Volume 10 Issue 2 News & Resources | June 2017
Oh my leader, please lead...
1. Leadership in fantasy land
When one is appointed to the post of being a leader, it is the beginning of one of most interesting phase of one’s life, either on the enjoyable or distressing part. One can never be sure of the end of the leadership term. Of course, some do vied for leadership positions, while other may have just “fallen” into the position. No matter which routes which have been taken, the leader is now expected to lead, i.e. including managing the whole system. And, he must lead in the best of ways without having to make life difficult to anyone except himself. It is expected that all decisions which will be made by the leader to be of the wisest and accurate positions given the circumstances surrounding the sticky problems. The leader is also expected to know the way out of every knots and joints in a problem. The leader is expected to be perfect. He should satisfy everyone and be ready to smile in the most distressing situations. Yes, this is the traits of the imaginary leader the people are looking for. If you are not up for this, better just skip the race. Just be a common peasant and be content with whatever given.
2. Leadership in realm of reality
In reality, some if not most, of our leaders are far from perfect. Countries went to war sometimes mainly to the eagerness to obey the whims and lusts of corrupt leaders to usurp and exploits other seemingly weaker neighbours. Innocent people got killed and displaced to uncertain places as direct consequences from the unscrupulous decisions by the so called leaders. In the interest of expanding their own ego, innocent citizen got entangled in the ensuing conflicts and families are broken apart. It will take at least few generations before things will recover for the better, if ever. And, all these are due to the leaders’ action in handling real conflicts or problems. Collateral damage is just part of the package. So, in reality, leaders are no longer the fountain of solitude and wisdom, but instead, the source of all the evil doings. What have happened to humanity in the modern era? Why are we stuck in this rut? How will humanity move forward? Well, despair will not take us anywhere except to push us down further. Life is always about hope. As long we have hope and dreams, we will find a way out. The first to go is the corrupt leader. The second one is the corrupt assistants who have provided all the scaffoldings for their bosses. The people will bring the change, somehow or rather.
3. Leadership in Hope
We are natural leaders. We have been leading the pack the first moment we have fought for our survival. We are champions. The leadership role is natural to us. No doubt some people led better than others. But we are not that all bad. We have made good progress so far. If you are reading this article, it is already a proof of your capability of a leader, having the ability to lead all your senses to read and try to comprehend these ramblings. Some will fail even to finish the first sentence. Leadership must start with a sincere intention to make things better for all. Self-indulgence and self-serving decisions are out of the window. It is all about making things better for the followers and preparing a solid grounding for the future generations. In times of despair, hope is the last thing in people’s mind. It is the role of a leader to give hope and show the way to fulfil the hopes. All of us can appreciate that all leaders are imperfect and have their follies, but we would expect leaders to be the most positive and optimistic of a person. To them we look for inspirations and solitudes and leaders should reciprocate by showing this exact character. In hope we will lead.
4. Leadership in Academia
Academia harbours many leaders. Given the opportunity, I believe many academics will shine in the role of a leader. Though, realistically, we can only select a few leaders, and the rest will just have to accept the reality of being the followers. This leader-follower dynamic in an academic setting is always very interesting and sometimes can be quite explosive (luckily, not expletive). A normal leader in an academic setting will be a term-based appointment. The leader can be called, for example: Dean, Programme Coordinator, Head of Department or Programme Director. Whatever the title, it will involve having to deal with their own colleagues and even some seniors. There are routine academic matters that have to be implemented every semester or what will be categorized as management matters. These are quite straightforward and seldom become the source of disagreement. The typical sources of altercation and disputes are when some quarters in the faculty tried to force their own version of reality or when they are in strong disagreement on some decisions taken by the leadership, especially, when they felt they have been victimized or unfairly treated. Things can easily get out of hand when rules are put aside or rules are freely interpreted to suit one’s position. A leader in such situation will certainly have to take tough decisions. The most important thing is the urgency to root out the major discrepancies in the arguments on the issues in hand. Leaders should not be haste and always be open to all. In this, any leader will be tested for their honesty and integrity. All in all, the leader can be assured, some will like him and some will never do. Ah yes, we are only here in the leadership position to deliver our responsibilities, and not so much to ensure we will be liked by all. Even the Prophets have enemies, who are we then to complain?
5. Leadership for SALE?
One should aspire to lead to the betterment of everyone. It is a good intention to have. Leader will always leave legacies. We should aspire to leave lasting and beneficial legacies. The future generations will thank us for all we have done. We may not enjoy the fruit of our actions. But, we will be glad and happy to leave this temporary abode knowing we have done good and not sowed the seeds of destructions. The price of leadership is not cheap and it is not for everyone. Given the choice, I would be more than happy to be a follower. To assist the appointed leader to achieve our common dreams would be a great honour. It is also my belief that if someone has been given the trust to lead, the person should give his utmost for the people. Personal gains should be the last thing in the leaders’ mind. May our leader be truthful and succeed in the efforts. Rome was not built in one night. More so, a great leader needs time…and in time and patience we are almost lacking.
Written by :
Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad
School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering