Sunday, 4 January 2009

Leadership of Oneself and Others

At the time of a new and much heralded president taking office in 2009 in the U.S., I was thinking, "Why do we need leaders?" and "What are the essential qualities of leadership that promote innovation and change?". So I've been reading around what others have written on the subject and thinking about it and also thinking that this applies just as much to the question of leading oneself on whichever path we choose. Here are some not-so-ordered thoughts, some of which I admit I haven't fully digested myself, so I hope it makes sense and do tell me what you would add!
The purpose of leadership is to organize a group of people, the society, so as to enable, encourage, enthuse and help each member to fulfill their maximum potential in pursuit of common goals, accommodating individual needs and fostering, inspiring, directing and harmonizing individual aspirations for the common happiness and good of each and every one, and not causing harm either to those within your society or to those outside it.

Freshness - creativity, looking at things with the eyes of a child with the willingness to play around, to test hypotheses, to jump to conclusions, to adapt quickly to new evidence that contradicts your conclusions, to come up with new conclusions, to make quick decisions, to get back up from setbacks, to learn from failure and quickly start anew, to listen to one's emotions, to forgive, to forget and never to regret.

Understanding - knowledge, active reading, seeking out people who can help us, always listening, learning and open to new ideas, aware of any signs that we have gone astray, gaining experience and digesting and thinking through what we already know to better understand its implications, to resolve contradictions and to find out what we do not know, to distinguish intuition from impulse, to identify bad habits through meditation and cultivating awareness and by replacement eliminate them, to reject temptation and only afterwards turn to reason lest reason be justifier of temptation, and finally alongside good habits to develop right judgement with a strong mind and a pure heart.

Nurture - care of new ideas, and new people, both the young and those who haven't yet settled into the function that society has bestowed on them. They need to be protected, watered and given warmth until they are big enough to look after themselves and find how they fit into the whole and they must learn of the rules and principles that have developed over time to keep the whole well organized, efficient, harmonious, fair and true, and question and mould these principles and abide by them and develop good habits and not let these disintegrate over time so as to maintain a safe and happy environment for all.

Life - making things real to generate excitement and motivation, imagination used to create mental blueprints for action, concrete goals.

Ambition - vision of distant horizons and the ambition to take small steps to get there, to not lose sight of the bigger picture, a balanced approach, to make progress little & often in all departments, to distinguish between commitments and interests and to reduce randomness. Having committed to something, to pursue it with dynamic will power and be attentive to the inner voice of our conscience to keep us on the right path, and charisma to share your vision with those around you.

Momentum - concentrate on one thing at a time, go to the root and take massive action, energy and joy and tireless work that doesn't feel like work at all.

Bravery - confidence in yourself and others, fearlessness, perseverance, willingness to take risks, to make difficult decisions, to lead by example, to be peaceful and kind without compromising the truth or one's ideals, to do what is right and to take responsibility.

Signalling - signposts along the path, clarity, feedback, measuring success, accountability, calm proportionate action, follow-through for the path has no endpoint and there are always new horizons, humility, patience, generosity, compassion, diplomacy, equality, bonding, unity & oneness. Consideration and attentiveness to the needs of others, sincerity & thoughtfulness, kindness and understanding, expecting the best from people but not taking them for granted, gratefulness, doing your best for each of them, breaking down delusions and barriers of otherness. Just as important as what you do is the spirit in which you do it. Broadcast peace, prosperity and love.

But how to put all this into practice? Now that is the mark of a great leader...

If life were a test,
How would you do better?

If life were a tennis match,
Could you win against yourself?

If life were a piece of music,
How should it be played?

If life were a summer breeze
Have you learnt how to fly?



  1. Truly, a GOOD leader is one who knows how to lead himself in leading others -- to where they ought to be.
    Very BRIGHTLY written, Okei dude. Thanks for sharing.

  2. The mark of a great leader? I think it's also someone who is able to help others recognize their own potentials and inspire the people around him/her to be the best they can be.

    Good blog, Okei.

  3. lovely .....deep perspective ....a leader has heart ..has morals ..has values for all those around him/her .....then as you say their is the nurturing side to reach their own full potential and help others achieve theirs ....but then one part I might add in if I may ...I also think a leader great one should have the ability to recognize their own weakness to also accept sharing a role of leadership when is needed for the better of all involved ...too many times a leader forms the belief he/she must do it all alone ....but its not about that ..its about doing the best that can be for all involved and that means recognizing that oneself may not always be the right choice to lead at a certain moment the ability to adapt and even hand over the reins sometimes ....ooohhh I am rambling again ...sorry okei ...your blog is wonderful just gave me some food for thought ...

  4. Indeed I think I put too much emphasis on the leader and not enough on the follower. I would also add something like...

    "The purpose of society is to provide structures to enable people to work together in service of each other - to help people help each other and thus maximize the happiness of all."

    I hope to come back to this at some point and incorporate any further ideas and clarify my thoughts.

    Shahrizat, that was my first paragraph pretty much. ;^) What makes things real as opposed to just dry theory and philosophy is imagination and examples of how it works really the theory needs to be applied to itself, lol.

  5. Oops. yeah I did kind of repeated you there, didn't I? My apologies... heh heh.