Creating righteous leaders for a better tomorrow

Rajeev Peshawaria

Rajeev Peshawaria has been trying to change the world one person at a time and believes technological advancements will speed up the process.

Together with his team at Iclif Leadership & Governance Centre in Malaysia, and through his books, articles, keynote speeches and executive education programmes, he has been promoting what he calls leadership energy – the ability and perseverance to go the extra mile to make a difference in this world.

He said leadership is not about having the biggest title or about commanding a large pool of human resources.

Instead, it is a burning desire to create a better future. And because any attempt to create change almost always meets with resistance, the main ingredient of effective leadership is leadership energy – the inner strength to not give up.

Acquiring the long-lasting leadership energy comes from two assets – deep clarity of values which one never compromises no matter what and a purpose based on those values.

“Thanks to connectivity everybody in this world is ‘naked’ today. There is no privacy. There is nowhere to hide and every action is visible to the whole world instantly,” said Rajeev.

“This means leaders, bosses and businesses have to be careful how they do things as any wrong or unethical decisions will be exposed in an instant.

“This nakedness is good because it keeps people honest. We need to make the world a better place – make tomorrow better than it is today.”

The bestselling author of ‘Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders’ and ‘Open Source Leadership’ began this journey 12 years ago when he felt a strong dissatisfaction with the way leadership was being defined and the lack of good leadership around the world.

“In Iclif, I found the perfect platform to carry out my purpose of changing the way the world thinks about leadership, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity.

“Most of Iclif’s offerings are based on the concept of leadership energy, and the entire Iclif team works as hard as it possibly can to make people understand that genuine leadership energy is the only way forward in today’s open-source transparent world.”

Iclif offers executive education and advisory services to corporate boards and senior and middle management executives in 29 countries.

According to Rajeev, for generations, the biggest, most common misconception about leadership has been that a leader is the ‘sage on the stage’ wearing a dark suit, and having maximum authority.

But the deeper he dug, the more he realised ‘bosses’ (people with authority) are not necessarily leaders, and leaders don’t necessarily have to be bosses.

“We found that leadership had nothing to do with authority because some of the best leaders in history – Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr – had no authority, position or titles for most of their lives.

“Yet they are looked up to as some of the greatest examples of leadership. Why? It’s because they believed in a set of personal values that they never compromised, and had a purpose based on those values.

“They struggled and overcame obstacles, bore the hardships and never gave up until they made the world they were living in a better place.”

That is what leadership energy is about – the long-lasting strength to never give up on your beliefs no matter what stands in your way.

There are many leaders who have this trait but not all achieve it during their lifetime while others give up before realising their dream.

Leadership energy is also going beyond good oratory and communication skills to having the ability to convince people by your actions.

In recent years, Rajeev has been promoting leadership energy via the Leadership Energy Summit Asia (LESA), which enters its seventh edition from Nov 5-6 at Sasana Kijang, Kuala Lumpur.

The theme for LESA 2019 is ‘Blazing the Trail in the Open Source Era’ with ‘Freedom Within a Framework’ as its sub-theme.

The panel of speakers is specially curated as shining beacons of leadership energy.

The conference will also feature interactive masterclasses, a lively Big Debate session, the announcement of ILEA (ICLIF Leadership Energy Awards) 2019 winners and valuable opportunities for participants to network with like-minded leaders from various industries.

Rajeev is one of seven world-class speakers of LESA 2019 and joining him is Malaysia’s Datuk Nicol David, a former world No. 1 squash player who recently retired from the game.

The other speakers are Aron Ralston, founder of BrandNew Stefan Olander; futurist Sophie Hackford, author and global keynote speaker Fredrik Haren; and CXA Group founder Rosaline Chow Koo.

The summit will also feature masterclasses by Muhammad Sabri Rawi, Dr Thun Thamrongnawasawat, Lalit Gupta – faculty members from Iclif, and Professors Charles Fine and Loredana Padurean – from the Asia School of Business.

Nicol David
Nicol, flanked by Rajeev (right) and Lalit, will speak at LESA 2019.

Ralston made global headlines in 2003 after he freed himself when trapped between two boulders in a remote canyon by severing his arm. His life story was subsequently made into a movie – 127 Hours – starring James Franco.

“It has been a good journey. When we started LESA, it was difficult to get a full house but now, we have been swamped and sold out the event months in advance,” said Rajeev.

“Like everything else, the 80/20 rule will apply. There will be more detractors than supporters at first, but you have to carry on.

“That is what we are trying to do at Iclif – redefining leadership away from titles, position and authority, towards leadership energy – a limitless human strength based on the right values and purpose. Doing the right thing is never easy.

“It is not a consumer product that will have mass appeal. We will continue to chisel away at the wrong notions of leadership. One thing for sure is, we will never give up,” he added.

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This article is brought to you by Iclif.