Leadership Book By Awdhesh Singh

The Secret Red Book of Leadership

By Awdhesh Singh​

The hidden truths of leadership–bitter or sweet–revealed like never before! Great leaders are like icebergs. They conceal more than they reveal. Indeed, mystery and the art of retaining it, is integral to leadership. Leadership, then, is more an art than a science. It is not a reality that you can touch, feel and measure, but an illusion that is created by many tricks, which you should be able to learn and practise in a way that others are not able to grasp.

This book on leadership, written by Awdhesh Singh, a retired officer of government, is an eye-opener for anybody who aspires to be a leader, at whatever level—nation, community or a small social group and in whatever sphere—business, politics or administration. Bon voyage!

Reviews From Amazon

Best one I have ever read about leadership

The one thing I liked about this book is that this book is “brutally honest” about leadership. This book also contains short stories so that the reader can be engaged and entertained.


A Secret for Success

It is not a guide book to transform you overnight to a leader. The change must come within –and this book is a very good catalyst!

Jayasree Roy

A book on leadership that aligns with the reality

The best thing about this book it has never idolized leadership. Leaders also have vices and bad qualities, but it is more of how they use such qualities. Must read book if you have an ideal way of viewing leaders. It will help to realize and grow yourself better!!


Read and know the secret of leadership

It was really wonderful to read this one. Clarified many of doubts in my career. Thanks to Awdhesh Singh for clean and crystal clear view.


Different from other books on Leadership

This books takes a look at the grey areas of leadership and aspects which are generally not discussed or dissected openly in other books on leadership. The author’s ability to weave jokes into the narrative is praiseworthy as it makes the book easy to read.

Jose Gauravselvam Kagoo

Subscribe Now to Get Regular Updates

About the latest book releases, upcoming events, videos and articles.
Chapter 3: The Myths of Leadership

“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” – Peter Drucker

There is no dearth of books on leadership. There are thousands of management gurus who claim they can to transform anyone into a leader. Warren Bennis, an American scholar, organisational consultant and author, widely regarded as a pioneer in the field of leadership studies says, ‘The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born—that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.’

The business of making anyone a leader is a great and profitable one. There are so many quick-fix solutions available off-the-shelf from known experts in this field. Many get swayed by the charisma of the motivational speakers who promise to turn every man into a leader. But most end up disappointed as these quick-fixes fail to produce the desired result. Take the case of this CEO who claimed to have a ready solution for running any organization 

A person had just been hired as the new head of a global corporation. The outgoing CEO met him privately and presented him three numbered envelopes. 

He said, ‘Open these when you run up against a problem you don’t think you can solve.’

Initially, all went well. But few months later, the company’s performance went on a downslide and the new CEO did not know what to do. So he opened the first envelope and read the message: ‘Blame your predecessor.’

He quickly called a press conference and held his predecessor responsible for all the ills in the company. His excuse was accepted and soon the company stock was on the rise again. With the company  back on track, people developed confidence in the new CEO. However, as time passed, the company hit rough weather again. It faced serious production issues and the sales started declining.  

So he opened the second envelope, which had the message: ‘Reorganize.’

He thus began to reorganize, transferring executives from one place to another, effecting more changes till the company came out of the red and began posting profits again. After a few years, the company fell on difficult times yet again. It was time for the CEO to open the third envelope. 

The message was: ‘Prepare three envelopes.’

Such quick-fix formulae and leadership lessons abound, but they do not amount to much. These formulaes are nothing, but myths, which contains only half-truths. The entire story is never told. However, the unsaid bit comes to forefront the moment one starts practising these leadership mantras in real life. So it is better to get a complete picture in advance rather than learning it the hard way.

Leadership Myth 1: Leaders should be good listeners

‘Of all the skills of leadership, listening is the most valuable, and one of the least understood’, said Peter Nulty, who wrote for Fortune magazine  for more than 20 years and worked as  communications specialist at McKinsey & Co.. ‘Most captains of industry listen only sometimes, and they remain ordinary leaders. But a few, the great ones, never stop listening. That’s how they get word before anyone else of unseen problems and opportunities.’

There is no doubt that listening is an important leadership skill. Yet, we must know when to listen, whom to listen to, and how much. It is a myth that listening is always good or that every great leader is a listener. When we listen to someone’s problems, the problems tend to become ours too. Perhaps, even psychiatrists should be careful and guard against too much listening!

Two psychiatrists are having a conversation. One is much older than the other, but looks to be in great shape. In contrast, his colleague appears extremely exhausted.

