The makings of a great leader
This world needs great men and women. And it is a terrible thought
that some young people might have fallen through the cracks of society
their potential lost to the world. Perhaps there might have been a young
person who could have come up with a cure for AIDS or a lasting solution
for a mental condition called Schizophrenia. May be there could have
been a young person who could have come up with a solution for poverty
or hunger. May be a young person who could have created a new kind of
robot that can think for itself.
The thought that such young people have not been discovered, that
they have been overlooked or that they have simply faded away is a
terrifying thought. Because these young people could have been leaders.
Leadership was a subject which was touched on 'The Final Step', a
workshop conducted by John Keells Foundation for the benefit of
undergraduates of Sri Lanka universities. This year's programme was held
in collaboration with the career guidance unit (CGU) at Sri
Challenge the process
"Leadership is trying to achieve a shared goal. It exists at all
levels. Whether you are in a family, in an organization or within a
country, you have to exhibit signs of leadership. It is absolutely
essential if you are thinking of growth, if you are thinking of
innovation, if you are thinking of doing new things. It goes beyond
individuals, communities and countries and you will see that in
practices, ideas and philosophies. Leadership doesn't exist only in
people but in other things as well", said chairman, Environmental
Foundation Ltd., Sharmini Ratwatte.
In her address Ratwatte drew from her own experience and readings and
outlined what you need to be a good leader. She emphasized the fact that
if you are going to lead, you have to challenge the process. And that
means experimenting and taking risks.
You need to get other people excited about it, you need to tell them
about it, rally people to your cause. Each person has different
strengths and you need to have diversity in your group. You have to
collaborate with others, these are things you learn on the way.
"Steve Jobs was not just a leader. Mark Zuckerberg is not just a
leader. They are called disruptive innovators. They did things unheard
of. They did thing differently, they changed the course.
They had skills in them that made them innovators. You need to ask
questions and observe. You need to network - talk to people from
different disciplines. Today the world needs people who can think
differently. What I learned about leadership is you have to be
passionate about your goals. You need to be hardy and take setbacks.
Stay on course. You need to be organized and have good planning," said
In his address Director, Gateway Group, Dr. Harsha Alles divided
individuals and teams into two groups: High System and Low System. He
said that some people work with extremely good systems and that others
have no system at all. There are also people with high empathy and low
"If you lead with low systems and low empathy you and the
organization will be in chaos. You may be very intelligent and an
organized high system person but if you have no empathy you will be
considered a very cold person. Then there is the third category with
high empathy where you are considered a good person but with no
organization. So we must all target high systems and high empathy.
Especially in Sri Lanka you need brains and hearts. Then you can be
successful", said Alles.
Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka (pvt) Ltd Sriyan de S.
Wijeyeratne summarized everything said before into IQ, EQ and FQ.
"When it comes to IQ you are all the highest in the country. EQ
involves empathy, concern for others and then there is FQ - Flexibility
quotient. IQ, EQ and FQ are necessary for a good leader. Ask yourself:
Are you practicing or scoring? You go to university and study but you
cannot perform in the work place. Does that make sense? How much are you
worth for an hour? We have only about 40 hours of productive time every
week," said Wijeyeratne.
Wijeyeratne also divided people into two categories.
"There are X people and there are Y people. X people don't trust
others. They think that people cannot contribute to business, that other
people cannot work in a team, that others will not want to be motivated.
Then there are Y people. They genuinely believe everybody is
talented, everybody can contribute to the organization, everyone wants
to work in the team, everyone loves to work and contribute.
X types of people are managers and Y types of people are leaders.