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The Mind of the Leader: How to Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results.

The Mind of the Leader: How to Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results

Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter (Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press, 2018)

The Mind of the Leader takes a nontraditional approach to management guidance, focusing on mindset rather than specific actions. The authors, Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter, are the founder and North American director, respectively, of the Potential Project, a firm that consults with large companies on how to apply mindfulness to improve individual and organizational results. The book presents what the authors call an MSC (mindfulness, selflessness, compassion) leadership approach and builds upon it with social science and psychological research and stories from the Potential Project's client firms. It is a refreshingly different approach, one that innovation leaders--and their organizations--can benefit from.

The first chapter outlines the overall approach, mapping each of the MSC components against their opposites in a matrix. Those components can be described in a few sentences:

* The mindful leader is focused and aware; the mindless leader is distracted, functioning on autopilot.

* The selfless leader supports a selfless and confident culture; the narcissist leader is focused only on himself or insecure, setting the tone for a culture that is also selfish or diffident.

* The compassionate leader is benevolent, demonstrating care by offering wisdom and guidance; leaders of the opposite type are indifferent to and ignorant of subordinates' needs and may be seen by the people they lead as incompetent.

Once the authors have described their terms and the types of mindsets with which they are associated, they provide guidance on how to understand and lead yourself, your people, and your organization in a series of discussions that start with improving understanding and move through developing and applying mindfulness, selflessness, and compassion. Each chapter concludes with quick tips and reflections that summarize the concepts. The first section, focused on leading yourself, offers training sessions that demonstrate how to apply the principles.

The core principle of this initial discussion is that the leader must start with his or her own mindset before seeking to effect change elsewhere. Accordingly, this is the most detailed section of the book, offering specifics about the difference between happiness and pleasure and the faculties that support focus and attention. The training sessions are five-minute mental exercises, largely intended to help the reader clear his or her mind and focus on the concepts. The discussion also mentions an app (from the Potential Project) that offers additional materials.

The later parts of the book expand on the self perspective to consider others and how they might be affected by the leader's adoption of the MSC model. These discussions alternate between general philosophical concepts, such as notions of ego and pride, and very specific tips, such as considering the effect of how you sit and hold yourself during meetings or personal discussions. All of these elements are presented in light of the MSC model, and the authors consistently remind readers to first apply the principles to themselves and then use them in interactions with others. Many of the concepts are quite consistent with transformational leadership styles that emphasize inclusion and respect, but the insights offered by Hougaard and Carter are very specific. That specificity, combined with stories of company leaders that have achieved success by applying these concepts, provides a level of confidence for the reader.

Innovation and R&D leaders can benefit from this book's emphasis on mindset over behavior modification. In the heavily technical and increasingly fractured world of R&D and innovation, where new concepts and issues arise and recede at an accelerating pace, the MSC concept provides a refreshing break. Even if it's not possible for the reader to act on all the pieces of the model, there are nuggets most readers are likely to remember and carry into their work.

Probably the biggest benefit of the overall approach is that, in addition to defining the MSC model, the authors discuss the consequences of being on the opposite quadrant of the matrix, giving readers something they can relate to in some degree, either by identifying traits in themselves or by seeing them in others. The book's structured presentation also makes it easier to remember the principles and techniques and put them into action. Overall, The Mind of the Leader provides some very beneficial food for thought for R&D and innovation leaders.

[c] 2018 FM Global. Louis Gritzo is Vice President of Research at FM Global, louis. gritzo@fmglobal.com
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Author:Gritzo, Louis
Publication:Research-Technology Management
Article Type:Book review
Date:Nov 1, 2018
Words:746
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