‘I don’t understand,’ remarks the younger psychiatrist, ‘how you can listen to all those half-crazy patients all day long and not be affected by it.’

‘And who listens to them?’ replies the older psychiatrist, as he takes out his energy spheres.

A person who confides in you his thoughts usually expects that you will fix his problem, or at least help him solve it. If after hearing his problem, you do nothing, he is likely to get even more frustrated and angry as he has gained nothing even after baring his private self before you. He may also worry that you may misuse your privileged position to exploit him.

A group of psychiatrists were attending a convention. Four of them decided to leave, and walked out together.

One said to the other three, ‘People are always coming to us with their guilt and fears, but we have no one that we can go to when we have problems.’

The others agreed.

Then one said, ‘Since we are all professionals, why don’t we take some time right now to hear each other out?’

The other three agreed.

The first then confessed, ‘I have an uncontrollable desire to kill my patients.’

The second psychiatrist said, ‘I love expensive things, and so I look for ways to cheat my patients out of their money, in order to buy all the things I want.’

The third followed with, ‘I’m involved in drug dealing, and often get my patients to sell them for me.’

The fourth psychiatrist then confessed, ‘I know I’m not supposed to, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t keep a secret…’

If leaders do nothing after listening to people’s problems, they lose the respect of their followers. This is because, as the leader, they failed to deliver on expectations that rose when the follower got a sympathetic hearing. 

If the leader actually helps in problem-solving, his follower is happy. But then others also start speaking their mind and hope to get his help too in tiding over their problems. The leader might thus get tied up in solving miscellaneous issues of his people rather than achieving the goals of his organization. His performance is likely to suffer then, which in turn erodes the support of his followers. Bill Cosby, an American actor, author, television producer, musician and activist has wisely said, ‘I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.’ Listening to everybody in an effort to please them often leads to failure of leaders. Those whose problems do not get solved, develop a negative attitude towards their leader as they wonder why they were ignored. So you must know whom to listen to, when to listen, and how much to listen.

Leadership Myth 2: Leaders should be compassionate

Love and compassion are considered to be the greatest virtue of leaders. You are advised to be always kind and compassionate towards your team. You should appreciate their work and not condemn them for their failures. Henry Ward Beecher, a clergyman and social reformer said, ‘Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation.’ Yet, it is also a fact that there are many who exploit this compassion.

It was pouring and there formed a big puddle in front of the pub. A ragged old man stood there with a rod, hanging a string into the puddle. 

A curious gentleman walked over to him and asked what he was doing. 

‘Fishing,’ the old man said simply. 

‘Poor old fool,’ the gentleman thought, and invited the ragged old man to a dinner in five-star hotel. 

While they ate their lavish dinner, just to strike up a conversation, the gentleman asked, ‘And how many have you caught?’ 

‘You’re the tenth,’ the old man answered.

So, for leaders, compassion can sometimes be a weakness rather than strength. When you are compassionate, you may find that the productivity of your team goes down. That’s because people don’t tend to take you seriously, knowing that they shall not be punished or admonished even when they don’t put in the required effort. Your compassion is taken for granted and people simply keep expecting more. Dissatisfied with what they have gained, they are prone to keep cribbing about what they missed. 

Also, you cannot be compassionate to everyone and fulfill all their expectations. For example, when you promote someone or award them for their good work, the rest feel hurt and discriminated against. They are likely to label you unjust and biased. You may get condemned even when your decisions were fair and selfless.

 A saint or monk can afford to be compassionate to all, but a leader or boss cannot always be kind. He may soon be without a job himself if he is unduly compassionate, and chances are, no one would show him any compassion then. 

Leadership Myth 3: Leaders must have high integrity

There is no leadership book that does not mention integrity as the greatest virtue of a leader.  Maria Razumich-Zec, the regional Vice President, USA, East Coast said, ‘Your reputation and integrity are everything. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do. Your credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of your words and actions.’

Who can even suggest that integrity should not be the greatest virtue of the leader? We hear that leaders walk their talk, they speak the truth and always fulfill their promises. At least, all leaders claim so. Who in business or politics, can truly be called honest? It is another matter that some people may be too clever and manage to avoid the law. But their reputations are well known.

A man wanted to know which career he should choose for his son. So he put a Bible, a dollar and a bottle of whisky on the table, and slipped behind a curtain. He thought that if the son picked up the Bible, he would be fit to become a priest; if he chose the dollar, he would make a good businessman; and if he opted for the bottle of whiskey, he might become a criminal. 

The youth entered the room and saw the things. He thought for a while. Then he tucked the Bible under his arm, slipped the dollar into his pocket and took in a generous dose of whisky.

‘Oh my God!’ exclaimed the man, ‘It looks like he is perfect to be a politician.’

Mark Twain was right when he said, ‘Honesty is the best policy, when there is money in it.’ Integrity and honesty can be a virtue only in an ideal situation and when others are honest too. What if you are writing in an exam, and it is for a job, which you desperately need. The instructors are lenient and let everyone copy from books and each other. In this situation, if you stick to your principles, you may not stand any chance of success, even if you are extraordinarily intelligent.

While leaders can choose to be relatively honest, but there is no way, they can be absolutely honest, when others are dishonest. Leaders who refuse to compromise on their honesty at all, may feel satisfied about following their principle, but are unlikely to succeed much. 

They can be honest with their core team, but can they afford to be honest with their rivals and enemies?

Leadership Myth 4: Leaders persevere

Hard work and perseverance are said to be the touchstone of successful leaders. People are advised to keep on trying till they succeed. Who has not heard of the great inventor, Thomas Edison, who failed 10,000 times before he discovered the light bulb? Even in his failure, he saw a lining of success, for he said, ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’ But unless you are blessed with Edison’s  creativity and the heart to suffer as many failures, you may get demoralised by such repeat failures. 

In reality, it is difficult to digest even a single defeat, while our morale is boosted with each success. Only when there is a mix of success and failure, we can take defeat lightly. A success is like a credit in the ‘confidence account’ while each failure is a debit in this account. Greater is the success, more is the deposit. Similarly, greater is the failure, more is the debit.  Only if you have deposited enough successes in your account, can you withstand a string of failures. Else you may become bankrupt, depressed and emotionally broken.

Secondly, we must also ask ourselves, why work so hard? The great leaders are not the ones who work very hard, but they are the ones who are smart and efficient. Bill Gates said, ‘I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.’

In reality, most people succeed not because of their perseverance, but because of innovation, and the fact that they enjoy their job. If Edison learned 10000 different methods to make an electric bulb, it was because he loved his job. He was learning something new with every experiment. Innovation can occur to us only when we have time to relax and ponder over the problem. 

Conclusion: Avoid Quick-fixes

It has been explained through examples that there are no quick-fix mantras for leadership. There are no universal principles that work in all situations, with all people, and all the time. Rather, principles that work must be used at the right place, in the right situation, and at the right time. And no principle has a permanent place in life. Just like you need to sleep after a hard day’s, work, you also need to get back to work after having a good night’s sleep. The two are complementary: Sleep rejuvenates you for work, whereas working hard ensures good sleep. 

 If some principles of leadership appeal to us, or have become more saleable, it is because more people are using the opposite principle, which is perhaps instinctive, natural and thus need not be learned. Acting on instinct often produces quick results, but if we do not temper instinct with reason, there is imbalance in our life.

We need to balance the opposite principles, not adopt one as superior to the other. If integrity is considered a virtue, it may be because most people lack integrity. Also, as only a few succeed in their pursuits, some may link failure with a lack of integrity. But this is not fully true. When you reason it out, you might conclude that honest people are more likely to fail and the dishonest rise faster. Other management myths like good listening, being compassionate and perseverance too get busted the same way. 

A great leader is one who uses the opposite principles with dexterity as his in-depth  knowledge makes him aware of the fundamental principles that govern people and relationships.

The leadership qualities discussed here or taught by management gurus are not without purpose, as these qualities are counter-intuitive. These are like the ‘thumb rules’ providing broad guidelines on particular subjects.  Typically, rules of thumb develop as a result of practice and experience rather than scientific research or theory.

Thumb rules provide general principles without giving reasons or the fundamental principles from which these rules have been derived. For example, in order to maintain good health, people are advised to avoid high-calorie, high-fat diet and do regular exercises.  This rule seems to be true for most of us who tend to be overweight and not very physically active. Yet, this is not a universal formula and cannot be applied to manual workers like labourers, or underweight people for whom just the opposite may be true. Labourers need not exercise, and also we must know that no diet can be ideal for everyone. Similarly, there is no thumb rule that can be used universally by all leaders in all situations. Leaders need to understand the fundamental principles behind these thumb rules in order to use them well, and let their intuition guide them on the right approach, each time.

Buy Book On :



Powered by