Leadership Begins In The Family – Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz

By Asmahanim Amir
Pix Abd Ra’ai Osman

BANGI, 1 June 2015 – To become a good leader in society, one needs to show effective leadership at home, said stateswoman, former Minister and current Non-Executive Independent Chairman of AirAsia X Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.

She asked if the leadership at home does not reflect sound personality, how could one lead a nation?

“The first vital characteristic of good leadership is as a parent at home. Weak  leadership at home is not good for the family, let alone the country. Problems arising in the country now is not from the Government or the Prime Minister, but all of this started at home.

“Parenting is an important aspect of leadership in families, especially in the current situation. This is the key to everything in society and the nation because of its roots in family leadership in educating and raising families, which need more than developing a country,” she said when presenting her views at the Tun Fatimah Hashim Lecture: The Journey To Becoming a Leader, here on May 26.

The lecture was organised by the Tun Fatimah Hashim Centre for Women’s Leadership at The National University of Malaysia (UKM).

The former International Trade and Industry minister said parents need to encourage their children to accept that Malaysia is multi-cultural.

“Parents need to educate children to accept the differences between races, accept the fact that this is our motherland and must instil the spirit of nationalism in our children,” she remarked.

She said currently leadership in families have come to a critical stage because parents are always busy with their careers and they expect 100 percent education from teachers.

“A teacher needs to teach dozens of students. So they only teach, but the basic education is a parent’s responsibility. Don’t expect the school to do everything   because the children are at home more than at school.

“So we need to prioritise family leadership and after that we can talk about outside leadership,” she said.

She explained society views it desirable for one to be at a lofty position in any organisation while all decisions are made on the advice of subordinate officers.

“But nowadays, when we talk about leadership, we only think about politicians. Everyone wants to be a politician. In the private sector, we want to be a CEO (Chief Executive Officer), we want to become a board member because supposedly we want to be a leader who can make decisions.

“Actually the decisions are made by subordinates in each department. If the bottom makes a wrong decision, the strategy also becomes wrong and the CEO also makes a wrong decision. If the officers make a wrong analysis, the hypothesis will be wrong and the policy also can be wrong. So, the Minister will also make a faulty judgement.

“So, where is leadership? From the bottom right? You must get good specialists, good planners. Don’t aim to just become a minister,” she clarified.

She pointed out that to be a leader, one should have high integrity and discipline in carrying out the responsibilities.

“Leaders should be responsible, trustworthy and accountable. How to think, act and time management are the concepts of discipline every leader must have that can be an example to others,” she stressed.

She said leaders need not work hard but work smart in carrying out duties.

“Don’t be working frenetically with little to show for. Leaders need to be intelligent, dedicated and committed and there needs to be strong team players who can work together. A diligent leader is one who will be able to motivate his team players,” she explained.

Rafidah stressed that leaders cannot make comparisons with their subordinates but need to compare with those who are ahead of them.

“We will feel comfortable when we compare ourselves to people who are lower than us, while if we contrast with people who are better than us, we can see our shortcomings,” she said.

She also declared that every leader should be innovative and be smart and transparent in making decisions.

“Don’t wait for the government policy to change. Innovation is not a laboratory, but make incremental changes in leadership,” she said.

She said Malaysia must always have a leader with knowledge that is never outdated through time.

“Even after 10 years, the leader’s ideas are always relevant and can be used by the public. The knowledge that he has is not obsolete. That’s what leaders are supposed to be,” she added.