LEADERSHIP cannot be defined. What we can do is look at great leaders, the way they lead their lives and their qualities. Then we pull out these qualities and say this is what a leader looks like.”
That was how Nilai University mechanical engineering diploma graduate and author of The New Generation of Leadership: Transforming Ordinary Young People into Outstanding and Growing Leaders Nelson David Bassey described leadership.
Nelson’s motivational skills and ability to connect with students caught the attention of SMK Sultan Abdul Samad, Petaling Jaya principal Saraswathy Naranasamy who invited him to conduct a leadership workshop for her students.
Naranasamy said she had read the book and was impressed with the way it could resonate with youths, thanks to the simple English used and compelling content.
She said Nelson, as a young author, is a role model for young people.
“Nelson has shown initiative, leadership, talent and teamwork in writing this book,” she added.
The book was officially launched at the same event.
Meanwhile, the students clearly enjoyed the workshop as loud laughs and voices filled the air.
Fifth former Ahmad Ridhwan Ahmad Ismat said he learnt self-improvement and to not fear mistakes.
“We should admit when we’re wrong and have the courage to change ourselves,” he said.
Throughout the workshop, Nelson referred to a person’s ability to be a leader as a seed.
“If you take that little seed and put it in the soil, then in the right environment and the right condition, that seed will germinate into a great tree,” he said.
Nelson said he wanted to reach out to the young as they were easier to mould compared to adults who are mostly set in their ways.
“When I see young people, I see them as a blank sheet of paper. We can guide them on how to fill up that paper with something great.
“By teaching secondary school students leadership principles, they will have this knowledge in them and can start building a great future by the time they get to college or university,” he said.
Nelson shared that at the beginning of his varsity life, he was very shy and barely interacted with others.
He spent his days in lectures before heading back to his room to bury his face in books.
“I thought it was good to do well in my studies and paid attention only to it, ignoring everything else,” he said.
However in 2011, after an inspiring conversation with a friend, he changed his attitude and decided to pursue his unknown passion — leadership.
Although he may be on his way to becoming a renowned speaker, Nelson chose to continue his degree in mechanical engineering.
This may be a baffling decision to many but Nelson’s explanation struck a chord with many of today’s youths who choose to study one thing but change paths when it comes to their career.
“Life can be sectioned into three parts. I believe that each of us have these parts. We have a profession, a career and a business.
“Business is what puts money in our pockets. A career is what we pursue in school. Our profession is what satisfies the fire in our belly and comes back to our passion.
“Leadership satisfies the fire in my belly but my career is in mechanical engineering. So I will get a mechanical engineering degree but will focus more on my leadership development training.”
The 23-year-old Nigerian is so passionate about leadership that he started writing the book on this topic while still pursuing his diploma.
He first approached his mentor and Nilai University Faculty of Engineering dean Prof Dr Logeswaran Rajasvaran two years ago to help polish his draft.
Prof Rajasvaran was impressed that a diploma student was already in the midst of authoring a book and said he was more than happy to lend a helping hand.
“We wanted it to be an easy read so that anyone could follow the steps to become a good leader,” said Prof Rajasvaran.
Nelson also reached out to Mindvault Sdn Bhd chief executive officer David Oh to be another mentor and to guide him to become a better leadership speaker.
“This book captures the essence of what Nelson has gone through, what he believes in and how he has grown,” said Oh.
“As an author myself, I have an intimate understanding of how hard it is to come out and publish a book,” he added.The book is written together with Prof Rajasvaran and motivational speaker Sarah Michel as contributors.
REBECCA RAJAENDRAM The STAR Home News Education April 27, 2014