About the Author : Dr. Pawan Verma is an author, professional speaker and Management Consultant from India’s financial services sector. He has got a rich experience in guiding start-ups, serving on boards and leading business initiatives in large organizations, such as the Reliance Group of Industries, Reliance ADA Group, LIC of India and Star Union Dai-ichi Life Insurance. As a thought leader, his passionate intellectual curiosities have often led him to challenge established practices and systems, leading to product and process innovations.
Chit Chat Session
Congratulations for your book “Age of the Imperfect Leader” and for all the lovely reviews! How are you feeling?
Oh, it gives a lovely feeling, particularly because the book has been received very well in the market place. I am also glad that the basic idea of leadership, propounded in the book has received extensive critical acclaim and readers have liked the much-needed disruption in the management thinking and leadership models that we have been following for centuries. This change in focus is the need of the hour. As the book asserts, if you continue to lead today with the methods of yesterday, you are bound to go out of leadership tomorrow.
Kindly acquaint our readers with the contents of the book
This book basically challenges our conventional wisdom on leadership and offers a disruptive approach on the subject. It highlights how traditional leadership models aim at creating “perfect” leaders by mandating a set of leadership traits and expecting everyone to master their weaknesses. Since human beings are essentially imperfect creations, such a pursuit of perfection eventually ends up in a quest for mediocrity. While our weaknesses do get marginally improved, our strengths remain drastically under-developed. No wonder, in today’s world of strong individualism, this one-size-fits-all model proves to be counter-productive. This change in focus is the need of the day since, as the book points out, if you try to be good at everything, you’d never be great at anything.
Making a case for strength-based leadership, the book insists that leadership demands excellence. Hence, instead of spending your lifetime improving your weaknesses, if you own up your weaknesses and invest your time and energy in developing your strengths, you’d find it much easier to achieve excellence in your area of expertise. For the simple reason that it is much easier to develop your strengths and attain expertise in that area than improving upon your weaknesses. Therefore, in your leadership journey, you should have the courage to be imperfect and focus on your strengths to achieve excellence.
Emphasizing upon leadership as a group activity rather than individual charisma, the book further maintains that in the current VUCA world, characterized by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity, team work is the way forward for leaders. They need to create a synergy between their own unique strengths and those of their team-members. The book also tells us how to develop our authentic leadership and offers a few mantras for leadership success as well.
It must be really difficult and tiring to take out some time for writing. How do you manage writing along with your profession?
When something becomes your passion, it is never tiring and you tend to find time for the same. Apart from my speaking assignments and management consulting, writing is my full-time occupation. While each of these has its own demand on my time, the good part is that they complement one another. My writing too gets enriched by my speaking and consulting experience. Overall, I derive a lot of pleasure from writing.
Age of the Imperfect Leader is a book that demystifies the complexities of leadership success. The book indeed carries a unique plot. How did you arrive at the core of the idea?
As a management professional, I have been keenly observing the dichotomy between leadership theories, propounded by the academia and the actual leadership practices on the shop floor. I find it disturbing that our leadership development programs today end up promoting more mediocrity than excellence among leaders. My purpose behind writing this book was to highlight the yawning gap between the theory and the practice and bring about the much-needed correction in our flawed models of leadership development.
What is the next book that you have planned?
My next book, to be sent for publication, is a fiction, an edge-of-the-seat thriller, titled The Woman Unbroken. It is the story of a young and courageous artist, who is struggling with her own emotional insecurities. By sheer bad luck, she gets trapped in a fierce espionage battle between the Indian R&AW and the Pakistani ISI. Her life gets wrecked but she is not the one to give up. Stumbling through her journey, she not only helps the Indian agencies identify the ISI moles in India, she is also able to wreck her personal revenge on her predators. It is the story of courage and resilience, hope and survival.
Currently, I am writing another book on leadership. Once again, it will create some disruptions in our current thinking as I am going to challenge some of the old and well-entrenched myths about leadership and management.