Books

The journey to leadership roles

Thomas K Thomas | Updated on May 23, 2021

Title: The Rule of 5:Leadership and the E5 Movement Author: Paul Dupuis Publisher: Jaico Publishing House Price: ₹399

The author, citing his own experiences, delves into the qualities required to become a good leader

It is easy to identify a good leader when we see one. Be it at the company we work, the community we live in, or in the political landscape of the country, individuals who possess leadership qualities always stand out.

However, every leader has his/her own formula for success based on experiences and the inherent qualities he/she possesses. Therefore the leadership style practised by Jack Welch at GE would be very different from how Bill Gates operated at Microsoft.

Over the years, researchers and corporate leaders have written hundreds of thesis papers and books in trying to define the traits of a good leader. But one still struggles to get firm answers to questions like: Are great leaders defined by their achievements? Are leaders defined by how their followers perceive them to be? Can leadership be learned? Is there a perfect combination of qualities that allows individuals to rise to leadership roles?

Five pillars

Paul Dupuis attempts to provide answers to some of these questions through what he calls the E5 Movement comprising Envision, Express, Excite, Enable and Execute. Dupuis believes that these five pillars together become a game-changing formula that helps leaders find a new approach to each new challenge.

Dupuis says that leaders often spend time finding the answer to the ‘what’ of doing business, but what’s more critical is to be aware of the ‘why’.

This needs vision. For example, Henry Ford’s vision was simple — make the automobile affordable for even the common man. He made sure to increase the wages of his factory workers so that one day they too would be able to purchase the very vehicles that they were manufacturing.

This led to increased motivation among employees who shared the same vision as their boss, lower attrition rates, and ultimately, bigger revenues.

Once you have a vision, then it needs to be translated, articulated, and communicated to the entire team so that together they can stitch the path towards fulfilling that vision.

Expressing the vision

According to Dupuis, one important part of expressing the vision is ‘listening’ to the team and being cued to the corporate culture.

The team will get excited when the leader makes the connection with them to express the vision for the company.

Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison are cited as great examples of leaders who could excite their teams. Both had larger-than-life visions of the future which they expressed to their employees.

Jobs constantly told his team that the work they were doing was going to send a giant ripple through the universe. It is important to address the employee’s unsaid question: “What’s in it for me?”

The next step, according to Dupuis, is to create an enabling environment that drives the team to achieve the stated vision. This is done by creating opportunities for people to excel and thrive in whatever they do.

Some leaders become myopic and focus on just technology and processes, thinking that this is what will get the job done.

As Jack Welch said, before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.

The final stage is putting all the work into action. Once the plan is put into action, leaders have to carefully learn from their mistakes and identify and build on the strengths.

The book describes Dupuis’s own journey to leadership. He acknowledges that many leadership opportunities came to him by accident. For example, in his 20s, he left home in Canada to go to Japan and experience a new culture.

He got a job to teach in an English language institute. One day, all the teachers resigned to protest against the owner and Dupuis found that he had been made manager overnight.

Concepts repackaged

Being an experienced business leader Dupuis has natural authority to talk about what has worked for him over the years.

But the book does not offer anything new in defining good leadership. It repackages concepts that have been discussed before with real-life examples from Dupuis's own experiences.

The reality of today is that there is a dearth of good leaders. Many individuals who have taken up leadership roles are consumed by their own success that they forget about their responsibilities towards their followers. The need for good leaders has become more urgent given that we are living in highly uncertain times where almost all plans have gone awry.

The pandemic, for instance, has dealt such a tragic blow to humanity that many leaders are struggling to steer their flock out of the precarious situation. In these circumstances perhaps, Dupuis could add another E to his formula — Empathy. This is a quality one doesn’t typically see on a list of top CEO character traits.

Published on May 23, 2021

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