Cases in Leadership By W. Glenn Rowe and Laura Guerrero - A Book Review
Leadership persistently continues to be a hot topic and as researches continue to happen trying to uncover what makes a leader productive and successful; there is a persistent need of an academic text that provides a blend of theory and real cases for understanding and providing training on leadership. Connecting theory to practice in this book, W Glenn Rowe and Laura Guererro provide an opportunity for the readers to stay updated with the latest in leadership concepts and confront real-world issues and dilemmas pragmatically. W. Glenn Rowe’s experience in the Canadian Navy for 22 years and academic experience in teaching strategy and strategic leadership in Ivey business school coupled with Laura Guerrero rich experience in teaching management and human resources at the University of Texas and Houston is reflected in this well- thought book that is a welcome addition for students, academicians and people in business.
Several books on leadership get published every year, some of which go on to become business classics that every aspiring manager or leader must read. For example, the book by Warren Bennis titled, ‘On Becoming a Leader’ offering insights into the qualities that define leadership and discussing strategies that anyone can apply to achieve it, became an instant bestseller. Great leaders inspire by placing their trust in their followers, giving them the right opportunities for self-growth while working collaboratively to attain organizational goals. Leadership persistently continues to be a hot topic. As researchers continue to uncover what makes a leader productive and successful, there is a persistent need for an academic text that provides a blend of theory and real cases for understanding and training on leadership. Connecting theory to practice in this book, W GlennRowe and Laura Guererro provide an opportunity for the readers to stay updated with the latest in leadership concepts and confront real-world issues and dilemmas pragmatically. W. Glenn Rowe’s experience in the Canadian Navy for 22 years and academic experience in teaching strategy and strategic leadership in Ivey business school coupled with Laura Guerrero rich experience in teaching management and human resources at the University of Texas and Houston is reflected in this well-thought book that is a welcome addition for students, academicians and people in business.
The book has fifteen chapters, and the authors have done a great job in presenting an array of leadership topics like; the leadership trait approach, leadership skills approach, leadership styles, followership, leader-member exchange theory of leadership, transformational leadership, servant leadership, authentic leadership, adaptive leadership, team leadership, strategic leadership, women and leadership, culture and leadership and ethical leadership. Teachers in academic institutions offering courses on leadership are looking for a book that serves as a handbook for their graduate, postgraduate and management development programs. Consisting of this wide range of topics on leadership and each chapter is accompanied by a distinctive collection of real-world leadership cases from Ivey publishing and practitioner readings. The updated fifth edition of this book is an invaluable companion for anyone studying leadership.
The book begins with exploring trait versus process leadership, leadership and power, leadership and coercion and leadership and management. The chapter on the trait approach further delves deeper into traits like intelligence, self-confidence, integrity, sociability, big five personality models and emotional intelligence, trying to investigate how the trait approach works. The trait theory of leadership that focuses on the leader and the traits that make them more effective has always been a critical area in leadership research. For example, the famous book on primal leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie Mc Kee established the importance of emotional intelligence as a critical differentiating factor for leadership success. The chapter on the leadership skills approach studies the Katz skills approach, leadership competencies and individual attributes. The fourth chapter studies how leadership styles work. The two associated cases, one on the leadership crisis at Steelworks Xiamen plant and the second on Huo’s Group help better understand and relate the underpinnings of leadership styles and organizational success.
Each chapter is rich with an in-depth literature review of the topic in discussion. For example, in the fifth chapter on followership, they presented the evolution of followership in academic research from 1900 to 2017. From five mentions between 1948 and 1980, it increased to 43 articles with the word leadership in the title and 175 papers with followership as a topic in 2017. From tracing the evolution of the followership concept, quoting phenomenal work in the area, to covering recent work on followership and offering a practitioner’s perspective, the contents flow seamlessly. The first case for discussion is of Jones Schilling Employee Coaching Workshop. which presents a scenario where four managers are preparing to coach their Gen Y employees on how they can contribute better to the firm’s performance. The case allows discussion on how to recognize and seize the opportunity to coach for talent development, to improve followership informally. The second case for this chapter is ‘ Sarah Vickers: Post Acquisition Career Management’, which presents the case of a senior vice president of a Canadian company who is asked for recommendations and is confronted with a dilemma of whether to stand by her judgment or to bow to her superiors wishes. The case provides an excellent discussion point on the ethics and career impact of changing a professional opinion under pressure from top management. The reading by John S McCallum successfully reaffirms that studies on followership are equally important as good leadership and build on qualities of good followers like judgment, competence, honesty, courage, discretion and ego management, to name a few.
The book successfully explores the complex nature of leadership in organizations by taking cases worldwide to contemplate integral issues, such as globalization, diversity and ethical dilemmas. For instance, the chapter on leader-member exchange theory comes with an informative reading on how to build a healthy leadership pipeline. The chapter on authentic leadership not only defines authentic leadership but delves into the theoretical approaches like self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, balanced processing, relational transparency and other factors that influence authentic leadership. The chapter on adaptive leadership, with a section on what the military can tell us’ provides readers with insightful learning about a practical leadership framework that can help individuals and organizations thrive in challenging environments.
Each chapter begins with a quote that sets forth the intention and foundation of the chapter. For instance, the servant leadership chapter starts with Robert K Greenleaf’s opening passage. This passage articulates well that the servant leader is a servant first who is sharply different from the one who is a leader first. Different shadings provide an understanding of the infinite variety in human nature between the leaders-first and servant-first extreme types.
The chapter covers characteristics central to servant leadership and factors like leader attributes, context culture, follower receptivity and others that affect the servant leadership process. The two cases and the reading on Gandhi aptly summarize that servant leadership is about leaders committing themselves to put their subordinates first, being honest with them, and treating them fairly. These behaviours manifest in healthier, wiser, freer, autonomous persons who can achieve their potential under the leader. The chapter on strategic leadership explores the components of strategic leadership, like determining the firm’s vision, developing human capital, exploiting and maintaining core competencies, sustaining effective culture and establishing balanced organizational controls. The revised chapter on women and leadership examines the human capital differences, prejudices and navigating the glass ceiling turned labyrinth. The case on woman board directors championing tough issues, and the reading on gender equality is fulfilling.
Leaders spend most of their time learning how to do their work and helping others learn to do theirs. Yet, culture and cross-culture environments strongly influence their performance, behaviour and results. Chapter 14 on culture and leadership explores culture, diversity, and ethnocentrism. The theme has been aptly supplemented with an excellent case on ‘Tata: Leadership with Trust’ ; a company well recognized for its profitability, competitiveness and long-standing tradition of social responsibility. Effective team leadership assumes behavioural flexibility, problem-solving skills applicable to teams, and using discretion when determining if leader intervention is necessary. The chapter on team leadership assists in apprehending how the team leaders can assess their team’s effectiveness and figure out when and where the team’s leaders need to intervene. Ethics is central to leadership, and the last chapter on ethical leadership presents a guide to decision-making situations that one can confront as a leader. It discusses several perspectives on making ethical decisions, appreciating that good leaders stand and act on principle. Attention has been drawn to the principles that are believed to lead to ethical leadership development, like respect for others, service to others, justice for others, honesty toward others, and building community with others in this section. Overall, this well-structured book, ‘Cases in Leadership’, fifth edition, updated with new cases and readings, satiates the readers having research interest in the theme of leadership. It also serves as a practical guide to those looking to understand different aspects of leadership or to use it in training on leadership as a practical skill.