Sunday, 23 October 2011


What is a Dad?

A Dad is a person who is loving and kind,
And often he knows what you have on your mind.

He's someone who listens, suggests, and defends.
A dad can be one of your very best friends!
He's proud of your triumphs, but when things go wrong,
A  dad can be patient and helpful and strong
In all that you do, a dad's love plays a part.

There's always a place for him deep in your heart.
And each year that passes, you're even more glad,
More grateful and proud just to call him your dad!
Thank you, Dad...
for listening and caring, for giving and sharing,
but, especially, for just being you!

...Author Unknown

Every time when people ask me who is my idol leader, I couldn’t help myself but to think of my late father. I believe leadership is not only for the powerful and the prominent. Millions of people offer profoundly inspirational leadership in their everyday lives. So it was with my father. He was not a Superman. He was an ordinary, everyday hero. He was a great man ... and not only a great man but also a great father and a great teacher.  He respected people around him. People love him. He lived a life of humility, decency, authenticity, and commitment. I was blessed to have such a great father.

Naturally outgoing and happy, he exercised quiet self-control even in the face of considerable adversity. He didn't lose his temper. He didn't curse or cheat or lie. By my measure, this is certainly the stuff of leadership. His achievement in life was not winning an election or getting a big promotion or living in a big house. Rather, it was leading a fine, long life and filling it with honour and love.

It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was…Anne Sexton

My father was a visionary. He knew the future would be bright for his children if we had an education. For him, education is a means to a higher quality of life, not a richer life. He made us aware of it consistently. The way he did and think make me want to be a person like he was. I remember one evening in 2004 when my father and I were sit in the backyard and enjoy our evening tea, my father told me that he believed I can be a very successful person in the future. He encouraged me to study hard so I could someday go to university and create my own life history.

My father was the best – there is no competition. He gave my family all he had and worked hard to upkeep the family. He loved us all to no end. He showed me what it really means to be a great person, as well as the importance of generosity, kindness, and respect. He has shown me the significance of hard work, dedication, discipline, and having strong morals. He has taught me how to live a life full of love, laughter, and friendships that will last a lifetime. His major influence on me is that he has made me a very determined person. I never give up, even if I feel my adversities can sometimes be overwhelming.

My Father was also a lifelong learner. Because of circumstances beyond his control, he didn't have the opportunity to go to a higher school. He taught himself to read. He never used a calculator in monitoring his inventory or managing his finances--everything was hand written after mental calculation. Beside his work as a government servant, he has also been a keen farmer too ever since I can remember. The vegetables and paddy he grew reflects the caring attention he gave to them and so to his family too.

            My father came from a poor family. When he was young, his parents did not have a lot of money. When my brothers and I don’t see something that we want to eat and then complain that, “There’s nothing to eat,” my father always tells us the same story. “You know, when I was young, all I had for a few days were ketchup rice... because that’s all we had –rice and ketchup.” Being forced to have that lifestyle when he was a young boy moulded him into a strong young man who learned to make the most of what he had. My father tells me stories of his young life, and that makes me feel so fortunate and grateful for everything that I have.           


Only a dad with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame
To show how well he has played the game;
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come and to hear his voice.

Only a dad with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd,
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad but he gives his all,
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing with courage stern and grim
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen:
Only a dad, but the best of men.

Edgar A. Guest

My father has been an enormous influence on me for many reasons. Inspired by my father, I have worked diligently toward my own goal even when I am strongly challenged. He instilled in me a positive attitude and always encouraged me with positive affirmations and telling me that nothing was impossible. During the challenging times I cannot help but recall my father's stories, of his own hardships as he worked toward a better future. His ability to improve his family's life has inspired me to always try my hardest to get the best out of life.  Thanks to him, I have more opportunities than he had at my age. I feel that if I do not take advantage of everything he has provided for me, I am being lazy and a disappointment to him. I believe that if my dad was able to achieve such a comfortable life with very little to start out with, I should be able to do the same because of all the advantages I have compared to him.

My father always stressed that I should respect each other. At work I always try to put on myself in the other person's shoes. I think it makes a lot easier to understand where someone is coming from. I realise that sometimes it is so difficult when someone has a different view than me and I don't understand why. However, I  have to really think about why they feel how they do and be more sensitive. I believe that people have much respect for those who can compromises and in the long run it shows, a lot.

He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it (Clarence Budington Kelland). My father lived all of the lessons he has taught me.  He was showered with affection wherever he went and no enemies. I will always admire him in each and every way. His love and spirit will surely carry me through for the rest of the journey I have yet to make.…

My Sort of Leadership Story

When people talk about leadership, the first thing that comes to mind is the politicians.  Or it could be some bosses that they might have known somewhere in their walks of life.  I bet many of us consider leaders are the people who have close contacts with us, regardless of the type of relationships we are having.  Talking about leadership, I try to recall back on when was the last time I feel so inspired and passionate about some sort of leadership stories.  Sadly, it was none.  But to tell the truth, we do not have to look that far to have someone to inspire us.

