Sajed Bhandari

America, Books, Cooking, Muslims and some other things

Fareed Zakaria on Leadership

Fareed Zakaria on Leadership

Sajed Bhandari

I watch too much MSNBC for my own good.  This Sunday however, I had a chance to watch Fareed Zakaria’s special, “How to Lead” on CNN.  Yeah the name is kind of ostentatious but the hour long show was amazing.  I have read two of Zakaria’s books and am in the process of finishing his first book, From Wealth to Power along with watching his show and reading his articles as much as I can.  I was on the fence about him for a while, but his support of religious freedom and property rights in the middle of the Fox News-generated chaos that was the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy this summer solidified my affinity towards Fareed Zakaria.  The man is a genius.  A naturalized citizen of Indian origin, Fareed Zakaria studied at both Yale and Harvard, completing his PhD in politics and international relations underneath Samuel Huntington (of “Clash of Civilizations” fame).  His work, The Future of Freedom, does a good job of “refudiating” (<- Yay Palin) his professor’s clash of civilizations claim.  I probably should write a review of that book too.  In any case, what follows is a brief summary of the program.

The show consisted primarily of interviews of leaders and their experiences leading in government, commerce, academia and war along with their various definitions of leadership.  The two leaders in governance and politics interviewed by Zakaria were Prime Minister Tony Blair and former New Jersey Governor and Bush Cabinet member, Christine WhitmanLou Gerstner, formerly the head of IBM, discussed crisis management and how his leadership style brought IBM from an 8 billion dollar loss to an 8 billion dollar profit at the end of his tenure with IBM.  Richard Levin discussed leadership as the president of Yale, particularly his difficult task of managing academics (a class of people who went into the profession so they would not be managed) and the obstacles created by leading a body of faculty and students who cannot be fired.  Finally, Admiral Mullen discussed leading men into war and the difficulties associated with asking an individual to risk his or her life in the defense of liberty and the republic.

At the end, the guests offered their take home messages and thoughts on leadership.  If one wants to create change, then he or she must figure out the essence of an individual—what drives him, what motivates him, understand what makes him tick, what do they value and what makes them come to work every day.  In addition, one of the guests urged to have a strong vision, communicate it clearly, set goals people can imagine reaching and go forward step by step.  What is essential is to pick a great team and empower them to do their job.  A leader can empower his team by knowing his or her subordinates.  This is particularly important because a leader needs to realize that he or she will not always have the answer, but it is equally important not to worry about this—figure out the gaps in your knowledge and find people who advise you on those matters.  A leader’s integrity should always be intact and this can only be achieved by holding one’s self accountable.

Overall it was a great show.  If you come across it online or CNN definitely watch it.


Written by sajedbhandari

December 29, 2010 at 10:00 pm

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