March 14th, 2015

What makes a person a great leader


A FEW days ago, I went to my favourite bookstore located at one of the shopping malls in the city. I wanted to buy a book on the subject of either leaders or leadership, or both.

Obviously, leadership and leaders have become the everlasting subjects that are written on and discussed extensively by many consultants, authors, writers, academics and others. Many dictionaries define "leader" as a person who leads a group of people, especially the head of a country or an organization. As for leadership, different people or organizations define or explain it differently to suit their own objectives or goals. While reading a newspaper quite some time ago, I came across an advertisement by a private university which defines leadership as the capacity to excel by taking calculated risks. It also offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Leadership as one of its academic programmes.

Many of us may ask what makes a person a great leader? After reading and studying several books on the subject, I can safely say that such a person is one who can acquire the combination of some of the following qualities:

Good Communication Skills -- A leader should be able to communicate in simple language with the people. Thus, the communication process isn’t complete until the audience has both listened and understood the delivered message. It cannot be denied that effective communication skills are integral to any working partnership, team or personal relationship. Therefore, it is correct for us to say that good communication skills are one of the building blocks of being a leader.

Courage -- It is the ability to do something dangerous, or to face pain or opposition, without showing fear. It is largely a positive habit and involves self-confidence, and is surely a valuable commodity either on the battlefield or in the boardroom. The late General George S. Patton, Jr., was a good example. He was one of the most decorated American heroes during World War II. His courageous behaviour and character were exhibited during the war when he commanded the Third Army. He believed that courage could be learned, acquired through practice.

Pay Attention to Detail -- The lack of attention to detail can result in tragedy. According to Seth Godin in his book, Wisdom, Inc., the space shuttle Challenger exploded in January 1986 because a fifteen-cent rubber part did not function in unusually cold weather. Several brilliant scientists and astronauts were killed because this one tiny detail was overlooked by the leader who handled the project.

Problem Solving -- Every workplace will have some conflict, no matter how great the leadership team may be. A leader needs to identify the conflict as early as possible and determine what kind of conflict is involved and its underlying causes. A good leader will see that no party loses out in meting out the solution to the conflicting parties.

Build Relationships -- A leader should be able to build relationships with his people, based on trust. He should not put his self-interest before the interests of his people. Additionally, he should keep his promises and do what he says he will do. He needs to be in touch with, and sensitive to, other people’s feelings; be calm in a crisis and when under pressure; and, be honest and truthful. Another important attribute is that he should not take personal credit for other people’s work, and should always be fair.

Team-Builder -- An exemplary example here is Prophet Muhammad. He was a leader who knows how to get the best out of his principal lieutenants by understanding the true value of human resource. During his time, the governance in the consultative council comprised of Abu Bakar As-Siddiq, Umar Al-Khattab, Uthman Al-Affan, Ali bin Abi Talib, Zaid bin Thabit, Abdul Rahman bin Auf, Salmaan Al-Farisi and Ubaid bin Ka’ab. According to the Prophet, effective team-work stems from people complementing, rather than rivalling, each other or merely co-existing alongside one another.

Vision -- It is a common understanding that for a leader to effect positive change, he must have a picture of what improvement will look like. That improvement, on either a small or a grand scale, is called a vision. The leader with vision must have ideas on a few things for his people. These can include, but is not limited to, the direction in which he wants to lead; the things he and his followers tend to do or achieve; the improvement of his followers’ well-being and their environment. An equally important scenario is how to turn his ideas into reality; in other words, how to “make it happen”.

In conclusion, we can say that a great leader is comparable to an eagle. The eagle flies high, but not in flock, like most birds. Kamaruddin Hassan, Shah Alam, Selangor. The NST Letters 12 Mar 2015

Morals and ethics are key to transparent authorities

ETHICS and good moral values are essential if we are to have a clean, efficient and trustworthy administration.

Civil servants must develop a culture which will help pave the way for the emergence of not only a dedicated, efficient and ethical civil service but also one which gives emphasis on management integrity.

To achieve this objective, it is necessary to have a work culture which incorporates honesty, trust, discipline, responsibility and transparency.

While we welcome the incorporation of noble values in the civil service, what really is important in the final analysis is to ensure the practice of these noble values by all civil servants. Mere slogans and lip service are not going to help.

Corruption has been with us since the beginning of human organisation. Yet, we cannot be unconcerned and complacent about corruption because it attacks not only the economic and social fabric of society, but also the moral foundations of order.

Corruption is pervasive, affecting almost every aspect of life. From the person who wants his business application to be processed speedily to others who want to expedite their application for low-cost housing, bribery can take place. It manifests itself in so many other forms where the public interacts with the authorities.

