“Tackling Complexity” by Anu Rathninde

Tackling Complexity: Tough-Love Interactions to Navigate Uncertainty, Promote Positivity, and Deliver Performance Excellence

Anu Rathninde
S-lila Business (2022)
ISBN 9789811825552
Reviewed by Jill Rey for Reader Views (08/2022)

Author Anu Rathninde has dedicated his life to understanding why some leaders are successful and others seem destined to fail. Recognizing that there is an abundance of literature on leadership, Rathninde takes a different approach. Leaders must embrace complexity, understanding that the very nature of complexity is uncertainty and that a leader’s mindset is what is standing in their way.

“Tackling Complexity” seeks to stand out uniquely from the broad array of leadership literature. Using the SILLA Model, Rathninde approaches this reading through the lens of personal experience and well-known breakdowns and successes in leadership throughout the years. Leaning heavily on General Electric, Boeing, Ford, and several other large, recognizable brands, “Tackling Complexity” dissects the company changes occurring when shifts in leadership took place. For instance, one well-known breakdown in leadership occurred when General Electric’s CEO Jack Welch, passed a very successful and brightly shining torch to Jeff Immelt, who quickly failed to continue the traditions of success instilled by Welch. Rathninde uses these stories and examples to compare and contrast against the SILLA leadership model consisting of five key elements in a never-ending loop of (1) Systems Thinking, (2) Internalization, (3) Interactions, (4) Learning, and (5) Adoption. 

Leadership is no easy task. Leaders must model behavior and values while steering the organization in the right direction and aligning organizational goals. I appreciated Rathninde’s recognition that to do this, leaders must be aware of their technical and organizational knowledge gaps. Everyone knows leaders do not operate in a vacuum. For instance, Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg failed to recognize these gaps, which led to the eventual breakdown and catastrophic consequences when the MAX 737 was rushed to market and ultimately proved detrimental. Rathninde details this breakdown and where the gaps persisted that ultimately led to these unfortunate events, costing lives, jobs, and reputations. Using these highly publicized leadership failures, “Tackling Complexity” is able to provide unique perspectives, useful models, and a champion guide for leaders amongst a packed field of leadership studies and business resources. All industries and all levels of leaders will benefit from the SILLA model detailed within. Rathninde humbly shares his own experiences, personally and professionally, in this cumulation of his studies on leadership. Using distinguished names across several organizations, he is able to teach us from the experiences of others and offer solutions to embrace and understand the complex nature of leadership.

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