Leaders Are All Fools!



By Matthew Kwan

Principal Consultant of Adams (www.adamshk.com)

Copyright © 2010.



Too many of us are under the illusion that people who are in leading positions are leaders.  In my own mind, they are just positional leaders and NOT true leaders at all!  In a lot of cases, these positional leaders are not even possessing the basic qualities of a leader.


So who are true leaders?  What leadership is about?  A lot of great authors have already written extensively on this topic.  Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, once replied in a TV programme to a MBA student that “Leaders are those who do the right things…”  I would agree very much from a 50 thousand feet level.  However, I would like to address this topic from a different angle.


Leadership, in a business context or any context, is not about the position you hold but the way you act.  We are not talking about your skills and knowledge but how you would react in a given circumstance and environment.  Even a fresh graduate, straight out from college, without any real working experience can be a true leader.  It is not a matter of qualifications as certificates would not help you to become a true leader.   However, I think all successful and respectful leaders are fools and a lot of them are foolishly making extra effort, believing in big and difficult to achieve visions, lowering themselves for the good of the whole, and as well as sacrificing personal belongings to reach new grounds.  In summary these sounds like foolish acts are:


1. Running Extra Miles

You will only be a follower if you are not running ahead of the game.  In order to be ahead of the game, it means you need to run not only an extra mile but breaking away from your own competitions.  Even though you are breaking away, it does not mean your competitors may not catch you and overtake you in due time.  So there is no easy way out, you just need to keep running if you want to stay in your leadership position!  I would like to share a mindset I often talk about “you can only know what I know yesterday but not tomorrow as I am moving forward all the time!”


2. Seeing Great Visions

Leadership is about leading team, group, department, organization…etc.  However, you can never lead without a vision.  Given any point in time, your vision must be clear enough to lead you towards the right direction with clear outcomes and at the same time being shared with your team.  You cannot be a true leader if your team cannot see what you see!  Though it is a very difficult and sometime painful process, you do not have a choice but to share your visions!


3. Being Noble

It is nearly impossible to be a great leader without integrity.  Your followers will only choose to follow you if you are respectful and noble.  Humility is often a function of nobleness.  It sounds very strange in our world today but it works perfectly in many ways!  A noble leader is someone with integrity and who is willing to trade off personal benefits for the sake of the followers and others.  The end result is your followers will follow you unconditionally in return.  I guaranteed you the joy of this if you dare to try!


4. Sacrificing Time, Money, Family, Relationships, Life…

Scientists are excellent examples of leaders that do not have positions (…well, until they get recognized and rewarded!).  They generally work very hard and very concentrate in their fields of research with most people thinking they are crazy and wasting time.  Yet they are all leaders in their own fields and often they are sacrificing personal time, money, family and relationships in order to breakthrough and reach new grounds.  True leaders must be prepared to sacrifice if you believe in your visions.  In some extreme cases, you may even be threatened to sacrifice life as your followers and oppositions are reluctant to follow when you are trying so hard to make changes for the good but damaging their personal interests!  Are you really willing?




About the Author

Matthew Kwan is Principal Consultant of Adams Company Limited (www.adamshk.com) responsible for business consulting and enterprise training.  He is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, lecturer, consultant working with enterprises and organizations in both commercial and Christian communities.  He served many years in multi-national companies including Intel, JP Morgan, Jardines with broad experience of Sales & Marketing and Management in multicultural and international settings.


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