I would relate my stories with the word love.  As I am writing this piece of entry, nothing that I could feel or think of except of my feelings.  When I think what matters the most in my life, I would say love.  Yes, love.  It is my love towards my son, my husband and both of our family (mine and my husband’s) of which I feel truly blessed with these entire godsends.  There a many people that could be mentioned here in my writing in regard to love, but someone for sure that I would write about now is my mother.  Her determination that she had put forth in her 59 years of life, has given me so much privilege and mileage.

I came from a small, middle-income family.  My mom was a divorcee when I was still a little girl.  I was only three years old when my dad left us.  To put it, I never felt anything close to love from a dad because mine was gone long, long time ago.  Being the only child in the family, that does not mean I am a spoilt brat but some of my friends back in the school years used to call me that and knew nothing about each other.  I went to the all-girl school which was located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur and most of the girls in the school either came from wealthy families or from high profiles parents.  While most of them would came to school with their drivers driving the Mercedes, BMW or any other expensive car brands, I on the other hand took the school bus which made me had to wake up as early as 5am during the schooling days to avoid the traffic.  Hassle? Yes, indeed.  But somehow, along the way I was growing up in that school, it had thought me that life was never easy and it will never be easier when I am older.

Coming back to my mom (since this entry is about leadership and I have chosen to write about her), she on the other hand would always be there to support me regardless of anything.  Maybe that was because we only have each other and nothing more.  I always feel bad about me not having a dad, unlike other families that I know.  And being a mother it made her realized that I was miserable because of it.  What she would do most of the time was talking to me, trying to understand me more even though she was busy with her own life.  I remember back then that she used to be on double shift at the office and also worked part time in a restaurant.  It was all because she had to cover for our expenses and also to accommodate to my needs.  I was left alone at home when she had to be at work but she never forgot to prepare everything before she left.  Being a child, nothing that I understood at that point of time on what was going on.

I was an active student back in school.  Participated in school netball team, played in the school band and captain of the school cheerleading team made me sometimes restless and needed to skip school, especially on Wednesday, because I hated the Geography class, and Friday, because I found that PE (Physical Exercise) class was not important.  I would just sit at home and listened to my music and watched television.  Without to her knowledge at first that I was missing from school for some days, she urged me to tell her the truth if I was skipping school.  I lied.  I told her that I went to school as normal. The next thing I know, she slapped me on the face for lying to her.  I was so angry with what she did and we did not speak to each other for a week.  Another incident which she had caught me lying for the second time, we argued big time.  We were screaming at each other and I was slamming everything that my hands could touch.  Be it the telephone, video player or door, just name it.  Everything was thrown to the floor because we were argued over something silly.  She prohibited me from going out with my friends just because they came from wealthy families.  Not understanding and knowing her real intentions for doing that, I in the end kicked her on the stomach and left the house.

When I came to my senses at around 3am, I returned home and went straight to bed.  She came to my room, thinking that I was asleep (which I was not) and sat by the bed.  She was rubbing my face and kissed me on the forehead while she said something that broke me into tears.  She said that she would always love me no matter what I did to her and all she needed me to do was for me to apologize to her about the incident which had caused her a serious pain.  She lastly said that all she did was because she loved me very much and she mentioned something about having a good discipline was crucial in life.  I always thought that she always had something to argue with me about, to stop me from doing the things that I love, and that all happened because she just did not want to see me happy.  I believe that the real issue back then was us not speaking and understanding each other and did not realizing it.

Now, being alive in this world for almost three decade and being married to my husband and having a son, I finally understood on why my mother did what she did all the years I was growing up.  It was all because of love.  Her love to me is more than money could buy and she does want to see me happy.  She used to say that I won’t be able to understand what she had done to me that I could only get it after I had my own children.  And yes, she was right.  And she was right all along.  I finally understand her behavior towards me were all because she wanted to see me drawing my lines and becoming a successful person in my life and not ending my life like typical wealthy children, spoilt brat.

Life has been better in terms of my relationship with my mother.  She had proven (at least to me) that it is very important for every individual to be a leader, be it a leader to a small family or some other kind.  She proved that leadership has to be trained and in order to have it, takes years of hardship and determination.  If only she did not do what she had done to me, I will not be able to be at the top or reached whatever that I have reached in my life so far.  I have wasted much of my time for not listening to her on any grounds and for that I appreciate every single time being with her now.  It was enough for me to ignore her during those times and now I want to make it up to her by taking care of her and spending the time I have with her.  I can’t afford to break her heart anymore as I did the last time.  She had sacrificed a lot for my own good that she neglected hers.  As we all know, nothing could ever replaced all the good deeds that was done by our mothers but still, that does not mean that we can just simply shut them out of our lives.

All the good teaching that she had taught me about, be it her own determination and leadership story in her own way in bringing up a child, I must say that I adore my mother so very much and I truly am sorry for all the wrong I had caused her.  Every single thing that I done now, I would relate it to my mother and remember the things that she had said and done.  I never thought that I would relate to her story for a leadership entry in someone’s blog, but indeed, it is worth sharing.  My mother has always been there to inspire me but regret, it is only now that I realized that she is in fact some sort of leadership story.

