A self-help guide teaches the basic principles of leadership demanded by an ever-shifting global landscape.
Leadership is hardly a new concept, although an entire publishing industry has been structured around its exploration in the last 10 years or so. Kayandabila (Rediscover the Power of Your Identity, 2010) makes the case that the irrepressible onslaught of globalization and the rise of e-commerce require a reinterpretation of the idea. Now there is an unprecedented need for someone more agile, infinitely adaptable, and passionate not only about results, but also the creation of a culture of personal fulfillment for others. True team leaders are also team players, mentoring those they identify as the “high potential leaders” of the future. And today, effective leadership requires a “global mindset,” which means something like a cosmopolitan disposition that embraces and learns from cultural diversity. The author divides the book into three sections: the first focuses on the transformation of leadership by the digital age, the second on the process of self-development for leaders, and the concluding part anatomizes the mindset that characterizes successful ones. This last section is by far the most absorbing. Kayandabila—who lives in Tanzania and studied medicine there—analyzes the leadership qualities of the brightest luminaries in Africa. But the writing is dense and convoluted, and once disentangled often communicates a simple truism about the nature of leadership. Consider this definition of the “mantle of leadership,” which manages to be vague, banal, and long-winded: “In essence the mantle of leadership is an individual’s leadership system; it’s an invisible sense of disposition; a true sense of the right attitude; an internal state of moral authority; an inner potential that is capable of growth and evolution; it’s a moral intelligence that can be learned, acquired, and communicated from leader-to-leader, leader-to-followers or leader-to-situation and environment.” There’s very little counsel provided that rises above such airy generalities, with the book offering equally broad discussions of the new requisites of the digital economy and globalization. It’s refreshing to find a discussion of a region rarely interpreted as an incubator of world leaders, but disappointing to see that innovation undermined by platitudes.
Another contribution to leadership studies that largely revisits well-traversed ground.