Living Leadership

Emma De Vita reviews George Binney, Gerhard Wilke and Colin Williams's tips for managers

Now that the star of The Apprentice is a Labour peer and government business tsar, you'd be forgiven for thinking that to become a great leader you have to be like Sir Alan Sugar.

However, his hard-nosed style is not to everyone's liking, so it's reassuring to learn that there is a kinder face to leadership. Living Leadership: A Practical Guide for Ordinary Heroes, by George Binney, Gerhard Wilke and Colin Williams, will show you the way.

The business school boffins have uncovered the secrets of how ordinary people achieve impressive results. The major lessons from their research include a number of commonsense ideas.

First, "leading is a social process; it happens between people". It's about the interaction you have with your colleagues. Second, "the success or failure of leaders is dependent on the ability to work with the context". That means being realistic about what you can achieve with the people and budget that you have - so it's time to ditch any grandiose JR Ewing-style fantasies.

Finally, remember that "you don't have to be a superhero to be a leader". So don't stride into work with your red cape fluttering behind you and blue tights under your Y-fronts. You're no Superman - just an ordinary hero.

- Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today

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