It has been proven in many instances that an individual took bribes mainly because he is greedy and is presented with opportunities to commit corrupt practices. It is indisputable to state that greed is the motivating factor behind most, if not all, corrupt practices.

Officers involved in corrupt practices are mostly those in charge of law enforcement. To eradicate such practices, all law enforcement agencies should have an internal control system which can detect irregularities.

Efforts should continuously be made to instill integrity and ethical values, because persons of high integrity are not likely to commit corrupt practices in whatever circumstances.

Public administrators and all civil servants must discharge their duties with integrity and honesty besides being ethical and transparent.

I believe that the inculcation of noble and ethical values, accompanied by adherence to the oath of good governance are the most effective ways to fight corrupt practices in the civil service.

To fight corruption we need to build strong incentives which will subject corrupt practices to public scrutiny.

The information age is providing citizens and non-governmental organisations with powerful tools and information to combat local corruption. Likewise, the global economy puts tremendous pressure on local governments to rid themselves of factors that reduce their competitiveness. Corruption is clearly a factor that can and does reduce the attractiveness of one community over another.

The movement towards decentralisation, accountability and transparency at the local government level is gathering momentum. In this context, the enormous costs of corruption are being explicitly recognized, as is the urgent need to correct governmental malfeasance.

Corruption is an entrenched symptom of misgovernance, often reflected in patronage, red tape, ineffective revenue-generating agencies, large-scale bribery in procurement and failure to deliver services to city dwellers.

But, when local officials in charge of public resources are accountable to their citizens, decision-making can become participatory. In turn, a participatory process can be the cornerstone of a national strategy to reform “sick” institutions and improve the welfare of city dwellers.

The challenge facing local governments is to develop innovative ways of building effective, accountable, and transparent systems.

Cities implementing and sustaining accountable and transparent systems as well as good governance reform programmes benefiting the urban dwellers can expect to attract financial and human resources and become showcases of exemplary practices to be emulated nationwide.

In the final analysis, preventing corruption helps to raise city revenues, improve service delivery, stimulate public confidence and participation and win public support.

In line with the creation of transparent local authorities steps must be taken to instill moral and ethical values among their staff. This is essential as honesty, sincerity and discipline are important elements every civil servant must possess when discharging his or her duties to the public.

Morals and ethics are not only important to the civil service but also to all sectors of Malaysian society. This is because graft and other forms of malpractices are also evident in the corporate world, non-governmental organisations and even voluntary organisations.

The answer really lies in every Malaysian as to whether he or she is prepared to make honesty and integrity a way of life. Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye Kuala Lumpur The NST Letters 13 Mar 2015

KBAT diterapkan berasaskan fakta, logik

KBAT diterapkan secara intensif dalam PT3 2014

Kemahiran Berfikir Aras Tinggi (KBAT) yang diterapkan secara intensif dalam Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 (PT3) tahun lalu memberi impak positif kepada perkembangan dan persediaan pelajar menghadapi sesi pembelajaran berikutnya.

DARI kiri, Yap Quan You, Thun Chiean Tien, Kok Shew Juan danG Raveen gembira mendapat keputusan semua A bagi semua mata pelajaran dalam Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga (PT3) di Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar (MSAB), Johor Bahru.

Walaupun dianggap amat sukar berbanding soalan yang dibentuk untuk Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) sebelum ini, format PT3 mendorong pelajar meningkatkan usaha menambah ilmu di luar bilik darjah.

Buktinya, pelajar Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Chukai, Kemaman, Terengganu, Izzah Fatini Dzulkifli, 16, mengakui lebih mudah memahami ilmu disampaikan guru terutama bagi mata pelajaran Sains dan Matematik sebaik memasuki Tingkatan Empat.

Memperoleh gred B bagi dua mata pelajaran itu pada pentaksiran pusat PT3 tahun lalu, Izzah Fatini berkata, soalan yang dikemukakan benar-benar menguji mindanya melangkaui ilmu dalam buku teks.

“Semua 10 mata pelajaran termasuk lisan Bahasa Malaysia dan Bahasa Inggeris saya dapat A kecuali Sains dan Matematik. Namun, saya tetap syukur dan lega kerana subjek seperti Fizik, misalnya lebih mudah untuk saya disebabkan saya sudah terdedah dengan KBAT ketika PT3 dulu,” katanya.

Ibunya, Nor Faridah Zainal, 42, berkata dia tetap bangga dengan pencapaian anaknya kerana sedar soalan seumpama itu menjadikan Izzah Fatini lebih banyak mengulangkaji di rumah.

“Mengenalinya sejak kecil, dia memang gemar membaca, namun kebelakangan ini saya dapati dia juga kerap buat latihan. Kini, apabila berbual, dia cenderung kongsi idea yang pada saya lebih ke hadapan bagi remaja seusianya,” katanya.

