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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Is There A Statesman In The House?

Is There A Statesman In The House?

Last Friday former British Prime Minister Tony Blair delivered the 22nd Sultan Azlan Shah Law Lecture. He spoke, to the chagrin of some, on the Rule of Law and its continuing relevance in an increasingly challenging world. The gist of his lecture was credibly reported in the media and no useful purpose would be served by my summarizing it here. Suffice it to say that Mr Blair presented the key aspects of the subject winningly and, at times, poignantly, lending important validation to what it is civil society has been saying for more than two decades now: an independent and competent justice system is crucial to democracy and the sustainable growth of a nation.

But as I listened to the lecture, it was not so much what he was saying that struck me but rather how he was saying it. His delivery was crisp, articulate and erudite, the intelligence and maturity underlying it evident. I do not intend to put Mr Blair on a pedestal but leaving aside his more questionable decisions including those on Iraq - I know of no leader whose every decision has been universally acceptable and if we are going to accuse Mr Blair of war crimes then we should be accusing those who wield the ISA for political purpose of crimes against humanity – here was, simply put, a world class leader.

After the lecture, I overheard some members of the audience ask whether they could imagine the Prime Minister or any other member of the cabinet delivering a lecture of that caliber. Sadly, the laughter the question generated was answer enough.

I walked away depressed. As unpleasant as it was to admit, they were almost entirely correct. Looking at those who claim the right to lead us, I have difficulties seeing whom it is that I can have faith in to get the job of running this country done the way it needs to let alone make a high performance presentation.

Many say Dr Mahathir was a great leader. I cannot accept this. It was his administration that left us in the difficulties we are in now. From reckless deficit spending on vanity mega-projects to a seeming incapability, or was it unwillingness, to deal with destructive corruption to the dismantling of the Rule of Law to the encouraging, nurturing even, of sectarian interests, his was an administration that left Malaysia deeply divided, distrustful and greatly crippled.

It is a testament to the resilience of Malaysians that we have been able to limp forward in spite of everything. That is our achievement, the rakyat, and not that of our current leaders as they are so wont to claim. To the contrary, it would seem that they have done almost everything to keep us hamstrung in order to secure political interests, no cost being too great for this purpose. Inconvenient realities have been almost carelessly hidden behind a flimsy construct of delusion, self-denial and studied indifference, effective only for it having been propped up by draconian laws aimed at procuring compliance.

The fact is this country is in a mess.

In all of this and more, the only individuals who have ascended to leadership have been those with the cast iron stomachs and the wily cunning that politics in this country requires. Objectivity, maturity, competence, and the other key characteristics of statesmanship appear not only to have been low on the list of prerequisites, they have at times appeared to impede the pursuit of greater political power.

Were things otherwise, we would not be the weak, divided, paranoid, and underachieving society that we are. Malaysia would instead be a strong, united and prosperous nation whose people, irrespective of race or religion, were global competitors capable of achieving greatness. We would have our share of world leaders.

There is no conceivable reason for our not being as successful, if not more so, than Singapore or a number of other nations. We had the talent, ability, intelligence, and resolve to have gotten us there a long time ago. Politics and the vanity of an elite were however permitted to keep or drive them away from where they were most necessary for the nation: the civil service, the nation building institutions, the governments of the States and the Federation, to name a few. Though not necessarily definitive in itself, comparing and contrasting the qualifications of those who sit on cabinet or in institutions such as the Judiciary in this country with those of similar positions in nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom and, closer to home, Singapore allows us to see the contours more clearly.

Politics continues to reign supreme, and those who lead us continue to deny the need for urgent systemic reform across the board and the need for reappraisal of race-relations policies in this country. That the status quo will eventually strangle us to death unless radical change is effected and effected quickly does not seem to figure on their political horizons.

We need a real leader; someone whose commitment to truth, social justice and nation building is as uncompromising as is his or her rejection of politics, greed and vanity. Though we do not need a saint, we need someone who understands that Malaysia belongs to all of us and that its future is our collective future; someone who appreciates the immense power that lies beneath its surface and is capable of harnessing and unleashing that power to capture the world.

