The West may offer a fast track to opportunities but impressive leaders are popping up in the world’s developing regions. Scott McCulloch reports.
There are leaders and there are great leaders.
The world’s libraries possess volumes on Caesar and Churchill, Napoleon and Nightingale, and countless of other greats.
Scholars have distilled essential qualities of leaders into categories of courage and clarity, passion and humility, and of course, decisiveness.
The likes of Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson come to mind when we contemplate today’s standouts.
Highly industrialized countries are opportunity factories, yet there’s a raft of rising stars in the developing world.
They are blessed with boldness, humility and the presence of mind to get things done.
One star is Ankiti Bose, a 27-year-old fashion maverick and India’s first woman to co-found a $1 billion start-up.
In four years, Bose has grown her Southeast Asian e-commerce site Zilingo into a global platform with 7 million-plus active users.
Bose says Southeast Asia has a wealth of creative entrepreneurs running small retail businesses, but many lack expertise in procurement.
They are tiny players up against huge international brands – a David versus Goliath story.
“That’s what resonated with me,” Bose explains.
Now there’s a statement loaded with optimism. And rightly so, says leadership expert Brian Tracy.
“Leaders are optimistic. They see possibilities in everything.
“Leaders are optimistic. They see opportunities and possibilities in everything that happens, positive or negative.”
They are visionary too. Take Byambajargal Ayushjav for instance. A believer in education, Ayushjav co-founded Faro Education, one of Mongolia’s largest language training school networks, in 2014.
She chose the name Faro, which means lighthouse in Spanish, to convey the company’s goal of being a beacon of light for promoting education in the country.
“Leadership is not about the title,” says Ayushjav, who was educated at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. “It is about creating positive impact.”
This, say leadership experts, shows focus and strong leaders focus on results, on what must be achieved – by themselves and by the company.
Courage is a key quality in leaders. That means being decisive and committed, an aspect high in demand for great leaders.
Courage goes hand in hand with consistency. Great leaders rarely back out or change their minds unless absolutely necessary.
When Qatari female jockey Maryam al-Subaiey galloped into the male dominated world of horse racing in 2017 her answer to critics was one of defiance.
“I don’t have to do things that society expects from me as a woman,” Al-Subaiey told AFP.
In 2016, she appeared on France 24 Arabic television to discuss how Qatari women view their role in society. There was a backlash as she appeared without a headscarf.
This year, Al-Subaiey, a women’s rights advocate, cracked Asia Society’s Asia 21 Young Leaders who’s who list.
Ever been inspired by seeing someone who cares deeply about what they do? Top leaders exhibit infinite energy and passion.
Pakistan’s Sana Mir is not shy about her love of cricket. Growing up in Pakistan, she was surrounded by some of world’s the best cricketers.
She began playing street cricket at the age of five. Yet something was absent: women. As she grew older, she played on boys’ teams.
It paid off. Mir joined the fledgling Pakistan women’s cricket team, became captain, and lead it to gold medal wins at the 2010 and 2014 Asia Games.
“As long as you are passionate about what you know, or care about, it'll shine through and people will follow,” writes leadership expert Peter Economy in Inc.
Which brings us to humility.
Yes, confidence is an attractive trait in leaders, but there’s nothing like a humble individual who can own up to mistakes and take criticism.
When John Riady, newly appointed CEO of Indonesia’s family-controlled Lippo property concern, recently said: “I think we need to do a better job of communicating our vision,” he won plaudits for his candour.
“Transparency and governance will be very important going forward,” Riady told the Nikkei Asian Review in a candid in interview last spring.
Good leaders are clear and concise. There is no question of their vision and what needs to be accomplished.
And they can be found in families all over the world.