Becoming a leader

It was in year 2008 when I applied for the post of Administrative and Diplomatic Officer (PTD). During that time, I was working as a programmer at a private company and I’ve been with the company for almost three years. At first, I never had an interest to be a government officer. One of the reasons is Malaysian citizens have a bad impression towards the government’s service. But until one day, a friend of mine who was also a PTD told me about her responsibility in serving the citizens and the feel of belongings for being part of Malaysian’s future.  From that moment, I said to myself that I want to be a dedicated citizen, who is not only serving the stakeholders but also leading an organization.  Alhamdulillah, during May 2009, I received an offer letter for the post of PTD and without hesitation, I forwarded my 24 hour resign letter to the human resource department of the IT Company. 

The first six months was a very challenging moment for me as I need to learn to adapt to a very different working environment. I was responsible to lead a newly born unit in Human Resource Department, Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture. 

Leading a team is not an easy task as it has to make sure that all members have the same mission, vision and objectives. Some people said that leaders are not born but made, and some people said that leaders are born.
But, how do we know that we are leading a team or just managing a team? I read a lot of books on leadership and books on management. Both of them look pretty much the same but there are differences between both. According to Wikipedia, “management is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively which comprises planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling an organization or effort for the purpose of accomplishing a goal”. Usually, managers will manage according to methods and approaches taught by different experts or gurus and concerned primarily with processes for management of people and money. While leadership, according to Gil Pizano, “is a person who guides others toward a common goal, showing the way by example, and creating an environment in which other team members feel actively involved in the entire process. A leader is not the boss of the team but, instead, the person that is committed to carrying out the mission of the Venture.”  In other word, Leadership only concerned with setting direction of the organization and mobilizing people towards it.
When we looked at the definition of leadership, and we reflect it back to our life, we will realize that we all have leadership role in life whether it related to work, school, or outside.  

Different from management, leadership has no methods, tools or approach, but leadership has style.  It depends on one’s personal qualities like courage, patients and the ability to build relationships and to motivate people. There is no ‘right’ way in leadership and leadership is best learned from observations, coaching, or stories of people who bring changes, who influenced others, who lead. Leadership stories can be a source of information for young leaders like us to gain knowledge, to gain experiences as we learn from examples. 

There are peoples that have inspired me to be a leader.  Tun Mahathir Mohamad, our 4th Prime Minister who had serving the nation for 22 years; Tan Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, 7th governor of Bank Negara but the 1st woman to hold the position; Haji Burhanuddin Md. Radzi, Managing Director of Les Copaque Production Sdn Bhd, who achieve success in animation industry without any experience in related field. Their stories amazed me and inspired me to have my own followers as leader without followers cannot be called as leader.  And remember that, followers will always observed and checked their leaders as they want leaders who are credible, and do what they say they will do. Therefore, never ever make casual promises as their faith on us will fade away. 

I’ve been in a post of leader for more than two years now and I know that I still lack the competency to lead. So what should I do to be a good leader?  As I went through the journey, there are peoples that gave tremendous support to me like parents, KPSUs, SUB, colleagues and friends. My SUB is an example of a good leader as he successfully led the organization to achieve mission, vision and objectives of the organization. He was like a mentor to me as he always gave his advice continuously, and will always entertain me and motivate me when I feel despair. 

There are number of great leaders in civil service, who have good credibility in work, but they still make mistakes. It is alright to make mistake, because as a human we all do mistakes. But sometimes, the mistakes that we made will jeopardize our career as well as our credibility as a leader. Such mistakes are like sexual harassment and bribery. This kind of leaders will lose followers as followers expect their leader to be open, honest and ethical. 

As for me, I am still in the learning process of becoming a good leader to my subordinates in the organization. According to James D. Bruce, he frame what he knows about leadership as ‘who I am (be), what I know and can do (do), and what I need to know to continue to be effective (learn). To be an effective leader, we must act like a leader and always remember who we are. As a leader, we are the one, who make decisions on what to be done, how it is going to be done and ensuring that it is done. Leading is not about asking staffs to do certain things but deeply involved in achieving organization’s vision whether by monitoring results and showing them the right way of achieving it. Real leader will never run away from responsibility for mistakes. Therefore,  being a competent leader requires that we have the skills and knowledge to reach our goals. And of course, as a new leader, we must always be active learners about the technology, the organizations, the people, as the world is changing rapidly and our knowledge and skill today may become obsolete tomorrow.

Transformational Leadership is a style of leadership which the leader has integrity, sets clear goals, clearly communicates a vision, sets a good example, expects the best from the team, encourages, supports, recognizes good work and people, provides stimulating work, helps people sees beyond their self-interests and focus more on team interests and needs and of course, inspires others. This style of leadership seems perfect to me but of course, it requires efforts, patient, passions and never ever give up.  

After we have done all those things needed to be a good leader, how do we know that we have been a good leader? Here are questions that may be used in order to figure out whether the ‘right thing’ is being done.

  • "are we showing the right way, the right direction, the right vision?"
  • "are we doing the right thing in relation to furthering our mission, out purpose, our reason for existence, the service we provide?"
  • "are we doing the right thing in relation to the values, the guides for appropriate and inappropriate behavior?"
As I was looking for other sources to help us being a good leader, I came across this Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership by Kent M. Keith(1968) which for me, it sounded cynical but true. 

