I realized that all this time I was a good leader. At home I was a good leader to my brothers and sister. I am the second child out of eight siblings, even though I have an older brother but I still show an example to my younger siblings, and in the end all of us made it to a higher education. At work I’m a leader among my colleague, act as a course leader for certain courses, also a leader to my students, where I lead them to a brighter future. At the same time consult them, became an example to them, by showing the passionate character of a good chef in the kitchen.
The question of “what is my purpose in life?” always has mingled around my head since I’m still young. But now when everything has come to my senses, my answer to that question is “Life is about making decisions”. It doesn’t matter who you are or anywhere you go, some how or rather you have to make a decision. It doesn’t matter whether your decision is a good one or not, but still the decision has to be made. My point here is that decision making is part of an ability that determine the quality of a leader, but even an average ‘Joe’ can make his own decisions, so it shows that every one have a potential to be a leader, depends on whether they are a good quality leader or just an average ‘Joe’.
The significant of decision making and leadership are inline that determine the quality of a leader. In order to make the right decision the leader should have the competence, and a balance of emotional and rationality thinking, in order to decide and solve problem. In congestion with that other element should also be consider such as courage, commitment, positive attitude, self-discipline and the ability to make a decision based on their vision in order to achieve a common goal.
My personal philosophy of leadership is that it’s a process which an individual ability to do things in order to achieve a common goal. Why I say that is when you have a vision or a common goal it become a process where each individual attitude in the group or an organization have an important part to play, or participate in order to achieve that vision or common goal. To me each individual are leaders, but in deference perspective. A follower can also be a leader among followers, and if the leadership qualities are very good the follower can also lead a leader. Like I said before it depend on the individual attitude. All leaders should have the qualities of a leader. One of the first steps you need to take to become a leader is to work on improving yourself individually. The good thing is that a lot of information is available to work on ourselves and leaders we want to be. You can always surf the net, just type leadership, and all the qualities of a leader will appear in front of you, it’s a matter of how you change your self.
To me, what has influenced or shaped my values and philosophy of leadership, both positively and negatively is my experience and my education all these years. I’m not saying that I became a great leader over night, but in certain ways it opened up my eyes a bit. In a positive aspect I see that all these time that I’ve lived my life I have always been a leader in my own way. When Dr Artinah explain to me about her own definition of leadership it brings me flash backs to the days when I was in middle school, during those days I was actively involved in school co-curriculum which is scout, I was a petrol leader, I remember when my teacher told me to give command to the whole troops because our troop leader had other responsibility to do, it was my first time giving a command, so I shouted “baris masuk baris” and with out any delay all the troops was in line. At that time I though I was a good follow since I got the instruction from my teacher to give a command, but then again when I think about it maybe its me, because of my voice, and I shouted the command firmly.
I don’t know whether this is a positive influence or a negative influence but I just want to share the story. It was during my diploma studies at UiTM it was the first day of kitchen class. When En. Tuan Ahmad told the class to select a class representative for the class; we hardly knew each other, maybe some of them I knew during orientation week. But when our class seats together and they all select me, at that time I felt why me, but I don’t show that. So when I was selected I went to see En Ahmad, and ask him what my tasks are as a class representative. So he gives me all the instructions. So from that, I deliver the instruction back to my class mates, and in the end they all follow my instructions. At that time I also felt that I was just a follower that follows the lecturer instruction.
Then during my working day now it happened again. Last year before the new head of department for food studies department was employed, I was the acting head of food studies department for six month. At first I thought I could not take the responsibility, but it’s just my attitude, I always follow orders. So when the Dean empowered me as the acting head of food studies department, I take it as a positive thing, even though in my head negative things was swirling around. In the end I manage to lead a department meeting every month, giving out workload to my fellow colleagues, there were a few miss understanding among us but the problem was under control. Lastly after six month I was glad when the new head of department was hired.
What I’m trying to explain with my experience are the dynamics of me being a participant engaged in a leadership process. I was a good follower, I listen to instruction and orders, and so by fulfilling the demand of a participant in certain way it transforms me to be a good leader either directly or indirectly. The successful leadership is the outcome of the fruitful interaction between those who lead and those who follow. The leader should explore in depth the role of the follower, drawing attention to its importance, value and potential contribution to the success of the team. The leadership role should be frame so that expectations of the leader incorporate actions that serve to encourage the follower to play their role to the full. Leadership can be seen in a two-way interaction between those who lead and those who follow in pursuit of a common goal and tangible and observable outcome. The quality of the interaction and its outcomes depends on the ability, skill, experience and motivation of all parties and their commitment to their common goals and outcome.
Leader and follower are two separate concepts, two separate roles. In a perfect world, they are complementary and not competitive roles. Both the leader and the follower make an active voluntary decision as to extent to which they apply their knowledge, abilities and skill to achieve desired outcome. For me my mentor or the role model in my life has always been my father, even though it’s not a direct mentor process for me, but I always look up to him. I remember he once told me to humble and respect other people, and then you will get the respect you want from other. I respect my father he never stop any of his children to do things, what he thought all of his children is if you believe you can do something, just do it, and if you made a mistake, learn from it. That’s what made me a person as I am right now. I remember after my SPM, I told my father that I want to further my study in the hotel industries. He said go a head, but before that try to work part time in a hotel first, so I did. I got a part time job as a banquet waiter at a local hotel, and from there I saw a bit of the industry, and in certain ways it help me to have a better picture of what I will be facing during my study. Now I see what he is trying to do to me is you learn something your self, he just show the way, and I thank him for that. What I’m trying to say here is you lead your own life, don’t depend on some one, and the experience that I got, plus the way that my father had shown me had a big impact in my life, it transform me to be a better person, and what I did not know then and I realized it now is, it also transform m to be a good leader.
But that wasn’t enough; I don’t want to be a good leader. What I want is to be a great leader, the processes are still processing, it never stops, and I don’t want to give up now. The word that I want to stress on are “love” and “respect”, two of the best characteristic of a humans. When you can control these two characteristic the following characteristic will influence you whether you notice it or not, they are personality; an out going style, communication skill, responsible or dependable, dedicated, patient, sensitive, honesty, and well prepared.
In conclusion, through my experience plus my years of education, plus the knowledge that I just got from Dr Artinah’s class what I can say is that, to be a good leader “you nor I cannot be a good leader unless we are or can be a good follower”, then latter on as the process goes on whether you notice it or not you will be a leader, but it doesn’t stop there the process still goes on as long as you never give up. From a leader you will become a good leader, from a good leader you will become a great leader. When I look at myself and wonder “am I a great leader now?” before this what I’ve always answer to that question is “I am not ready yet” but when look back put all the experience and knowledge that I have sum it all together, and now I got a new answer to my long awaited question. Now my answer is “yes I am a great leader” but in certain ways. What I meant in certain ways is I’m a great leader in my own world, I remember one of my lecturer told me that I have a mind of my own. And all these time that I’ve lived my life I have always been a great leader in my own way.
Zaid A. Razak
M.Sc Foodservice Management (HM772)