"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Thursday, November 5, 2009


"Leaders articulate their goals and incarnate the behaviour through symbolic conduct to get people to follow. When Cicero spoke, people marveled; when Caesar spoke, people marched. Getting people to march behind your ideas takes courage."

Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, USC

"Ultimately, what separates a winner from a loser at the grandmaster level is the willingness to do the unthinkable. A brilliant strategy is, certainly, a matter of intelligence, but intelligence without audaciousness is not enough."

Garry Kasparov, World Chess Champion since 1985

Leadership and the Apes

Chimpanzees are our closest relatives in the animal kingdom; 98.6% of our genes are identical to that of chimpanzees.

Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson, in 'Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence' present empirical evidence that only humans and chimpanzees share a similar tendency for violence, territoriality, and competition, and for uniting behind the one chief male of the land.

By comparison, bonobos, our second-closest species-relative, do not unite behind the chief male of the land. The bonobos show deference to an alpha or top-ranking female that, with the support of her coalition of other females, is as strong as the strongest male in the land.

If leadership amounts to acquiring the greatest number of followers, then among the bonobos, a female almost always exerts the strongest and most effective leadership.

Some have argued that, since the bonobo pattern inverts the dominant pattern among chimpanzees and men with regard to whether a female can get more followers than a male, humans and chimpanzees both likely inherited gender-bias against women from the ancestors of the chimpanzees; gender-bias features as a genetic condition of men.

And the bias against women having leadership as a position of authority crosses all world cultures.But bias or no bias, women leaders are coming into their own, and there’s no turning back the clock.

A Leadership Metaphor

An effective leader resembles an orchestra conductor in some ways. He or she has to get a group of diverse, talented people — many of whom have strong personalities — to work in harmony.

Can the conductor harness and blend all the gifts the players possess? Will the players accept the range of creative expression on offer? Will the audience enjoy their sound?

The conductor should have a determining influence on all these elements.

Jesse Jackson commented that “leaders do not choose sides but rather bring sides together.”

In the field of interaction, leadership is largely about the dynamic relationship between leaders and followers.

Warren Blank describes this phenomenon as “an undivided wholeness that resembles a dance... the interacting ebb and flow between leader and follower.”

[Excerpted from the 'Lifescaping' seminar participant's manul. The 'Lifescaping' seminar is conducted by Dilip Mukerjea about four times a year under the auspices of the Singapore Institute of Management.]

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