People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered.
Love them anyway
If you do good, people will accuse you selfish ulterior motives
Do good anyway
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow
Do good anyway
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable
Be honest and frank anyway
The biggest men and women with the biggest idea can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds
Think big anyway
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs
Fight for a few underdogs anyway
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight
Build anyway
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them
Help people anyway
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth
Give the world the best you have anyway
The world is full of violence, injustice, starvation, disease and environmental destruction
Have faith anyway

The journey to be a successful leader will never come in shape. We will find a lot of obstacles, problems or maybe people who pray for our failure. So, we need to be strong, keep on learning and improves our weaknesses. Never forget peoples who helped us throughout the journey. Always pray for Allah’s blessing and be grateful as nothing will happen without Allah’s will.

Me, Iacocca and a Cup of Coffee

Everybody needs a hero or an idol whom they can look up to or whom can inspire them to achieve what they want in live. I have started to realize my strength and weaknesses when I turned 15. I realized that I am not much of a talker and that I don’t have the ability to inspire people. I too realized that I am a slow learner (in which I blame my horoscope for that…J) and that I am not decisive when it comes to making decision. My heart easily melts to sob stories and that I am afraid to hurt other people’s feeling. But that slowly changed when I browsed upon the non-fiction section of my school library and accidently stumbled upon the book “Talking Straight” by Lee Iacocca and Sonny Kleinfeld.
Reading the book was a life turning experience for me. In the book, Iacocca related his experience in turning Chrysler, a company on the verge of winding up into a profitable business. I was inspired by his decisiveness and his ability to convince the Congress to give Chrysler a loan guarantee. That took a lot of gut and he definitely did not mince his words. Iacocca’s had inspired me and I have learned to be more decisive (and learned that my horoscope has got nothing to do with my indecisiveness…) and  I have learned that when it matters, you have got to make unpopular decision, if that decision will in turn help you to achieve your goals.
The book also introduced me to a new term that I did not know existed until then, crisis management. I have come to realize that crisis management is a process by which an organization deals with a major event that threatens to harm the organization, its stakeholders, or the general public. It is a management system that is developed for the purpose of diminishing potentially serious outcomes in certain targeted situations. In Chrysler’s case, hiring Iacocca was its initial response to the threat of going bust. 
I was also in awe of the fact that Iacocca joined Chrysler after he was fired from Ford in 1978. Chrysler had huge faith in him and was willing to risk everything that they have to hire him. As soon as he joined Chrysler, he began the rebuilding process from the ground up, laying off workers and selling loss-making divisions, as well as approaching the Congress for a loan guarantee. The move proved successful by which Chrysler was able to turn around its fortune quickly and was able to repay the government-backed loans seven years earlier than expected.
In work, my Secretary General inspires me. She has an analytical mind and is quick in making decisions. I also like the fact that she practises a flat management system, by which every officer in the Ministry has access to her and that tasks are assigned by her personally to respective officers without having to go through the chain of command. She feels that this move will speed up things as well as helps to cut red tapes inside the Ministry. Did I mention that she has an analytical mind? How did she do that? Through observing her, I have come to realize that she possess the speed reading skill. She can quickly read a proposal, paused for a while and quickly deliver a decision.
She is a marvel to watch when she’s working. I have had the honour to work under her tutelage on a few occasions and I have come to marvelled her more and more. True, I have come to witness her wrath on a few occasions, but upon reflecting the matter, I have come to realize that she was actually mentoring me and was trying to teach me the tips and tricks in work.
My Secretary General was also dead punctual, unlike many top government officials that I have met. If you tell her that the meeting would start at 8:30 am, she will be there by 8:15 am. When she was first promoted as Secretary General of the Ministry, she caught everyone by surprise. The previous practice was to notify the Secretary General that all the parties invited to the meeting had arrived and that she can start the meeting then, but she, on her first day of meeting, had arrived way earlier than the rest of members of the meeting. That day every single person in the room received a scolding from her and a lecture on time management.
Seeing my Secretary General made me realize that both she and my Minister had shaped the Ministry. Their enthusiasm drives the Ministry. Should my Minister failed to maintain her portfolio; I strongly believed that the Ministry focus and values would change. With each different leader, lies a different management style.
As much as I marvelled my Secretary General’s efficiency, I dreaded to think what fate will lie should I step into her shoes. Will I make a good Secretary General?  Will I be as efficient as her? These questions often wander around my mind. And because of this, I have come to analyze mistakes that leader’s do which eventually leads to their downfall or ineffectiveness. They are:
1)    Lack of communication skill. I have seen individuals with good management skills but failed to become great leaders. My Secretary General is one of the leaders blessed with good communication skills. She’s very friendly and has made friends along her way in becoming a Secretary General. And she had constantly pointed out the fact that as an officer, we have got to have good communication skills;
2)    Never forget who you were. In many occasions, leaders fall because they get big headed and arrogant as they reach certain stage. George W Bush’s tale is a glaring evidence of missed opportunities, aggravated by arrogance, unquestionable obstinacy and gross incompetence. As a leader, you should not forget who you were, remain focused on your work and deliver what you had promised;
3)    To err is human. As leaders, you have to make decisions daily. Sometimes you make good decisions and sometimes you make wrong decisions. When you have make a wrong decision, it is not the end of the world. If there is still avenue to rectify the wrong decision, please make a u turn. A good leader is not afraid to admit he’s wrong;
4) Don't just listen to the yes crowd. According to Iacocca, inquiry is the foundation of innovation. As a leader you got to have a face-to-face involvement with your employees and your customers;and
5) Treat your employees like they are a part of the family. Both Iacocca and Sam Walton believe in this. Treat your employees like they are a part of the organization and you will get the best out of them.
As I have explained in the beginning of my entry, my reading of Iacocca’s “Talking Straight”, had encouraged me to be more decisive when it comes to in making decision. I have also come to believe that as a leader you have to listen to the people under you and respond to their needs. This I learn after reading the book “Made In America” by Sam Walton.  As you can see through reading or learning about success stories from other leaders, you can learn a lot from their leadership style. Our former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is also one of the leader who reads a lot.
I also like to listen to motivational talks or speeches given by great leaders. I found them to be inspiring. Sometimes you don’t realize that you got it in you, that you remained normal and stale until somebody wakes you up and tell you straight in the face that you are ANYTHING BUT NORMAL.
I aspire to be a person who could change the world. The word world not literally, but according to my capacity as a leader of my unit perhaps, or an organization or at least my family. I certainly hope that by learning from the experience of other leaders, I would pick up pointers that even eventually make me a better person.