Though, someone who could call a spade a spade and get on with dealing with things practically and fairly would be a good start.

Now, is that too much to ask?

(Malay Mail; 5th August 2008)



Anonymous said...

They are all dead or not born yet.

Malaysia should have been spoken of in the same glowing terms describing Singapore and Australia.

Sadly, after 50 years of BN excesses we are only fit to be compared to Zimbabwe and Burma. May I add North Korea to the list?

But we are hopeful. Hopeful that Pakatan Rakyat would succeed in leading the way to a better tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Too much to ask? Not at all! It is deserving for all educated Malaysians to ask for that.

IMHO, the primary obstacle to your request is the very thick racial element existing throughout the 51 years of our nationhood. No matter how much our national education system forcefully prides ourselves of our racial harmony, the 'r' word has been haunting our nation building process.

Likewise, for any political leader to rise up would require him/her to go by the 'r' recipe.

If you monitor what Anwar Ibrahim has been 'changing' (the favourite word used by BN in negative sense) over the years, I would venture to say that he is trying hard to shrug off that 'r' word in our national politics. We start to see hope, although I would caution everyone that it's always darkest before dawn.

BareSheen said...

Dear Malik, my heart weep when I read your article. A sad deep sigh ensued. How true, how sadly and tragically true. The Malaysia that could have been. The proud Malaysians that we could have been!

It boils my blood to think of the squandered opportunities, wealth, talent and resources.

It enrages me to realise that I could not, for the life of me, name one person in our government that I look up to in awe, admiration and respect. For the decency, principles, intelligence and statemenship that he or she embodies.

Not a single bloody person. How on earth did we end up in this sorry state? We have a population of 22 over million. Surely there is some one out there?

Many of our more able and intelligent Malaysians despair of this seemingly bottomless mess, packed their bags and leave. Even though they and their parents and their parents'parents were born and bred here.

Some may say to these "Leave lah. We don't need you."

To these narrow minded folks, with all humility, I say "$#$% off"!

Those of us who are born here and who have contributed one way or another, whether big or small, to the building of this beloved nation, we are entitled as much as anyone else to have a stake and a say in this country and no bloody person can tell us otherwise!

So, I will say to myself, do not despair.

For I believe deeply that nothing in life is permanent. Everything arise, it will surely fall away one day. Whether good or bad.

Whether evil, injustice, unfairness, waste, corruption, deceit, conceit, each of these is not permanent.

Provided there are a few good men around. That's all we need.

Reading your article, I know that there is a good man in you.

And I see quite many other good men out there. In their own way fighting and resisting these nonsense and for new beginnings.

I would like to be counted as one of these few good men.

Dear readers, would you be one for our beloved nation?

Anonymous said...

There is such a man.

God willing, we must all ensure, the Malaysian "Junta" does not succeed.

God forbid they should prevent such a Man of the people from stepping forth to take the "driver's seat".

Let's ensure he is not done-in as was done-in to another valorous statesman who could have made a positive difference in our time - Mr Tan Koon Swan.

It's time to turn around this dicta on its head -

"People should be afraid of the Government"


"People should not be afraid of the Government. Government should be afraid of the people".

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ, Telur Dua. I think they exist. They've just left the country. After all, when a system is stacked against even the best and brightest, why should they bother - especially when foreign lands welcome them with open arms?

Malaysia has produced winners. You just have to look beyond our shores. They lead some of the largest financial institutions in the world, they hold high posts in Silicon Valley. They contribute to global developments. They just do it away from home.

Even our artistic endeavours - the ones that have made world news - seem to have been achieved only by those who have left our shores. Look at Tash Aw, Tan Tuan Eng and Preeta Samarasan. Why have they all published only after they transplanted themselves to other countries?

It's got nothing to do with the country not being able to produce the right people. It's got everything to do with our failure to tolerate excellence and nurture it within our shores.

rocky said...

it is sad..but true. at this moment I can only see Anwar being a leader who can rise above race as well as religion and lead a united Malaysian.

