The Makings Of Great Leaders

It was a tiring day today, packed with activities. It started last night, with my advance class participants. It was pleasant to meet them for the first time at the birth of a new year. It has been two years now since this group has been attending my advance program, and I am happy to see them to have progressed so much in life in terms of happiness, health and wealth. They are much more aware of their thoughts, words and actions.

This morning, I conducted a two-hour in-house workshop entitled “Leadership”, with a group of executives in Bridgestone Armstrong (M) Sdn. Bhd. in Shah Alam which is about 50 km south of Kuala Lumpur. This was my first training session for the year. During the training program, I asked the participants of the qualities of a proper leader. The answers ranged from knowledgeable, disciplined, good time management, intelligent, diplomatic, etc. I smiled and said that these were the common traits in a leader. Then I continued to ask on the special qualities that make a leader great and outstanding, that distinguish the leader from the other leaders. As they gave many more answers which mirrored the answers given earlier i.e, educated, pleasant personality etc, I continued to shake my head that finally they gave up.

Then I shared with them; the qualities that made a leader outstanding were qualities related to the heart of hearts, the spiritual heart. Some of the important qualities are kindness, compassion, genuine interest and of course the most powerful of all qualities, the unconditional love. As I said this, one of the participants asked for an example.

Many a times, leaders stop to check on their subordinates only when there is a problem or when the subordinate has not done his work properly. The truth is, problems usually arise only once in a while. And finally when the subordinate is hauled up with problems, he starts feeling that he is not appreciated and the bosses are just waiting for him to make mistakes and later reprimand him.

Although in front of the boss he may not utter anything, but in his heart the employee would start having resentment towards his superior and the establishment he works for, in general. As this continues, he may not have the motivation to give his best at work anymore, thus reducing the quality of his work; and if this is the outcome of more than one employee at the same time, at the end of the day the quality of the product or the service rendered by the organization will not be up to the mark.

In the above example, even though the leader was doing his job as a leader, at the end of the day it has made an employee bitter, and ultimately caused the company to lose in terms of quality of the service rendered by the employee. If this process goes on throughout the organization, then it is a matter of time before the company closes down. This would be due to the inferior quality of product or services rendered.

Now, let us see how an outstanding leader would handle this. First and foremost, the leader would be the first person to acknowledge in public whenever the subordinate does a good job. The subordinate would receive a pat on the back in the form of genuine gratitude from the leader and further encouragement to perform his best. This would make the subordinate feel good and he would want to further continue perform his best.

At anytime when the subordinate makes a mistake, the leader would genuinely care to find out what caused the disorientation. And he would be gentle in reprimanding the subordinate if at all it was truly the subordinate’s mistake. This would normally be done in private so as not to embarrass the subordinate in front of the rest of the employees. Generally, the subordinate who had always been showered with positive statements in the past, would feel that he should correct his mistakes and prove to his leader that it was only a one off thing, thus he is worthy of the trust placed on him.

I finished off the session saying that the difference between truly great leaders and ordinary leaders lies in the qualities of the spiritual heart; and to this my participants nodded. Then, we all had one practical session to point out what I said; it ran for about twenty minutes. At the end of the session, there were smiles on the faces of the participants as they experienced what I had said earlier.
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