The Secret Red Book of Leadership

Awdhesh Singh Also available in audiobook: Download our app for free listening.

Leadership, as tricky as it is, requires a full-scale alteration in perception to the degree that we have to abandon all the useless trivia imposed on us.

Evidently, it’s in our blood to try and copy these prominent figures to whom we express glimpses of adoration. Behind closed doors, it’s a whole different ball game. In other words, you’ll never know what’s hiding underneath the carpet unless you take a sneak peek.

The leaders we idolize and praise are like an unsolved puzzle. There’s so much secrecy in their decision-making to the extent that we can’t even tell whether they are mysterious or just on the ball.

“The Secret Red Book of Leadership” brings a handful of delusions and misconceptions to light that are one-way or the other linked to leadership. Awdhesh puts the learning process in the fast lane, and endeavors to help the community by disclosing the undistorted truth of thriving as a leader.

Thanks to the media, and other factors, we’ve been misinformed about the traits that a genuine decision-maker with a follower-base should possess. Portraying leaders as gentle, kind, and ethical heroes is an assertation contrary to facts and reliable information.

The bottom line is – leadership it’s not rocket science, and we don’t need any fancy lingo to learn the ropes of it. If you get the impression that you’ve been manipulated all these years, well, we are sorry to inform you, but that’s how it is.

Without further ado, let’s drill down to the core of what Awdhesh is trying to convey.

Part I: The Need for Leadership

The inner urge that prompts us to take action now leads us to the following question:

Can I become a leader?

This question gets you to the next one. What preparations do I need to make before embarking on such a cliff-hanging journey? Enrolling in fancy business schools and reading best-selling books don't guarantee you an easy path to becoming an outstanding leader.

According to the author, actions speak louder than words, and your performance on the pitch will undoubtedly overshadow any diploma. The sad part is – there are no absolute criteria on which you can evaluate your potential to become a person of high stature.

Whether we like it or not, this instantly transforms leadership into a game without an end. If this theory gives rise to any doubts, let’s do a quick recap of the lives of the best leaders the world has ever seen:

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were college dropouts, and yet again they managed to change the world with their inventiveness. Thomas Edison attended school for less than a year and mainly opposed the formal system of education. He allocated most of his time on informal techniques that lead him to become one of the world’s most celebrated inventors.

Don’t get this the wrong way, Awdhesh doesn’t advise you to emulate the stories of people who have reached the sky. Your job would be to lay the groundworks for developing into a leader by staying informed and abreast of all the changes in the leadership landscape.

For the ignorant, leadership takes the size and shape of any numbers game. Indeed, it’s not about how many followers you have on your list, nor what strategy you use to persuade them in joining your cause. The real adventure starts from within because a real leader doesn’t dread the idea of standing alone.

Now, you realize why so many experts are inclined to agree that leadership is an art, not a mathematical operation. Peter Drucker – acclaimed as the Father of Management, lifted the veil on the secrets of getting things done by declaring: “It is not whether the answer is right. It is whether it works.”

True leaders blaze a trail for others to follow, and they dare to exploit out-of-box methods, because, at the end of the day, they are judged based on their accomplishments.

In order to get the big picture, we must disclose the myths about leadership and pay heed to the leadership-follower dualism.

If you search the whole wide world, there’s hardly any chance that you’ll find a person who is inclined to follow everyone and someone who has no interest in identifying role models. The dualism is expressed metaphorically because it shows that even leaders can follow their followers if that’s necessary at the moment.

There are no rules, at all!

If you prefer to take the high road when mastering the elements of leadership, then tackling all the inaccurate concepts should be your number one priority.

The author outlines 4 myths that are painting a false image regarding leadership as a process:

Leaders Should Be Good Listeners

- No one can phase out “listening” of the process that incorporates all the elements of prosperous leadership. However, it’s crucial to understand that prominent personalities choose where, when and why to listen to someone.

Leaders Should Be Compassionate

As much as we all love to live in a fairytale story; for leaders being compassionate can sometimes be disastrous. Occasionally, the team needs to get back on track, and a harsh pep talk is a way to do it! In other words, to crank up the efforts of all parties in the process, you need to stimulate anger.

Leaders Must Have High Integrity

In a dishonest world, being brutally honest is a virtue known only to leaders, right? Wrong! People relying too much on ethical principles are more likely to fail than those individuals that are comfortable with finding a middle ground in everything, including honesty.

Leaders persevere

We are overwhelmed with stories about people who beat the odds and miraculously managed to remain calm under a lot of pressure. According to Awdhesh, small victories can compensate for temporary failures, and that’s all it takes to keep the ball rolling.

In addition, the number of people who managed to bear the burden of endless defeats and still came out as winners can be counted on one’s fingers. There’s nothing wrong in changing the direction when things go South.

