The Art of Leadership

K. Narasimhan (Learning and Teaching Fellow, Bolton Institute, UK)

The TQM Magazine

ISSN: 0954-478X

Article publication date: 1 June 2004




Narasimhan, K. (2004), "The Art of Leadership", The TQM Magazine, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 225-226.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Leadership is one of the key enablers of effective implementation of TQM or any of the Business Excellence Models, such as the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM). Hence, a study of the art of leadership will aid in understanding the differences between managing and leading an organization or a project.

George Manning and Kent Curtis are both professors at North Kentucky University, USA, and they have wide consultancy experience in business, industry, and government. The former's clients include IBM, General Electric, and the latter's clients include American Electric Power and Texas Medical Center.

The book is written in conversational style with the inclusion of true‐life examples, which make it easy to understand and remember the concepts. Learning activities are provided to bridge the gap between theory and its application in practice. The book comprises 28 units grouped into nine parts. There is also a glossary of terms and endnotes, which in fact is a comprehensive bibliography. In addition, there is a 13‐page introduction to the book, which briefly explains the “what” and “why” of leadership, factors that influence the leadership process, and the nine key areas of leadership (the theme of the subsequent nine parts).

Part one, comprising four chapters, deals with leadership variables. The first chapter is titled “The Leadership Equation” and briefly covers three different theories of leadership: the trait theory, the behavior theory, and the contingency theory. The next two chapters are very brief. The ten qualities of leadership are briefly described and a self‐assessment questionnaire is provided in Chapter 2; and the characteristics of followers and the importance of trust are covered in Chapter 3. Situational factors such as the size, the organizational climate that influence the leadership process are covered in Chapter 4, which contains two questionnaires for assessing seven styles of intelligence of the leader and three preferred styles of leading (directive, participative, or free‐rein).

The Power of Vision is the theme of part two, comprising three chapters. The importance of vision and the principles of visioning process and the content of an overall vision are covered in the first chapter. The famous “I Have a Dream” vision of the civil rights leader Martin Luther King (Jr) is reproduced in full, to emphasize the power of the words. A 20‐item questionnaire to evaluate one's leadership effectiveness is also included. The motivation to lead and the organizational climate are covered in the next two brief chapters.

The Importance of Ethics is covered in three chapters, which form part three. “What” and “Why” and the levels of morality are covered in the first chapter. The role of values in personal life and at work is covered in some depth in the second chapter, which also contains a questionnaire to assess and categorize personal value orientation into six categories: theoretical, economic, aesthetic, social, political and religious. Ethics at work is covered in brief in the third chapter, which contains a matrix of 14 ethical dimensions and three organizational climates (profit maximizing, trusteeship, and quality of life management).

Empowering people to achieve a high‐performance workplace through quality initiatives is covered in the three chapters in part four. The importance of human relations and teamwork in building high‐performance workgroups and the principles and practices of effective leadership in developing effective teams are covered in part five, which also has three chapters.

The three chapters forming part six are devoted to issues connected with understanding people. The topic of motivation and the characteristics of the self‐actualized person are covered in the first chapter. The next two chapters deal, respectively, with the art of persuasion and managing diversity in a sensitive way, which has become imperative in the age of globalization and deregulation.

Parts seven and eight deal with various aspects of developing people. The three chapters of part seven deal, respectively, with effective delegation to ensure continuation of the business, which should be the goal of every manager; the 12 principles of assigning work, and the effect of interpersonal relations that are the cause of many problems at work, and how to deal with different types of people. A 26‐item interpersonal style questionnaire (with guidelines for scoring and interpreting) to assess and categorize a leader's style into traditional, participative, and individualistic styles is also provided. Part eight covers three other aspects: the leader as a teacher, helping people through organizational change, and preventing stress and burnout of staff.

Performance Management is the topic of the final part comprising three chapters. Managing performance by planning, coaching and correcting is covered in the first chapter. A performance review checklist and a 20‐item instrument for rating supervisors are also provided. Evaluating job performance in three important areas – statesmanship, entrepreneurship, and innovation – using a questionnaire and plotting the results in the form of a “performance pyramid” are covered in the following chapter. Ideas for improving performance in the three areas are also provided. Sustaining discipline is very briefly covered in the final chapter.

The hands on exercises in the book are quite useful for understanding the principles as well as self‐assessment. The book is written in jargon free language. It should appeal to both students as well as practitioners wanting to improve performance as leaders. The reviewer thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and has benefited by doing some of the exercises which were very revealing.

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