Leadership@Infosys Edited by Matt Barney
This is an unusual book review for me. I have worked at Infosys for many years and with many of the people mentioned in the book, so this review is bound to have some bias. My expectations from Infy are higher than they are from other organizations and I have a first hand feel of mantras mentioned in the book. So read this review with this caveat.
The editor of the book has divided leadership into 7 types and has devoted a chapter each to them. Based on the leadership series, a process that has not been explained, editor has picked up 3-5 leaders for each leadership type. The attempt in each chapter is to explain the type of leadership based on the research literature, mostly popular, followed by Infosys take on it. Infosys’ take is then substantiated by the interview like format of leaders who excelled in that type of leadership. Consultants from Infosys leadership institute have authored most chapters so they tend to be more theoretical than practical. As each chapter has been written by a different person, the language and the style changes with the author though they are following a template to write the chapters. The leaders’ brief biographies have been provided at the end of the book along with the author biographies, but you tend to get lost in names. The biographies are mentioned randomly, they neither follow an alphabetic order nor the order in which they appear in the book. If there was an order I could not decipher it
First chapter is all that you know about Infosys and all that has been beaten to death by media like Mrs Murthy giving her Jewellery to fund the initial seed capital. Though you may not mind reading this over and over again, but it would have been better if the chapter introduced the basic structure of Infosys over the various transitions as they get mentioned many times throughout the book. There are many scenarios mentioned to demonstrate the leadership qualities of the leaders mentioned, those scenarios could have been explained before quoting them in the examples. Chapter on change leadership is well written. Though in order to follow the template, towards the end it also looses the tempo.
Though Infosys has a very well established diversity program for many years now, but no women leaders or non-Indian leaders are featured in this book. I think this book has been written to project the future leaders of the company, who would probably be at the helm of affairs as the founding team moves on slowly.
My opinion on the book: I think it does not do justice to the subject and the organization. Infosys as a company has leadership in the areas of corporate governance, brand building and in a way setting up a whole new way of working. None of these have been touched upon. The leaders do not come out tall. I have worked with some of the leaders mentioned in the book and I think they are far bigger and better leaders and the book just provides a small slice of them. Almost every leader mentioned in the book says he learnt everything from the founders of Infosys, then why not talk about their leadership so that those who do not work for Infosys can also learn. The theoretical insights by authors are good with a good grounding in research, but the substantiation through leaders and their traits is very weak. The writing style is very boring, you tend to fall asleep after every chapter, very academic and monotonous. Some storytelling would have made it more interesting to read but then this is my crib for quite a few business books.
Having said that the book should be a bestseller for two reasons: One Infosys is a huge brand and this is the first book that talks about Infosys. Second, they have a huge internal market. Each of their employees would want to read about their bosses.
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