4 Inspiring Examples Of True Leadership From Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
May 16, 2018 | BY Lily Ong
Last Wednesday, Malaysians voted in a new government to rule the country. At the centre of this historical change for Malaysia was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who made a stunning comeback to politics after stepping down 15 years ago. There are many things to learn from this nonagenarian, whose victory is proof that age is not a detriment to success. Here, we observed and picked out four exemplary leadership qualities from the oldest Prime Minister in the world as he now leads the country's transition to a new future.
Guts And Grit In The Face Of Adversity
“Guts is a commodity that is scarce in this country,” said this indefatigable leader to the press last week.
Throughout the years, Tun Dr Mahathir was levelled with criticism for his assertive leadership, with labels such as autocrat and dictator being hurled at him for his indomitable will and often hard-hitting ways of getting things done.
Yet, the statesman shrugged off the criticisms because he was motivated by a singular goal he has often repeated in his public speeches—to restore good governance and rule of law to the country. This goal sustained him through his rollercoaster journey back from retirement to once again taking the helm of the country’s administration.
Listen Carefully To Your People
“For a dictator, I am a good listener,” the larger-than-life politician remarked wittily during a press conference after his Pakatan Harapan coalition was declared the winner at the recent elections. The chairman of the Pakatan Harapan coalition is spearheading change in the country by managing 'a motley of parties' beneath him from four different idealogies. This is seen as a difficult task.
Yet, despite the odds, he has shown an aptitude for embracing input, especially from youthful voices in in his own coalition like Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman and Fahmi Fadzil, who spoke up about how Tun Dr Mahathir would often ask for insights during meetings. This important trait has helped him become the formidable leader he is today.
Communicate With Clarity And Conviction To Your Stakeholders
Tun Dr Mahathir knows who his stakeholders are. It is the people who believed in him and voted him back into the premiership of the country. With this, he tailored his message to his stakeholders.
In the campaigning season, Tun Dr Mahathir crisscrossed Peninsular Malaysia for rallies and speeches. Known for his wit and humour in both English and Malay, he consistently drove home a message of reform and described his hope for the nation’s return to glory as an economic powerhouse.
He also simplified complex issues like how alleged corruption and abuse of power have affected our nation’s economy in layman terms to make a case to the people on why a change is necessary.
A night before Election Day, thousands of Malaysians watched as he spoke about his hope for a new, reformed Malaysia—a heartfelt, powerful speech that no doubt tipped the scale in his favour—when Malaysians went out to vote the next day.
Keep Calm and Lead On
Even after he was sworn into the Prime Minister office, Tun Dr Mahathir continued communicating with the public—through press conferences and statements—on the initiatives by the new government, from investigating corruption to overhauling the nation’s financial health spending.
Yet, despite the uncertainty and weight on his shoulders, Tun Dr Mahathir displayed a patience that reminded us more of a grandfather than a ‘dictator’. At every public appearance he makes, he answered questions about the state of the nation’s economy and politics with calmness and confidence.
While he is aware that his stakeholders are hoping he could solve the nation's issues quickly, he has expressed that every decision he makes must adhere to the rules of law. “Everything takes time, even answering you takes time,” was his response to a reporter’s query on his initiatives. Spoken like the wise leader he is.
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