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Book Review - "Know How"

Know How ... by Ram Charan

Ram Charan is an author and consultant who has advised some the largest companies in the world.

This book focuses on Charan's perspective on skills that differentiate successful leaders from those who under-perform. These skills Charan packages into eight "know-hows" that successful leaders need. He also suggests that often leaders are chosen because they have the appearance of leadership through their charisma, intelligence, communication skills and maybe even vision.

However the following eight "know hows" is what really sets the successful leader apart:

1. Positioning and Repositioning. Finding a central idea for business that meets customer demand and makes money (sounds simple, but try it)!
2. Pinpointing external change. Detecting patterns in a complex world to put the business on the offensive.
3. Leading the Social System. Getting the right people together with the right behaviours and the right information to make better, faster decisions and achieve business results.
4. Judging People. Calibrating people based on their actions, decisions and behaviours and matching them to the non-negotiables of the job.
5. Molding a Team. Getting highly competent, high ego leaders to coordinate seamlessly.
6. Setting Goals. Determining the set of goals that balances what the business can become with what it can realistically achieve.
7. Setting Laser-Sharp Priorities. Defining the path and aligning resources, actions and energy to accomplish the goals.
8. Dealing with Forces Beyond the Market. Anticipating and responding to societal pressures you don't control but that can affect your business.

Some of this is academic but the underlying concepts and stories are interesting. I think that we are always looking to understand what makes a great leader and what can leaders do to improve. Charan provides some interesting perspectives.

Worth a read ... one of the underlying messages is that business leadership in the 21st century is not for the faint of heart!