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I am an honours graduate (BSc. Hons. Strath-Glasgow) coupled with an MBA-ICG (Paris) , experienced, Metallurgist - Materials Scientist and Engineer & Manager turned Consultant & Blogger. I specialised in Superalloys (aero-engine_Seminal Work peer reviewed & published IOM3_MST, Feb.1985, the 2nd issue of this now well known journal dedicated to the fundamental aspects in our multidisciplinary subject area ) My experience over a wide range of Special Alloys is extensive. (Cryogenic,Controlled Expansion-Dilatometric,Magnetic, Corrosion Resistant Grades and finally HSLA-Aircraft Undercarriage. (Great Stuff-I was lucky) My responibilities were especially in Melting & Refining to 1st Forming stage. Responsibilities include QC,QA & Accounting, Melt/Remelt Process  & Products, R&D.  Bilingual English-French. 
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Thursday, 13 November 2014

A “NOVEL,”HIGHLY IMAGINATIVE BUT SOUND APPROACH TO LEADERSHIP, By INDIAN AUTHOR, VIKAS SWARUP, in his 2nd book entitled: “THE ACCIDENTAL APPRENTICE”


 BOOK REVIEW:  “THE ACCIDENTAL APPRENTICE” By VIKAS SWARUP.

 (Note? V. SWARUP is also the author of SLUM DOG MILLIONAIRE, now also a renowned film of the same name.)

In his knowledgeable and suspense filled novel, Swarup invents the gripping story of a fabulously rich Company Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Vinay Mohan Acharya, in search of his successor. His search leads him to choose a most surprising candidate, named, Sapna Sinha, an ordinary sales girl in an electronics boutique in the centre of Delhi.

However there is a catch, a twist to the story of course:

Sapna must accept to undergo seven qualifying tests, tests to be taken from “life" situations.
So begins the most challenging journey of Sapna’s life and these situations Sapna must face are not difficult enough, the plot deepens. Are the tests real or is CEO, Acharya playing a deeper game, one driven by a perverse fantasy?

Swarap unravels each of his seven “life” stories as test situations in seven easy to follow chapters.

The resulting lessons learned are worthy Harvard Business Review (HBR) stuff. The teaching is at least as efficient as the more careful professorial approach by mainstream HBR, or J. of Leadership and Organisational Studies, contributors. It caught my attention enough to blog the novel and to return to HBR. 

Swarup, of course, has the advantage of the novelist’s poetic license in creating more daring and dangerous stories than true CEO's or perhaps not? And more work for biographers and novelists

In true HBR-Harvard Business Review tradition of shock awakening readers’ attention; the author contends that:

“Leadership is the one compentency cannot be learnt in Management School.”

Also Cf. Journal of Leadership and Organisation.

Rules & Attributes
         I.
LEADERSHIP is illustrated in the context, or against the background of great difficulties and dangerous situations.  In SARUP’s India, one such extreme situation is set in a background of honour killings and forced marriages. Here the heroine, as any other person in real life, can choose to turn their back on a problem and just walk away or, alternatively, take responsibility, take a responsible stance and choose to do the right things.
LESSON 1:

-1a. A manager learns how to do things right but, the Leader does what is right.

It is easy to imagine that these considerations come straight from the famous business review (HBR)

According to SWARUP, It’s all about:

-1b. Instinct & Conscience.  He, or in this case She, instinctively takes an ethical and moral stance. Many authors of work published in HBR would probably agree. cf inset

2. Integrity.
Integrity is illustrated, in Vikas Swarups novel, by the story whereby his heroine, “the apprentice leader” finds and returns an extremely valuable diamond ring to its rightful owner, inspite of her own great needs.
He points out in passing that in the words of his other central character, the Company President who is seeking his successor that: “From a high building” (an allergy to his very high position as Company President) you can see people’s heads, but you cannot see within them. He adds that; “people have become masters at hiding their true nature”.

3. Courage.
The CEO’s fear is FEAR of FAILURE.

   His greatest fear is that of “not taking        action”!
 Regret, his only regret is having not tried.


We must not let fear limit ourselves.

In his novel, Vikas Swaraps gives the reader vivid examples of the courage required of a leader.

4. The Fourth Test or the Blindness of Fame
Here his example takes the form of unmasking of a traitor. The story takes the form of a so called blind man who, as it turns out, is not totally blind…

5. Fifth test:  Atlas of Fame, Resourcefulness
The author uses “the fight against corruption”
Above all he or she must be a “Master Strategist”
He illustrates this topic through one of his character’s (Marmeh Ben), “hunger strike”. Which the “Accidental Apprentice” turns into a massive success.

6. Decisiveness in an extreme situations, here “great sacrifice” via the case of a kidney donation.

Summary


7a. THE FIRST GREAT SECRET!
 “The first secret to becoming a CEO is knowing that there are no secrets to success. 
It is always the result of hard work, concentration, careful planning and persistence."

-7b.Success is not a lottery but a system.



Knowing the World is cleverness.  Knowing yourself is Wisdom.

-Be yourself; listen to your heart,

-Do what you think is right
-Stand up for the principle you believe in
It comes from:
-a combination of “intuition” + “Values”
- making choices and learning from them.
It comes from: 
-the ability to handle failure and rejection.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT 
“As power increased so does control diminish. Nothing remains constant."

THIS ABOVE ALL: Enjoy reading V. SWARUP’s great new story “THE ACCIDENTAL APPRENTICE”, useful learning which will help put flesh your HBR and J of Leadership & Organisation reading. 

PS. It now remains to be put into practice. This is where our individual and collective (unfortuneately numerous) flaws and insufficiences appear. 

REFERENCE: 
 “THE ACCIDENTAL APPRENTICE” By VIKAS SWARUP.
Simon & Schuster © 2013 ISBN978-1-47111-317-8-318-5.

Further Reading: Free Issue of Sage Journal of Leadership & Organisational Studies

LINK: Special Issue_Emerging Research Trends in Leadership