You are viewing an archive of our posts and leadership content. We have evolved. Click here for the New Leadership Hub.

Sex, Leadership & Rock and Roll

by The Architect April 25, 2013
Book Author: 
Sex, Leadership & Rock and Roll

I once heard a guy called Frank Douglas, a Senior HR VP at Shell, say of large organizations, "We recruit for an orchestra, then berate people for not innovating like a jazz band." Which is, essentially, the theme behind this very enjoyable book, written by one of our Hub members, Peter Cook, though the author favours Rock'n' Roll as a balance between structure (orchestra) and chaos (jazz)

Businesses need to reflect the markets they serve and those markets are now less structured, predictable and rule-bound than ever before. And employees and customers are more questioning and challenging than ever before. "Leading in such a business environment," says Peter Cook in this book, "is no longer like conducting an orchestra, where the band has the same sheet music, players know what instruments they must play and the audience accept what they are given. In 21st century society, leaders must move from being score writers to becoming improvisers."

The author then uses the analogy of leading a rock band for creatively leading your organization today, including such nice turns of phrase as "have more productive fun at work, i.e. 'aha' (inspiring), 'ha, ha' (laughing) and 'cha, cha' (moving) moments."

The book title refers to three critical areas in leading an organization today - Relationships (the Sex), Motivation & Leadership (the Drugs) and High Performance (the Rock 'n' Roll).

Cook sustains his riff admirably throughout the book and manages to sneak in beneath the entertaining approach a series of important subjects - from complexity theory and structured ambiguity to Fred Herzberg's findings on motivation and demoralization at work.

I have to read a lot of business and leadership books for my work. I even write them occasionally. This one was a refreshing change; combining entertainment with serious business reading, as Cook has done with this book, is definitely the way to go.

 I felt a little over-punned by the time I'd finished - Every rock song title or line from a song you can imagine is pulled in by the author to make puns on various leadership issues - from Dylan's 'The Times They Are A-Changing' to Hendrix's 'Scuse me while I kiss the sky'. But, it's all part of the fun and helps the book work. Peter shares some lessons from the book over in his My Page in The Hub (search for Peter Cook in the Browse Members tab at the top of this page) and shares other insights from the book in his post in the Hub Book Club (you can't miss him: he's the guy with the electric guitar in his picture). He's also created a Sex, Leadership and Rock 'n' Roll Group over in the Groups section of The Hub.

Phil Dourado (disguised as The Architect).