Dr M teaches student leaders about leadership at symposium

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during the 10th University Scholars Leadership Symposium 2019 in Shah Alam August 2, 2019. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during the 10th University Scholars Leadership Symposium 2019 in Shah Alam August 2, 2019. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

SHAH ALAM, Aug 2 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today literally gave a lesson on leadership to a gathering of student leaders from around the world.

Addressing over 1,000 international student leaders at a symposium here, he resembled a teacher guiding students one step at a time through a course.

“Firstly, a leader must have integrity and honesty as without them, the leader will be corrupt and untrustworthy.

“Next, the leader must be willing to work hard and to have pride in their work. Apart from that, a leader must have the hunger for knowledge and be aware of the changes around him, he said.

The young audience at the 10th University Scholars Leadership Symposium 2019 which the 94-year-old Dr Mahathir opened at the Setia City Convention Centre (SCCC) was indeed captivated.

Education Minister Maszlee Malik and secretary-general of Humanitarian Affairs Asia Kim Solomon were also present at the event.

Dr Mahathir said that to become real leaders, “we need to ensure that we stick to the noble values while keeping up to date with the changes that are affecting us.

“Indeed, being a good leader is not only about being intelligent but one who needs to know and to have the ability to differentiate between right and wrong, good and evil.”

The Prime Minister said that everyone is a leader at some point of time in their lives.

“One is a leader if one has younger brothers and sisters; one is a leader if one is a club president or the captain of a football team. And when we start working, of course, we will start at the very bottom and have many seniors to report to, but we will eventually climb the employment ladder and end up as leaders.

“In other words, leadership is a lifelong task of learning and experience. The issue is how we fare as a leader. What kind of impact do we make and how much of our leadership touches the lives of others. These are essential concerns and ideals that a leader should know and address.

“An effective leader must possess certain basic qualities and subscribe to certain values. He or she must possess qualities that other people hold in high regard and they would then be inclined to follow. A leader should lead not just by words but more effectively by example,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the attributes of a good leader are many and numerous books on leadership have been written and are available, and one can read about leadership on the Internet and find lots of information and articles on how to be a good leader.

“To me, leadership is not rocket science. It is about everyday values,” he said.

On the need to be aware of the changes around one, Dr Mahathir said this is especially true when faced with technological advancements and the disruptions they cause because a leader oblivious to these changes will not be able to impress upon the nation on the need to keep abreast and, in effect, the nation will lag behind and eventually become backward. .

Knowledge is never static but infinite and that the more one seeks it, the more one realises that there is so much more to learn, he said, adding that one should be humble and generous in seeking and sharing knowledge.

“Another value that is probably underrated is humility. Without it, ego is what that drives the leader. Of course, there are those that argue that ego can be positive as it makes a leader determined and competitive. But ego, as we understand, can be equally disruptive as it tends to make a leader unable to accept criticisms and opinions that differ.

“Being humble does not make a leader weak. Instead, it binds him with the people, those who supported him and made him their leader. If a leader loses touch with his people and supporters, he ceases to be a leader.

“Suffice to say, all the values that have been impressed in our religion, culture and customs will keep a leader’s feet firmly on the ground,” he said. — Bernama

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