A concise book that asserts that the concept of leadership must change for it to flourish in an increasingly complex environment.
Mutizwa (The Arc of Awareness, 2014, etc.) isn’t a newcomer to business-leadership literature, as this is his fourth book on the subject. The crux of his argument is that a new style of leading will be necessary to meet the demands generated by the world’s “phenomenal increase in complexity.” There have been paradigm shifts in the way that wealth is created, he writes, as well as the sea change of social media and the Internet; he also notes the increasing interdependence of various elements of the global economic order and the changing metrics for business success. He uses the term “VUCA” to describe this new world—an acronym that’s more instructive than it is catchy and which stands for “volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.” In this new milieu, he says, traditional, top-down leadership must give way to something more nuanced, which includes increased employee participation in companies’ overall missions. The book’s first section looks at the nature of “humane leadership” and includes a basic definition that’s relevant to the current business climate. The second part is more mechanical and describes the “strategic levers” of leadership, detailing its applications. Finally, the third, most psychological section analyzes the behaviors and mindsets that typify successful leaders. Overall, this work doesn’t break much new ground, with its emphasis on adaptability, self-accountability, strategic clarity, and social justice. However, it’s still a very clear, practical synopsis of the ways that business conditions have changed. Also, for all of the author’s emphasis on inclusiveness, he never loses sight of leaders’ indispensability: “They tend to see more and they tend to see far….They can see which units and which individuals are collaborating and which are not. They have sight of where expertise is in oversupply and where it is sorely needed. They can see how resources are deployed and have a sense of how they are being utilized.”
An accessible introduction to the challenges that modern business leaders face.