Ambition made them tycoons, and how!

Ratan Tata, N R Narayana Murthy, Anand Mahindra and Anu Aga are among the 36 leaders featured in a forthcoming book on leadership, by Harvard veterans, which argues that great leaders and successful companies are made when they pursue economic and social values with the same set of priorities and commitment.

Today’s CEOs are tasked with delivering profits and value in a challenging climate under increasing public scrutiny. Successful leaders are those that have figured out how to outperform their peers without pitting people against profits. A new book, Higher Ambition: How Great Leaders Create Economic and Social Value (Harvard Business Review Press, September 2011) collects insights from 36 such CEOs from major organizations like The Tata Group, Mahindra, Volvo, Campbell’s Soup Company and IKEA and unveils their leadership strategy.

Higher Ambition: How Great Leaders Create Economic and Social Value takes you inside the minds of some of the most successful and insightful leaders of our time, the leaders from companies as diverse as Standard Chartered Bank, Infosys, Nokia, Cummins, Ikea, Tata, Thermax, Mahindra & Mahindra and Campbell’s Soup. The authors reveal how these leaders from around the world are converging on a new management paradigm that unlocks the energy and potential of their people to deliver superior economic and social value.

“Higher ambition leadership is about pursuing economic and social values with the same priorities. These leaders do not compromise between the two and that is what is differentiating them from what we see in many other executives around the world,” said Flemming Norrgren, one of the five authors of the book. Norrgren has led more than 30 different management research projects in the past and is a partner with TruePoint, a US-based research firm that partners with organisations and leaders.

“They share in common a high degree of integrity and they are also integrating all the different measures that they take from strategy to leadership development to how they build organizational capabilities with the same priorities of always looking at both the social side and economic side,” Norrgren told Financial Chronicle in Mumbai.

In fact Norrgren joined the four Indian leaders along with Nitin Nohria, the dean of Harvard Business School, for a panel discussion on the same topic in the presence of several HBS alumni in Mumbai on Tuesday (August 23) evening.

While it is a fact that today’s business leaders are tasked with delivering profits and value in a challenging climate under increasing public scrutiny, successful leaders, according to the authors, are those that have figured out how to outperform their peers without pitting people against profits.

The book identifies the specific leadership goals that are essential for achieving sustainable value across all constituencies, including how to: find a winning approach for both people and profits; forge a successful strategic identity; build a shared commitment to excel; create a global community that embraces diversity; and energize leadership at all levels.

Norrgren with his co-authors spent close to five years researching for this book after Michael Beer, one of the authors and a partner at TruePoint, was initially thinking of a book on ‘high performance, high commitment companies’ based on his 40 years of experience in management, organizational design, strategic human resources, organizational psychology and organizational development.

rejijohn@mydigitalfc.com

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