Saturday, 22 October 2011

My Own View of Leadership

My Own View of Leadership

When I first read the assignment given to me by Encik Shafiee bin Musa, I am surprise because I have to write down about the story of my own leadership and person that I admire in leadership. Honestly, I have been pampered by my parents since young because I am the youngest child in my family. They also have made a plan for me in the future. Other than that, my sister and brother are always there to assist me in my school homework and work chores. Because of that, I never bothered to thinks about myself. I never have a chance to be a leader to myself.

As time goes by, I have grown up and started to be independent. I have to plan for my own future and be more independent. On that point of time, I realise that I have matured and I have became a leader to myself. In my point of view, being a leader is also being a ‘khalifah’ to our own self. This is because we make a lot of decisions every day. We decide what kind of attire would we wear? We decide which way are we going to use to the class? We decide how to spend our money? All this kind of decision is part of what we decide every day. Therefore, every person in the world is a leader to themselves. But, to be a good leader to other persons required a lot of charisma.

            My own experience about leadership started when I was in secondary school. I lead a few clubs in my school while I have been appointed as a secretary and a treasurer. But at that point of time, I never have a good understanding the meaning of leadership. Then, I entered university, but I still don’t get enough expose about leadership even I went to a lot of leadership talks. The stories of my leaderships started when I was in government service working as an Administrator and Diplomatic Officer (PTD). I have an ambition to become a PTD after I graduated from University Malaya. The reasons why I chose to be a PTD is because the chance to learn different kind of job scope while working as a PTD. But, I’m not aware that a PTD is also a leader or a head in unit. Once, I received the offer as a PTD, I have been placed at Prison of Department under Ministry of Home Affairs. I have no idea on how it looks like working in the Prison of Department. The first day of work, I have been introduced to my subordinates and staffs that are in charge under me. Starting from that day, I know that I have to lead the unit to make sure that the unit will always perform in the department.

            Working as a PTD in the Prison of Department has taught me a lot of thing especially how to be a good leader. At first, it is very difficult but, it becomes easier after you get used to it. The best part of becoming a leader is when you are successful in your work and you share it with your subordinates and staffs. The best thing I learned is being a leader does not make you the only decision maker. But, a good leader will listen to your subordinate and staff’s input in making sure that the decision made by you is right. Therefore, I would prefer to discuss a lot with my staff rather than making a decision in hurry.

            Everybody will admire someone in their life to inspire them. Admiring someone will give you strength to succeed in your career. Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad is one of my favourite’s leaders. He deserves to be called as a leader because he posses charisma as a leader. Wikipedia states leadership as a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task. While the Collins English Dictionary Year 2008 mentions that leadership is the position or function of a leader, the period during which a person occupies the position leader and the ability to lead. A journal of Leadership: An Islamic Perspective by Dr. Rafik Issa Beekun and Dr. Jamal Badawi, states that leadership in Islam is a trust (amanah). It represents a psychological contract between a leader and his follower that he will try his best to guide them, to protect them and to treat them fairly and with justice.

            Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad was born on 10 July 1925 at Alor Setar, Kedah. Tun Mahathir received his early and secondary education at his home town. He entered King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore in 1947. Upon graduation, he joined the Malaysian government service as a Medical Officer. He left the career to set up his own practice in Alor Setar. He has been appointed as a 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia on 16 July 1981 until he resigns on 31 October 2003. He has become a Prime Minister of Malaysia for 22 years. He is the Prime Minister of Malaysia with the longest service in the country. He is also a brave person who never afraid to express opinion to the world.