The key is to transform ordinary mindsets into magnetic and dynamic individuals who use their charisma to attract or repel certain characters.

Part II: Dilemma of Leaders

Many leaders are troubled by a series of questions such as – Do the ends justify the means? Is it indispensable to neglect everything in order to reach the desired destination?

The author alludes to one highly unusual but entirely realistic crossroad that all of us face. Life often compels to choose between “unfair means – good end” and “ethical approach – evil end.” As much as you want to avoid being involved in a situation that entails serious risk, making a final decision is unavoidable.

It’s not easy to outmaneuver your opponents if you're sticking to your “noble” approach, while they are using every tool at their disposal.

Harry Emerson Fosdick once said: “He who chooses the beginning of a road, chooses the place it leads to.”

For instance, many renowned figures throughout history broke the law, or even hurt someone for the greater good. These evil deeds were actually perpetrated for a certain social reward, and because there was a lot at stake.

The author places emphasis on the sensations and feelings that are omnipresent in our lives and how we can make use of them. The constant chatter of thoughts can either help you or harm you, it all depends on your overall behavior.

As it turns out, if at some point in the future, you grow fond of a person who is prone to violence, hatred, and anger, you’ll quickly fall into the same pitfall and embraces its habits. It will be nearly impossible to switch back to your default settings, which in this case represent your nobility.

This leads us to the next question: Are there really any ends?

From a realistic point of view, there are no ends in the world of decision-makers. One action is only a sequel to the previous one, the end of a journey signifies the beginning of a new one. To deal with such uncertainty, you have to summon up your courage to overcome every obstacle down the road.

A smart person doesn’t spend more time than it has to on finding the perfect path. It merely chooses the one which is both time-saving and acceptable.

Do you know that every cloud has a silver lining? For precisely the same reason it’s incredibly challenging to differentiate between good and evil and define which traits are inherited and which are a product of our own creation. Evil is simply induced by external elements, and in certain moments, it tries to take over your life. The only natural antidote against this form of mindset is having an affection for finding a peaceful solution to every issue.

To release yourself from this bondage, you must become free of both concepts. In essence, this is a method that saints fully embrace, and strive for reaching after excessive meditation. As far as being a leader is concerned, protecting the interests of its followers must be done in an equal proficient manner. Sometimes, even at the cost of their own agendas.

Can we find a balance between compassion and antipathy?

British leader in WW2 Winston Churchill said: “An effective leader is bound to create enemies.”

It all boils down to this: as much as we love to extoll the virtues of great leaders, once we become vulnerable that adoration can easily convert into intense dislike. Don’t be surprised to hear that hatred is a deadly weapon, and it can easily overpower love. On top of that, the media puts a lot of pressure on the leaders, because an ordinary person is allowed to make mistakes, but not a leader.

The bottom line is – to get to the bottom of effective leadership you need to embrace both hatred and love. To put it differently, your ability to show compassion must be added to your unshakable character.

Handling the dualism from within leads us to life-altering realization. Millions of years of evolution have led us to this point where we can actually perceive both our animal and spiritual nature. We cannot simply use a magic wand and remove the primitive beastly urges.

From what we acquired so far, the author clearly brings forward the notion which indicates that leaders are merely a reflection of their follower-base. In order to balance the higher-and-lower cravings, they must focus predominantly on what the followers expect of them. For instance, if you grew tired of dealing with the lower self, perhaps you must concentrate on your evolvement to attract only the right people.

The very existence of Yin-Yang philosophy serves as a powerful reminder. It points out us that understanding contrary forces which are in tight correlation with each other is vital for propelling forward. When it comes to leadership, combining masculine and feminine energy can help you elevate your leadership skills.

The sum and substance is – blending the angry masculine aspects into an influential, gentle, and attractive style, can turn you into an all-around leader.

Part III: The Necessary Evils of Leaders

From a fair vantage point, it’s safe to say that desire can give rise to any form of suffering. On the other end, without an inner pull to sacrifice the little things for a higher reward, society will reach a stagnation point.

Over the years, we lose that childish innocence and imagination, and decide to abide by socially-accepted and imposed principles. As much as we hate to admit it, wealth is seen as a way out of that wheel of illusion. You can literally buy happiness and fulfill your spiritual needs.

Let’s get back to the drawing board, and see what a genuine leadership looks like:

A leader is willing to take sides with anyone, as long as the focus is primarily placed on the pivotal desire. To reach the final goal, they are ready in body and mind to sacrifice momentary pleasures and work under severe pressure.

What can be done without power?

Regardless of your overall perspective regarding leadership, it’s evident that without power a leader cannot perform. We glorify leaders with unlimited power because we dread the idea of them directing that deadly force at us.

