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Pranab Datta: Read, To Lead Right

Knight Frank India MD, Pranab Datta, advises to prefer books that have examples validated by experience

Published: Jan 6, 2011 06:02:44 AM IST
Updated: Jan 4, 2011 03:05:29 PM IST
Pranab Datta: Read, To Lead Right
Image: Alok Brahmbhatt
Pranab Datta, Vice chairman and managing director, Knight Frank India

I do not like books that are passing fads. I prefer books that have examples validated by experience; they should not be hypothetical or theoretical.

The New Managerial Grid by Robert R. Blake and Jane S. Mouton is a book that most people find mundane, but it has had a profound impact on my leadership style. I got the book at a training session in Marico 20 years ago.

Any HR organisation will swear by the importance of leadership behaviour in influencing an organisation.

There are two types of leaders: Task leaders, who lead at the cost of people, and people-centric leaders, who don’t treat people as means to an end.

People had told me that my leadership style was very task-oriented and that I don’t give much importance to people. I knew I was like that, but this book made me realise I had ignored people’s perception of me.

If I am a good listener, it would, perhaps, make me a better manager. I go back to the book even now.

We, at Knight Frank, have made this book a part of organisation training, where senior managers have to go through it to promote openness. We have also drawn on the philosophy of relationship reviews from this book.

Another book — it’s a quick read and I finished it on a flight — that had a major impact on me was Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. It shows how you get caught unaware by sudden changes in life.

For an operation manager, it teaches how to paint a what-if scenario and to have a contingency plan ready.

(As told to Nilofer D’Souza)

(This story appears in the 14 January, 2011 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)