            Dr Mahathir has been associated with the development of mega project such as Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC), Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC). Other than that, he is also responsible in giving the idea to build Putrajaya. Putrajaya has become one of the Malaysia landmarks in the world. Mahathir has a vision to make sure Malaysia is known by the world. He is also known as a Father of Modernisation Malaysia because of all his contributions.

The reasons why I chose him as my favourite leader is because the knowledge, the bravery and the encouragement he has in dealing with the financial crisis in Malaysia. Malaysia experienced a financial crisis in 1997 and 1998. The crisis also has a bad impact to Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. The depreciation of bath in Thailand is to be said as the main trigger to this problem. This also has lead to the loss of foreign investors in Malaysia. But, Tun Dr Mahathir has come out with a good solution. Malaysia is able to revive the economy without the assistance and financial debt fund International Monetary Fund (IMF) because of the action taken by him. Those are the steps:

      i.        Government has established the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) to solve this economic crisis.
    ii.        The ringgit has been pegged to the value of RM 3.80 to USD $ 1, while the Malaysian currency exchange rates of foreign currency to the value of another, depending on the ratio of U.S. dollars.
   iii.        Malaysian government has acted quickly to freeze-owned Ringgit foreign investors in Malaysia.
   iv.        Government does not receive financial assistance from the IMF funds despite the offer of U.S. $ 17 billion provided to countries in need.

All the actions taken by Tun Dr Mahathir has help Malaysia to survive and recover from the financial crisis in 1997 and 1998. From the above story, I would say that Tun Dr Mahathir is a brave person and will always confidence in what he has decided. I also believe that he knows the best to protect our country. Even on the financial crisis, most of the countries accepted the IMF assistance, but Malaysia chose to decline it. He shows that a leader should also has a good knowledge in how to manage the economy. Even though, he is a medical student, but he still knows the best in making decision on the economy and financial crisis.

            Leadership is such a huge and heavy responsibility. A leader is not only about being a famous person, but it is about the ‘trust’ (amanah) that you have to lead and bring it to the right path. To be a good leader, I believe that 7 characters of a good leader by Tun Dr Mahathir should be followed by the leaders. The first character is a good leader may not be humble but at least he should not be boastful. The second character is a leader must be prepared to accept responsibilities but should not be too pushy and insistent on taking the lead. In other words, a leader should prepare for any responsibility but he must know how to delegate it to the right party. While, the third character is a leader should not seek to blame others for failures but to admit his own culpability. He should not point fingers or seek scapegoats. A leader should also take responsibility for anything happen by not blaming others. The forth character is a leader should be modest and not seek praise and glory. The fifth character is a leader should know how to handle his followers as much as his superiors. He must be sensitive to the sensitivities of others. The sixth character is a leader should be willing to do what he expects others to do. He should uphold the slogan of leadership by example. Last but not least is a leader should be learned and more intelligent at least by comparison of the people he leads.
As from my point of view, I believe that a leader should change the way of leadership. A Leader tends and prefers to answer question or giving instruction to others instead of asking question. Based on the book title Just Ask Leadership by Gary B.Cohen, the author states that a leader should change the way of leadership. Previous, leader will only give instruction to others. But nowadays, a good leader should ask question to the staff so that it will build the creative and innovative thinking among the staff. A leader should give an opportunity to the staff by listening to their input. This kind of leadership will also build up the teamwork spirit. Discussion with the staff is also will let the staff to give contribution to the decision making. But, the last decision will be decided by you as the leader. From the Islamic perspective, discussion or musyawarrah is a good method in making decisions.

In conclusion, you are the one who can decide what kind of leadership you want. A leader is not just a name, but it brings together the huge and heavy responsibility. All human being is a leader or khalifah in this world. It is depends on the person how to shape the leadership. There will always challenges in a leadership. Therefore, a leader should always be prepared mentally and physically. Timbalan Ketua Pengarah Perkhidmatan (Operasi) once said that a new young leader should always move faster. There are three steps of lane in service. The first one is by using cash, the second is using the touch n go card and the last and the fastest is by using the smart tag. It depends on you to choose the best lane in order to succeed in civil services. Before I end my story, I would like everyone to appreciate this quote,

‘A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see.’

Leroy Eimes

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

My Leadership Story

One fine morning 3 years ago, while having our breakfast, I had a conversation with my father. He did ask me “you will graduate in few months away, what would you like to do after you have graduate? Would you like to work straight away or taking a break and go for holiday?” It takes a moment for me to answer his question. After a while, I told him I would like to find a job right after I finished my study as I don’t want to waste any of my time. Only then he suggested me to apply for Administrative and Diplomatic Officer post through Public Service Commission. So I did that. I went for exams, PTD Assessment Centre (PAC) and interview carried out my parents hope. Well I can say it is my father’s hope actually and I succeeded with first attempt. I am so happy that I have made it and with that here I am today working as Administrative and Diplomatic Officer just like what my father want. Two years experience working as Administrative and Diplomatic Officer, it gives me a huge exposure in leadership skills and leadership style.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Great Leader Are Made, Not Born”? I am very sure all of you do hear it before. Today, I am going to write about leadership stories that inspire me. Leader and leadership are two words that we often heard in our life. But what do these two words mean? Does anybody know? If not, let me tell you what does it means. Leader means ‘one who influences or leads others’. Meanwhile leadership refer as ‘a process of organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal’. As you can see there are so many leaders in the whole world who contribute to their nation with various kinds of contributions. I myself admire Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, former Malaysia Prime Minister as he is a great leader who gives a huge impact to me and other citizen of Malaysia.

