It is a profound honor to have been asked to write the foreword to this book. During my 30 year career as a CEO, consultant, and executive coach I have read more than 2,500 business books. In recent years, after being recognized as one of the top business experts in the world, dozens of authors have asked me to review their work. In 2018, Oleg asked me if I would read his book “Corporate Superpower – Cultivating A Winning Culture For Your Business” and possibly write a quote for the book jacket. I really loved that book and was more than happy to give it a strong recommendation —
“This book is among the most comprehensive, insightful and educational books I’ve ever read on how to build a world-class culture. I consider this a must read on this extremely critical topic.”
Then in early 2019 I got a note from Oleg asking if I would read a draft of this book and consider writing the foreword. I told him that I would only do it if I felt the book was truly excellent. However, this book is not excellent – it is the best business book I have ever read. This is a very serious statement for me, but I have no hesitation in saying it and let me tell you why.
I have a rule that if I get 50 pages into a book and have not highlighted anything, I stop reading it. As I read through the draft of Leaderology I highlighted just the ideas that I found particularly meaningful, yet found myself highlighting almost entire chapters. When I combined my notes of only the sections I had highlighted it totaled 33 pages! There were so many times I came across a short phrase that hit me like a thunderbolt, a powerful idea delivered with elegance and simplicity.
I’m a huge fan of Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, and I feel passionately that the ideas in this book are on the same level as Drucker’s timeless insights and will have a profound impact on business thinking for years to come.
In this book you will explore Oleg’s view that there are four essential elements to any business. Organization, culture, and leadership makeup the business itself and they exist to serve the fourth element – customer demand. He employs the analogy of comparing a business as a living organism and uses the human body as the example for this framework.
“Any organization is alive, much like a human or any other creature. Any company is formed by people to serve people. Organizations should be seen as living entities that can be taught to breathe, function, move and develop inside their specific environments.”
Oleg has even developed a new school of thought called “Leaderology,” which he defines as;
“A leader’s serendipity in finding successful strategies, effective solutions and approaches depend on a well-homogenized mixture of vision, competencies, intuition, love, knowledge, focus and concern about others. Here we should think of leaderology, a new but necessary term.”
Another key concept in the book is that it is impossible to lead a company successfully if you do not understand the nature of the organization, it’s DNA. According to Oleg’s typology of business there are five archetypes of organizations – producers, knowledge-dependent, location-dependent, donor-dependent, and state-affiliated organizations. Each of these archetypes demands a different kind of strategy, leadership, culture, and customer relationship. Although this might seem obvious, I have seen many organizations fail because they did not understand what kind of business they were actually trying to run.
Oleg has been recognized as one of the top thought leaders in the world on culture and in this book his sophisticated ideas reflect why he has held in such high regard. I was especially touched by Oleg’s philosophies on culture which are rooted in ideas such as humility, caring, respect, responsibility, fellowship, commitment and love. These are not terms you hear often enough in the business world but I can assure you that to run a successful organization these must be at the center of everything you do. Some people think that culture is a “touchy – feeley” subject, but it has been my experience that in most organizations culture is the area where you can create the greatest improvement in profitability (ROC = Return On Culture) or the fastest route to failure. According to Oleg:
“Culture connects people’s hearts and minds in their actions. It serves as a catalyzer of performance making human relations meaningful, productive, and rich in positive emotions whether among colleagues or in relations with customers. It breathes life into formal processes, hierarchical dependencies, and daily routines. Positive culture serves as a ministry of happiness for employees and customers as well.”
I have served as an executive coach to companies around the globe from startups to the Fortune 50 and one of my greatest challenges is trying to help a leadership team understand the importance developing a clear, vivid and compelling vision for the future of the company and the people who work in it. Thanks to Oleg I now have a meaningful way to communicate that concept through this excerpt from his book.
“Vision is a divine gift entrusted to those who will use it to empower others. Vision is a concentration of desires, dreams, potentials, and possibilities. A vision pushes people not just to do more but to do more than they think they are capable of.”
This book it is Oleg’s vision for what it takes to build and sustain a highly successful enterprise. I implore you to take your time and think deeply about what you are learning. From his life on fishing boats to now lecturing at university, Oleg has gained a unique perspective about how things work in the real world. To use his own analogy he understands business at a cellular level and you would do well to take his sage advice.
I am certain that Leaderology will be regarded as one of the most important business books of our time and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to play a small part in bringing Dr. Oleg Konovalov’s great wisdom to the world. I wish you every possible happiness and success.
– John Spence, One of the Top 100 business thought leaders in the world