a similar agreement with the [Dubai-based] Hawkamah corporate governance institute. We are encouraged by the response to our products and services in UAE, and hope to grow our footprint here over the next few years. We believe talent development is key to the long-term success and sustainability of this region, and that we can play a meaningful role in helping organisations here.

* Gillian Duncan