Don’t throw caution to the wind, because someone seeking absolute power can use that momentum against you. As Machiavelli on one occasion said: ‘Men ought either be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they can’t.”

Wise people seeking peace, step aside from this unequal battle and adopt a desire-free attitude. To safeguard their interest, most people prefer to keep their distance and reject the path of face-to-face collision with their enemies.

Nonetheless, not a single state nor organization would survive to see another day, with a carefree attitude. Fear is a potent symbol that keeps people on full alert, and ready to face the fire. Using compassion as the only way of addressing your followers, may endanger your status and present you as weak and cowardly.

There’s not enough room for two kings to fit into one country; the same logic is applied to every organizational hierarchy. If someone plans to take over your position, you have to team up with loyal admirers and opposes the conspirators. Use the momentum to settle accounts with the team members who perceive you as unworthy of absorbing the role of a leader.

Divide and rule is an ancient but ironclad strategy for gaining power and influence over others. Even in the digital age, society continues to nurture divisions of every kind. It’s delusional to even think of rallying up a perfectly fitting group. The contrast exists everywhere, and your efforts to erase it will be meaningless.

To survive in such a dynamic era, one must take sides with like-minded associates, who share your values. Use that intense collective energy to deal with your adversaries who don’t recognize your rule.

Once you begin to go after your enemies one-by-one, with each passing victory, you’ll grow stronger. Uniting people against a common threat is a practical approach that yields excellent results.

The author doesn’t imply that an ambitious leader strives to divide the organization to weaken it nor to impose its will. It should use this force to phase out all the elements which are obstructing the collective enhancement.

Rest assured that a leader with noble intentions will make use of the contrast, and serve its community of followers. In order to do that, it must exploit deception as an instrument to outsmart its opponents. The only trick is to create a false impression by putting up a façade of integrity and honor.

If a leader doesn’t possess the skills to nurture the image of a flawless and ethical person, it will quickly face downfall in terms of leadership.

Part IV: The Façade of a Leader

Awdhesh cast doubt on all the information we’ve gathered so far about leadership. Wise leaders apt to change their appearance and approach on the outside, to go along with the image enforced by society.

To put it in another way, these figures yearn to maintain an attractive character by using their magnetism and charisma. They are compelled to do all these things to portray themselves as undisputable leaders.

To fit into this façade, a leader should:

Take good care of its physical appearance
Pay exclusive attention to the dress code
Play the positive body language card
Express interest in pleasing and communicating with others
Cultivate a sense of humor
Gain Self-Respect

In addition, it’s vital to mention that a good leader is not only obliged to act, but to develop into a proficient actor, as well. To avoid becoming the next victim, these performers must embrace a versatile personality, which allows them to adjust to the situation.

As it turns out, an outstanding actor is in tune with its emotions. For the spectators, that is a welcome sight, which facilitates the process of creating a special bond. Based on their performance, the actors can either take the shape of emotionally healthy, or unstable and convey that dynamism to the audience.

To gain the favor of the crowd, you must overshadow your competition in every regard.

The propaganda war is critical for increasing your influence and placing a stronghold on the information shared by your potential adversaries. It’s labeled as one of the most potent tools in politics, and most definitely has its place in the sphere of leadership. In this struggle for power, competent leaders mainly use rumors, advertisement, and negative campaigns to embarrass their rivals.

Propaganda of any kind is a great way of spreading your agenda to the target audience. If used the right way, it can bring the enemy to its knees without too much effort. It all boils down to this – defeating your rivals will help you to make a name for yourself.

Brand leadership is based on emotional connection. If you like to create and inspire loyalty, you ought to follow the 4-step process for forming a brand:

Be a great Follower
Simple Mission Statement Works Best
Brand Building for Leaders
Effective Brand Management Builds Reputation

Once you run through this process, it’s advisable to place all your energy and focus on spreading that charismatic aura. A charismatic leader is confident, focused, passionate, unique, and clairvoyant. If you strive to join the club, you might want to try and conceal your weakness by highlighting your strengths.

Part V: Developing Leadership

Despite being labeled as organized and lucrative, the creative approach which is embedded into the hearts of leaders is a treasure trove of ideas. To transform a concept into an ever-present reality is fundamentally a perspective that drives the society forward.

For a leader to climb the ladder of prosperity, it must gather valuable resources and knowledge and use that as a basis to launch its own project. Accurate and reliable sources are essential for making your ideas reach the implementation phase.

An outstanding leader embraces the role of a change agent, and test the idea prior to dispersing it. All things considered, leaders need to armed with the right equipment before entering the battle zone.