People out there; let me tell you briefly about Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. He was born on 20th December 1925 in Alor Setar, Kedah. He received his early education from Government English School in 1932. He later enrolled as medicine student at the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore and graduated on 1953. He started his work as the doctor in Alor Setar and later on actively joined in political career until he was appointed as forth Prime Minister of Malaysia on 16th July 1981 until he is retired on 31st October 2003. We were so lucky to have Tun Dr. Mahathir as Prime Minister of Malaysia. Why? It is because in 22 years of his glory governance, he shows his powerful leadership in bringing Malaysia to the top of the world. He was also known as someone who is knowledgeable with great communication skills, outstanding, coherent with his firm stands, someone who thinks ahead and outside the box, full with vision and down to earth kind of person. He announced Vision 2020 on 1991 which aim Malaysia to become a fully develop country within 30 years time. The targets would require average approximately seven per cent economic growth of gross domestic product per annum. A lot of other countries come to Malaysia and do foreign direct investment as they see the potential that we have. Besides that, during Tun Dr. Mahathir governance, there were many major infrastructure projects that have been initiated by him such as Multimedia Super Corridor, the development of Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur Twin Tower, Kuala Lumpur Tower, Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Sepang International Circuit for Formula One Grand Prix and so on. During the world economic recession on 1998, the value of Ringgit Malaysia plummeted due to currency speculation, lost of foreign investment, and the main stock exchange index fell by over 75 per cent. To overcome this problem and to minimize bad impact to Malaysia he decided to fix the ringgit to the US dollar and increased the government spending. Even though the decision taken has been criticize by a lot of countries and from IMF itself but obviously the act taken was right. Among Southeast Asian countries, Malaysia was the first country who recovered from the economic crisis. With all those achievements, he had show to the world that he is the right leader for Malaysia and Malaysian. His 22 years glory as Malaysia Prime Minister gives me an inspiration to become successful in my career. I have learned through his leadership that we must have confidence and optimism in whatever we do even people is underestimate us. We also should be a brave risk taker if we believe what has we done is on the right path. If we do not succeed in whatever we do, do not give up and stop trying. We need to try until success is in our grasp.

With all the characteristic of Tun Dr. Mahathir which I learned through my observation, I used it during my daily work life. I used to work with one of the agencies under Prime Minister Department before I came here as a participant of ‘Diploma Pengurusan Awam’ course for six solid months. In my organization that I used to work before, there is collaboration between the leader, higher management and supporting staff. The leader of my organization is someone who is open minded and accepts opinion from the staff meanwhile the staffs of my organization are also open for changes. So as what I see all the great ideas in my organization are come from the leader and the culture in the organization itself.

However, at times we can see that leaders also made mistakes in their decision making neither in the big issue nor in the small issue as they are also human being. I myself think there are few mistakes that leaders often do. One of it is due to lack of knowledge or information regarding certain issue. Sometimes leaders need to decide in advance on certain issue like crisis management but because of lack of knowledge or information, the decision that has been made turn to be a bad decision and give less benefit to the organization. Besides that, at times leaders do not stick to his or her decision that has been made by them. This situation maybe happened because leaders themselves do not confident with their own decision. Other than that, leaders sometimes made the decisions which not represent the importance of all people or staff.

Maybe we are far from being great leaders like Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Sir Wilson Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher or any other great leaders but we can develop leadership skills from now on. To develop leadership skills, first we must know ourselves by determine what value and skills that we have. Later on we need to develop ourselves. There is various ways to develop ourselves. One is find a good mentor who has the competencies you wish to develop and have wide experience and knowledge. He or she will give you guidance and help you to build your confidence in your skills and abilities.

Besides that, we need to increase our professionalism. Great leaders are professionalism. Professionalism involves high standard of knowledge and skills, integrity, efficiency and no unnecessary hype. We need to work well with others. Be assertive, listen actively, consult effectively, be a team player, help others achieve and recognise success. We also must read a lot of leadership books and attend leadership courses to build up leadership skills in ourselves. Other than that, we also can read the biography of great leaders to boost up our spirit to become a great leader.

Once again, whoever your idol is or great leader you are adore of, let’s follow their footsteps and made legacy to our beautiful and lovely country, Malaysia.

Resources :

Byham.W.C, Smith A.B. & Paese M.J. (2002). Grow Your Own Leaders. New Jersey : Prentice Hall

Smith S. (1997). Be Your Best. London : Quest Worldwide Education Ltd

My Leadership History and Influence

First of all, I would like to congratulate Puan Hal Mahera because of her brilliant idea on deciding to use blog as the medium for DPA participants to submit their assignment. This is the out of box way of thinking compare to conventional way to submit assignment and it also encourage those who are not familiar with blog to learn little bit on how to operate blogs and posting articles and comments. Beside, those who are already good in blogging can show their talent on posting their articles in this blog.

