Be Your Own CEO


Pawan Verma’s refreshing book, Age of the Imperfect Leader: Leading from Strength, challenges the concept and foundation of the successful leader. It spurs readers to aim at a paradigm shift and emerge as effective and inspiring leaders. It also emphasises that leadership thrives in a clear environment of collaboration, not in a command and control mode. It sets the tone to describe the challenges and albatrosses that contemporary leadership has to deal with and excel at — to emerge triumphant.

One fascinating fact is Verma has clearly understood and is able to decipher, for the average reader, the impact a post-truth environment phenomenon and public perception, including the response to it, has on the success or failure of a leader. To drive home the context, Verma intersperses fascinating anecdotes, as also the circumstances and back stories — the killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe and the hullabaloo around the Maggie Noodle Crisis in India. His explanations are brief and succinct, yet they mirror their covert and overt ‘philosophies.’

Yet another interesting aspect of the book is it stands out among others in the genre, more so because it focuses primarily on anecdotes rather than being a statistical rigmarole. To make it a seamless reading experience, the anecdotes, thanks to the author’s remarkable alacrity and brevity of expression, are simply quoted, while discussing a topic, with the story being explained promptly on the adjacent page. This helps to satiate the reader’s inquisitiveness in a jiffy. It also helps them to ponder over the just concluded topic that, at times, may have been prudently left open to inference.

I would like to borrow a nugget from the blurb to proffer the influence the book has had on me. I will also be eager and courageous enough to be imperfect. Also, while I’d certainly imbibe the essence of the book to becoming a better leader, I’d  undoubtedly be yearning too with diligent intent to knowing how contemporary events impact our lives — even when one is not remotely connected to them.

Verma’s work, when placed in précis, asks us a pivotal question: “Would you like to be first-rate at everything at the expense of being great at something?” In answering such a fundamental question, Verma prescribes that leadership ought to be keyed to excellence, not just perfection. The tangible remedy, not placebo, is — instead of being obsessed with ‘match-fixing’ your faults, or weaknesses, and racing towards achieving intangible qualities to making you flawless, you ought to own, address, and remedy, your flaws and be focused on your strong points, while realising your leadership standing and goals.

The best part is: Verma profiles ‘select’ inspiring and transforming leaders to validate and replicate point. In the process, he establishes how such leaders achieved leadership greatness by jazzing-up their strengths, so that their faults were beside the point. This is not all. Verma’s perceptive analyses provides ground-breaking insights as to how to capitalise on one’s strengths and embrace a strong people-centric policy that propels everyone in the team, or boardroom, to focus on their strengths and reciprocally recompense for each other’s limitations, or shortcomings.

The bottom line: Verma’s perceptive repertoire advocates a judiciously analytical eco-milieu for leadership success. It also, in so doing, urges contemporary leaders to be not just zealous, but also passionate dreamers, collaborators and co-authors, aside from being sprightly wizards, or campaigners, for diversity and visionaries of the future.

Age of the Imperfect Leader: Leading from Strength
Pawan Verma
Rupa Publications
pp: 264
Price: ₹295.00