Bagi Wong Shuu Shing, 49, soalan PT3 menjadikan anaknya berfikir secara lebih kritis dan kreatif, bukan sekadar mengulangkaji pelajaran berpandukan buku semata-mata.

“Menurut anak saya (Yap Quan You, 16), soalan PT3 sangat susah, namun mengejutkan juga apabila dia berjaya memperoleh 8A ketika mengambil keputusan.

“Anak mengakui Internet dan persekitaran banyak membantunya menjawab soalan dan bukan bergantung kepada pembelajaran dalam kelas serta buku saja,” katanya.

Wong berkata, tahun ini giliran anak bongsunya pula, Yap Quan Yei, 15, menduduki peperiksaan berkenaan dan dia selalu mengingatkan Quan Yei untuk fokus dalam kelas, banyakkan membaca dan kerap ulangkaji.

“Saya yakin setiap pelajar termasuk anak saya sendiri berupaya berfikir seperti seorang mahasiswa menerusi soalan KBAT yang terkandung dalam PT3 yang secara tidak langsung menjadikan mereka lebih berdaya saing,” katanya.

Berasaskan fakta, logik
Kandungan soalan berbentuk Kemahiran Berfikir Aras Tinggi (KBAT) dalam pentaksiran pusat di sekolah memberi lebih fleksibiliti buat murid untuk mengemukakan jawapan mengikut pemahaman masing-masing berasaskan fakta dan logik.

Mohammad Najib

Ketua Sektor Pembinaan Ujian Akademik (SPUA) Lembaga Peperiksaan Mohammad Najib Mohd Ali berkata, melalui huraian lanjut dalam jawapan, begitu mudah bagi murid memperoleh markah asalkan ia tidak bertentangan dengan fakta sebenar yang diajar menerusi sesi pengajaran dan pembelajaran (PDP).

“Hakikatnya masih ramai murid yang takut untuk menjawab soalan KBAT sedangkan inilah peluang mereka tunjukkan keupayaan berfikir menerusi jawapan masing-masing.

“Misalnya, soalan berbentuk pendapat yang bertanyakan sama ada murid bersetuju dengan kenyataan diberikan serta meminta mereka menyertakan alasan atas jawapan itu.

“Ada murid yang tiada keberanian untuk buat keputusan sama ada setuju atau sebaliknya. Akhirnya mereka biarkan saja soalan itu tanpa jawapan atau menjawab ala kadar dalam keadaan tidak yakin biarpun mereka sebenarnya boleh lakukannya dengan lebih baik jika ada keyakinan,” katanya.

Menurut Mohmmad Najib, murid seharusnya lebih bersedia menghadapi soalan KBAT memandangkan ia akan ditambah secara berperingkat dari semasa ke semasa.

“Seperti mana dinyatakan dalam Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan Malaysia (PPPM), sasaran kita adalah supaya 40 hingga 50 peratus soalan dalam setiap pentaksiran akan berbentuk KBAT menjelang 2016 berbanding sekitar 20 peratus ketika ini,” katanya.

Sementara itu, Ketua Penolong Pengarah Unit Kemanusiaan SPUA Lembaga Peperiksaan Mazelan Zamidi berkata, peranan semua pihak, khususnya ibu bapa diperlukan bagi membantu murid memperoleh ilmu daripada pelbagai saluran termasuk Internet untuk meningkatkan daya fikir golongan itu.

“Tempoh murid berada di sekolah dalam sehari cuma 27 peratus, manakala selebihnya bersama ibu bapa. Dalam tempoh bersama ibu bapa, sokongan ilmu sampingan yang diperolehi banyak membantu murid menerima ilmu dengan lebih baik di sekolah,” jelasnya.

Mazelan berkata, tanpa disedari penerapan soalan KBAT dalam pentaksiran juga banyak mempengaruhi elemen kemahiran lain, contohnya komunikasi.

Melalui huraian jawapan yang dipersembahkan, ia sedikit sebanyak membina kemahiran komunikasi murid untuk berdepan dunia luar yang lebih mencabar selepas tamat persekolahan atau ketika menghadiri sesi temu duga tertentu.

“Apabila murid perlu menunjukkan analisis yang dibuat dalam kertas jawapan, mereka sebenarnya sedang melatih kaedah terbaik menterjemahkannya dalam ayat yang paling mudah difahami pemeriksa dan ini juga salah satu medium komunikasi,” jelasnya.

Difahamkan, buku panduan pentaksiran KBAT sudah mula diterbitkan dan dijangka mula diedar ke semua sekolah seluruh negara mulai bulan depan.

Penerbitan buku itu menyediakan garis panduan yang boleh digunakan pihak sekolah, khususnya guru untuk menerapkan elemen KBAT dalam sesi PDP serta bagi penggubalan item pentaksiran.