Know How, Ram Charan (2007)


Know-How: The 8 Skills That Separate People Who Perform from Those Who Don’t


Features: Great product!
By (author): Ram Charan

The new grand theory of leadership by Ram Charan . . . The breakthrough book that links know-how—the skills of people who know what they are doing— with the personal and psychological traits of the successful leader.

How often have you heard someone with a commanding presence deliver a bold vision that turned out to be nothing more than rhetoric and hot air? All too often we mistake the appearance of leadership for the real deal. Without a doubt, intelligence, vision, and the ability to communicate are important. But something big is missing: the know-how of running a business—the capacity to take it in the right direction, do the right things, make the right decisions, deliver results, and leave the people and the business better off than they were before.

For well over four decades, Ram Charan has been learning in the most visceral way the underlying reasons why leaders succeed and fail. As one of the most influential advisers to top management teams of leading companies around the world, he has had a front-row seat to observe the cause and effect of leadership practices and behaviors.

Ram Charan’s insight into the real content of leadership provides you with the eight fundamental skills needed for success in the twenty-first century:

• Positioning (and, when necessary, repositioning) your business by zeroing in on the central idea that meets customer needs and makes money
• Connecting the dots by pinpointing patterns of external change ahead of others
• Shaping the way people work together by leading the social system of your business
• Judging people by getting to the truth of a person
• Molding high-energy, high-powered, high-ego people into a working team of leaders in which they equal more than the sum of their parts
• Knowing the destination where you want to take your business by developing goals that balance what the business can become with what it can realistically achieve
• Setting laser-sharp priorities that become the road map for meeting your goals
• Dealing creatively and positively with societal pressures that go beyond the economic value creation activities of your business

Know-How is the missing link of leadership. By showing how the eight know-hows link to, interact with, and reinforce personal and psychological traits, Ram Charan provides a holistic and innovative portrait of successful leaders of the twenty-first century.

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I did take a couple ideas from Mr. Charan’s book as worthwhile. He focuses on building strong leadership teams and setting goals and priorities. Those are both worth looking at closely.
“The job of a leader is to see the person as a whole, over time, in a variety of situations, and work backward from what you observe to determine what the person’s individual gifts really are.” You do that by spending a lot of time with your direct reports, talking with them and focusing on their positive attributes. In a large company or district, you should be able to build a pipeline of leaders.
Mr. Chamran likes teams that demonstrate “unity without uniformity.” If one of the team members has behavior that hurts the team, the leader has to confront it. Identify the “energy-drainers and energy-generators.”
Mr. Chamran likes the idea of setting both clear attainable goals and “stretch goals.” Stretch goals show people that they can accomplish more than they thought possible. The next step is pretty obvious – setting priorities, assigning the right people to be in charge, communicating the priorities and assigning resources towards those priorities.
Mr. Charan gives nice examples with all of his chapters. Some are fictional and others are related to actual businesses.
I found this to be a nice “reminder” book, stated in different ways, about leadership and leading.