If you want to excel as a leader, you need to be proficient in the following areas:

Knowing the self
Knowing others
Knowledge of strategies

Prior to arriving at a conclusion, you might want to roam around and absorb knowledge from other prominent figures in your area of influence. Such an approach will help you not to be caught off guard when troubles start to crop up.

As Einstein once asserted: Imagination is more important than knowledge” this particularly refers to problem-solving. Awdhesh shares the same conviction and implies that imagination can help you understand the big picture, and even anticipate the potential outcome.

In either case, getting a firm grip on potential twists, will improve your decision-making and facilitate the process of becoming a one-of-a-kind leader. As a matter of fact, to materialize your ideas, you have to bring them into line with your followers’ expectations.

Regardless of the type of organization, there are four categories of people who are integrated into every system:

  • Leaders: A group of individuals who don’t require a babysitter to get the job done.
  • Followers: A highly motivated organizational body which acts upon instructions given by higher-ranking executives.
  • Shirkers: They try to sidestep some activities that are not appealing enough.
  • Resistors: They easily succumb to pressure and can’t cope with alteration of any kind.

It all leads to assembling a group of competent individuals that will form your inner circle. In order to keep up with the latest trends. It’s more than evident that teams should be composed of different characters who can rise to the occasion.

Despite their preferences, sharing a deep admiration for the leader is vital to keep them performing at a high level as a group. There are 5 unique personality layers that leaders are compelled to handle and lead:

Core Team
Ideological Team
Propaganda Team

In general, a team filled with contrast can stimulate productivity and tip the balance in favor of the organization.  

Part VI: Practicing Leadership

The bridge that connects leaders and followers is displayed through the symbol of trust that emanates from love. A genuine bond can only be forged in the fire of mutual understanding that incites leaders to take charge of the destiny of their followers.

Awdhesh underlines the 5 step-procedure that will remodel you into a trustworthy leader:

Trust Yourself – this is self-explanatory. Generally speaking, no one can trust you if you don’t feel the same way about you.
Core Belief – This step requires consistency and social cohesion. How can a group of people become your followers if they don’t share the same beliefs as you? Think about it!
Walking the Talk – If a leader doesn’t honor its word and fulfill its promises, it cannot win on the long haul. Evaluate the situation before committing to something!
Trust your Intuition – A trustworthy leader is competent to conduct long-term prognosis and help the followers to overcome the challenges ahead. Getting into the right frame of mind is vital to execute this step with perfection! 
Trust in God – By connecting with the Divine, we develop a confident attitude, and it helps us to shift our perspective.

On the path to becoming a world-class leader, you have to get the better of many factors that apt to obstruct your progress. The history has proven that leaders are more likely to succumb to temptation than ordinary people. It lures them into making split-second decisions only to feed their vanity and self-image.

In this case, corruption takes the place of careful planning, and it accelerates the downfall of these skillful persons. One small setback is more than enough for you to hit the ground in a blink of an eye. Wise leaders know how to maintain their composure and repel these tendencies.

Another key point worth mentioning is that leaders strive for excellence. To reach total perfection is impossible, but improvement as a team is the embodiment of successful leadership. By all means, leaders duty-bound to learn how to manage the organization.

Under those circumstances, leaders are urged to take the initiative in order to fulfill the longings of the stakeholders. For this reason, they must:

Manage the Boss
Manage the Subordinates
Manage the Customers
Manage the Competitors

The real issues occur when the leaders have to come to a conclusion. To increase the chances of successfully putting the plan into action, they must understand the problem, find a potential solution, and last but not least, find the perfect channel for implementation.

The final goal is creating a generation of new leaders, who can step up amidst all the confusion and pressure. As has been noted, it’s a blessing to have a group of organized and responsible individuals. The author believes that the process of cultivating leaders is on the same wavelength as harvesting crops.

First, you have to find the right seeds, and prior to dispersing the seeds over a vast area, you need to remove the weed and prepare the ground. If you execute all steps in the right manner, without a doubt, leaders will emerge, or in this case agricultural products.

Final Notes

The path to becoming a real linchpin in the sphere of leadership is paved with challenges and obstacles. It’s weird how all people who enjoy the presence of true mentors begin to take their shape and adjust to fit into the frame of a genuine leader.

A leader can get to the top only after assembling a group of followers who share the same aspirations and endorse the same prevailing ideology. Great leaders influence multiple generations, and their efforts create a legacy of life-altering ideas.

In other words, they strive for eternal life by being etched into the hears and minds of people for many years.

Followers should be reformed into decision-makers who are no longer dependent on someone. Your job as a role model would be to embrace the father figure and back their ascension. Create a suitable group that can be mentored without much effort because they understand the importance of self-management.

12min Tip 

If you can make heads or tails out of this practical guide, the next thing you should do is put it into action. Focus on the aspects that you can improve, and test your competence!

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