At first place, i am in dilemma in choosing which leader i need to discuss on. In my mind, i respect most is Tun Mahathir. Tun bring me into civil service and because of Tun I decided to join PTD. Tun has proven that Malaysian can achieved a world class achievement if we really work hard, work smart, think global and has vision in mind.

However, I don’t intend to discuss about Tun Mahathir because I believed all Malaysian and people around the world already recognize his leadership and contribution. I want to talk about my ex-boss in Treasury. Her name is Puan Hazanah bt. A. Bakar previously she is HRD Section Head and Timbalan Setiausaha Bahagian in Bahagian Dasar Saraan, Wang Awam dan Khimat Pengurusan (JUSA C). I started joined Treasury in Mei 2009 and i was placed at HRD Section under Puan Hazanah. My first day in Treasury is like normal first working day for others. My second day in Treasury is lovely when Pn Hazanah want to see all new staffs in Treasury. At that time I still in Treasury pool and waiting for the posting in Treasury. In my mind i hope that i will be posting at Budget Division because previously i was at Jabatan Akauntan Negara as Assistant Acountants since 2003.

Meeting with Puan Hazanah for the first time has sparked me on how good is she in her HR field. She manages to handle meeting very well and exiting. She told to all new staffs that she want all new officers would continue PTD legacy, in order to be the premier post and continue serve the nation with brilliant ideas and contributions. Her opening speech makes me change my mind not asking to be place at Budget Division. Pn Hazanah has explain on how important PTD post in government. She claims that PTD need to ensure all Government plan whether it is big or small, important or not must be fulfil and accomplish in no matter what by PTD. PTD need to bring the impact to the government programs and the impact definitely will give benefit to Malaysian as a whole.

Pn Hazanah in that meeting decided to bring more male officers in HR Section since the Section is lack of male officers. And as what she plans, finally on the next day i received my posting letter to HR Section. I received the decision in open heart and believe that PTD can adapt all kind of task given. As a leader, we need to take risk.

My life in HR Section started with Ministry 5S preparation. Pn Hazanah has appointed me as secretary in Treasury 5S Training Committee. My task is managing, planning and conducting 5S training for Treasury staffs. The trainers are from Malaysian Productivity Council (MPC). The task is a bit challenging since 5S is something new for me and i have my own task in HR Section. Finally, with support from Pn Hazanah, i manage to handle 5S visit by MPC representative and for the second year Treasury is awarded with 5S certificate renewal. This is my accomplishment since i just join this ministry.

In June 2009, Pn Hazanah again appointed me as emcee for Treasury APC Award 2008. I never do any emcee job in my life and at first place i keep asking why she chooses me. She never know me before and definitely she has make mistake since i never had an emcee experience before. Pn Hazanah gives me support and she believes on my ability and always advice me to do new things in life. She said that by keep on doing new things will increase my confident level and knowledgeable. I finally take that challenge and Alhamdulillah I finally managed to deliver nicely and I really appreciate on what Pn Hazanah has told me and from that moment I started believe on my hidden ability. My confident level and leadership has increase since i have tried things that I never did before.

Furthermore, Puan Hazanah has discuss with her immediate bos and decided to appoint me as Treasury Sports and Recreations Club secretary. Again I feel shock and disbelieve on what she has plan for me. As a young officer, I just accept it and started to do my work as Club Secretary.

I started feel that Pn Hazanah is in the process of grooming me as young PTD. All her decision is to give me exposure on new things beside my routine job in HR Section. I personally admire her way of leadership. She has vast experience and always encourage people like me to try new things and not afraid to take challenges. She always tells us during her early service as PTD and what she had done and achieved previously. Her way of leadership make me put full respect towards her and willing to contribute to the maximum effort to government.

In other scenarios, leader especially in Civil Service always trapped with the important decision in their daily activities. I see leader always trapped in dilemma to make decision. In this global era, Civil Service need to be more proactive, bold and take risk in making decision. We need to compete with private sector and at the same time full fill what public need.

I take disciplinary action towards staffs for an example. We as leaders are afraid to take stern action for those who clearly do serious offences like fail to do task given, absent for many days and even months and not performing up to the standards. Leaders with lack of confident and afraid to take action to those who are not performed would jeopardise and affect the government plans to develop this nation.

I always believe in ensuring grow and develop as a leader, we need to put intention to be a good leader as first priority. In order to be agood leader, we need at all time acquire new knowledge and information. As what YBhg TKPPA(O) said, as a leader, we should learn new things at all time. We need new information to enhance our leadership. Beside, leader also needs to have very good attitude and be honest in doing things. Leader also needs to have good analytical and intellectual capacity to do analysis and judgement in doing things. Leader also needs to have the ability to influence and collaboration. This ability will help leader to influencing and inspiring people in achieving task given. In addition, leader must have the ability to motivate people to achieving results.