The Leader Who Had No Title
By SH Lim
Author: Robin Sharma
Time Out rating: 3 stars
Simon and Schuster ; RM57.90
As in ‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’, Robin Sharma’s latest self-help book ‘The Leader Who Had No Title’ uses a story – some describe it as a parable – to teach about leadership, about taking responsibility. This time, the protégé, our stand-in and everyman, is Blake Davis, an Iraq War veteran. He now works in a bookstore, autopiloting his way through his day and his job.
For him employment is nothing more than an activity that fills the hours and pays the bills. Nothing to do with passion. Nothing to do with self-actualisation. Nothing to do with personal satisfaction. That is until he meets with his mentor Tommy Flinn who has decided that Blake is worth rescuing. Because, Blake, like you and me, is born into genius. Like you and me, the genius is sleep-walking though his life. Tommy takes his young friend on a life-altering journey and saves him from mediocrity.
Being a book that aims to help by pointing the way to leadership, excellence and personal success, it is written in an uncomplicated way. It is also about how to be happier, be at peace with yourself, be whole and integrated. For some the book may be pedantic and didactic, sharing much of the assumptions and how-to’s of others books of the same genre. Although with lots of unique acronyms, all used as mnemonic devices to drive the message home. And the message is reiterated through the mouths of Blake’s various guides. It is visited upon from various directions.
The story takes the shape of dialogues between Blake and these guides whom his mentor introduces. Interestingly, these four guides don’t hold high positions in their companies. They are not managing directors or CEOs but rather a housekeeper in a hotel, a skier, a janitor and a massage therapist. You get the drift. You don’t need to have a title after your name (or before your name, like Dato’) to be a leader.
We live in turbulent times, Blake guides point out. We live in tough times. We live in a time of crises. The conditions of our time call for everyone to be a leader regardless where we are. The plethora of such books and their popularity perhaps indicate that Sharma and his fictional guides are right about our anguished age.