Sports captains, politicians, CEOs and the modern day leader

Sports captains, politicians, CEOs and the modern day leader

What is the definition of a great leader?

Is it the ability to gather a team to come from behind and muster an impossible victory, as Steven Gerrard did with his Liverpool Champions League comeback victory in Istanbul in 2005?

Is it the ability to rouse opinions and create factions in a country and instill belief so strong even the kindest of people will turn on themselves, as in the case of the Red-Army Leader Jatuporn versus the Anti-Government Leader Suthep in Thailand?

Or is it the person who hungers for perfection like the late Steve Jobs, who changed our lives inconceivably with iPhones and iPads and took Apple Inc. from less than USD10 per share in 2001 to more than USD400 per share before his passing in 2011?

Whichever way we look at it, leadership is in essence the process of social influence whereby one person successfully inspires the actions and support of others to accomplish a certain task. And the importance of the modern-day leader in the workplace cannot be underestimated.

In my opinion, the qualities of great leaders can be summarised into four areas:

1. Think big
Be forward-thinking and create an impossible dream. The mark of a strong leader is to have an almost naïve attitude towards achieving a goal, and a strong belief that it will be good even when signs are showing otherwise. Cue Steve Jobs, 09 January 2007 with the first iPhone.

2. Have a clear action plan
The next thing leaders need is a clear action plan on how to achieve their vision. This is their master strategy, a route, or a sequence of actions that will take us from point A to point B. It needs to also include ways to overcome obstacles along the way.

3. Lead from the front
Every successful leader in history leads from the front. No sports captains, politicians or army commanders lead from inside their offices – they lead on the field. Having no fear and the ability to “get down and get your hands dirty” with your people is one of the absolute requirements of the modern-day leader. An extreme example is anti-Government protest leader Suthep who refused to wear bulletproof vests when speaking on the rally stage in Bangkok.

4. Never give up
We’ve all heard the old adage of “never give up”, but not many people can truly master the meaning of it. The final piece of the leadership jigsaw is that a persistent – and insistent – attitude will pull everyone across the finish line. It’s when times are tough that you see the real leaders of the world stand up for what they believe in. Having an unbreakable faith and continuing when everyone else says “quit” is what will ultimately separate the leaders from the rest of the pack.

Cue Nelson Mandela, who served 27 years in prison for instigating the anti-apartheid movement before becoming the first black president of South Africa in 1994.

True leadership is an expensive commodity in today’s workplace and every organisation out there is looking for people who have the right aptitude and attitude to lead.

I started working with Appco Group Asia in 2002 as a fresh graduate with absolutely no experience, and my journey over the last decade has shaped me into who I am today and I am extremely thankful and proud of it.

If you want to find out more about how to develop your leadership potential, please visit our website to see how you can grow with us.

Wong Chee Wai is an Organisational Head with Appco Group Asia and the Country Head of Thailand.