A Lesson in Leadership

Strive towards being the change 

A lesson in leadership

Ikim Views
By IR AHMAD JAIS ALIAS, Fellow, Centre for Consultancy and Training, Ikim

Tuesday December 30, 2008 http://thestar.com.my/columnists/story.asp?col=ikimviews&file=/2008/12/30/columnists/ikimviews/2881682&sec=IKIM%20Views

The leadership model motor giant Toyota uses to propel itself to the forefront of the industry can also be a valuable lesson for our national leaders.

I ATTENDED a talk by Dr Habib Siddiqui from Merck & Co, US, on Business Management Strategy, where he shared his experiences gained from the American industry, and how to maintain competitiveness in these challenging times.

The talk was part of the continuous professional development programme organised by the Board of Engineers Malaysia for its members.

In his talk, Dr Habib elaborated on the Toyota Production System (TPS) which emphasised the role of leadership in the manufacturing system. In TPS, the leader should implement three major tasks; i) to go and see, ii) to ask why and iii) to show respect to others.

According to Dr Habib, these were the key tasks of leaders in the manufacturing plants, and by implementing the system, Toyota has emerged as one of the market leaders in the motor industry.

Let us examine each of the tasks. The first was for the leader to go and see for himself the actual conditions, problems or issues faced by staff members and consumers. A leader should not place a barrier between him and the people, or try to avoid meeting those under his/her leadership.

This is indeed very true. A leader should not lose touch with his staff members. He should always mingle with them and try to understand and appreciate their predicament.

A leader should not shy away from the public, or create an exclusive environment in which he only meets or mixes with certain elite groups only. Pemimpin berjiwa rakyat is perhaps the Malay phrase which best describes this.

The question is, do our leaders today really emulate this noble attitude? Have the plight of the people really caught their attention? Or are they too busy with their efforts to garner votes and support to ascend the leadership ladder? ………………………..

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