The rest are too busy playing race card and trying to secure their own future and KT leads the way with being the most racist of the lot and using religion to further disunite us. Pak Lah and Najib can never get close to Blair and our fellows are too busy with power.

Anonymous said...

not a chance as long as the current BN runs the show.
divide and rule and plundering of state assets is the name of the game. try protesting and the full weight of the law abuses will be heap on you.

Anonymous said...

Well argued, Malik. Until policies are grounded in meritocracy, and equity and fairness becomes the norm, the ills suffered by Malaysia will continue to plague its people. It takes time to make the necessary reforms failing which I dread to think what would become of our beloved nation, a country rich in resources but bereft of competent and trustworthy people in power.

flyer168 said...

Dear Malik,

I totally understand & feel your frustrations in this latest posting of yours.

My heart bled for this great nation & its citizens since Tunku, our Bapa Merdeka was "betrayed" by the "Elite Nationalistic Ketetuanan Group"- some may still be alive today, still mentoring the BN, UMNO & UMNOputras.

Have no fear as more incriminating revelations will be forthcoming to put the final nail on the coffin of the "BN" administration by its OWN enemies from WITHIN their ranks.

Initially we have YB LGE as one of the many TRUE Malaysian Leaders and many more will "Evolve" in due course, not necessarily from any party.

Have FAITH & be PATIENT to witness the coming of a New Dawn for this great nation Malaysia for all Malaysians. Insha Allah.

Raison D'etre said...


I do beg to differ on your Mahathir statement. While he may not be a great leader, but I sincerely believe that he did what he thought was necessary for the country. We happen to have the benefit of hindsight to see some of the flaws, but things are not so apparent back then, were they?

And yes, I do get the argument against "means towards ends" policies, but given the mantle of leading a country, what choices do you have?

He was overzealous is his pursuit of what he sees as necessary.

At least, the country was shoulder to shoulder with giants back then.

Now, we take pride in being seen as superior compared to the likes of Zimbabwe.

What a laugh.

Anonymous said...

To quote a popular comedian, "At least we're better than Ghana." Isn't that sad.

Anonymous said...

The whole nation is crying out for leadership. Leadership akin to the
"mold" of our founding fathers. Where are the TAR's? the Tun Ismail's (he was a terror those days)? Sambanthan's? Cheng Lok, etc? Or even the great statesman who was one of the founding father's of Gerakan & later Pekemas.

So Imtiaz, we need articulate statesmen. I truly enjoyed seeing u on TV when u spoke with SIL & the loud mouth. But there are good people out there in the political wilderness. It is a matter of time, b4 they rise up. Just hope the dregs of society do not compromise them b4 they get a chance to lead.

By the way, I m of Indian origin, and I would strongly recommend those persons who are followers of that teacher from Teluk Panglima Garang to understand that Indians were resident in Kedah and probably Johor during the 6th century. I can trace my ancestory to the Cholas. For the record, tracing my recent ancestory, I found that my great grandfather was invited to Malaya because he was a Doctor.
For us to progress forward as a Bangsa Malaysia, we need to understand our personal history. Once we get to know that, then we will realize that irrespective of one's name & race & religion, we r all Malaysian's of either Chinese or Indian origin. My ancestors were here in Malaya, before a people group left Yunan, via Taiwan thru Philippines and finally settled in Indonesia & various states of Malaya.
Yet today, I m considered an imigrant.
Anyway, we have to realize that we all have to come together to work for a better future. In a way, I envy Australia, they have people from so many different ethnic backgrounds, mixing in a "kuali" which will eventually lead to a sublime dish (better than what's available at the Canteena)...

Anonymous said...


there is one man in front of us now. but, alas, he is now being ridiculuosly charged for sodomy. yes, its ridiculous but this corrupt regime has no choice but to manipulate all the vital institutions just to stay in power. their decadent policies are the cause but as loyal malaysians, are we going to stand up together with this man against the corrupt regime? if we do abandon him now, forever shall we keep our silence.

Ah Chin said...

The country has lost 22 years through the Mahathir regime. The present regime is no better. Instead of devising policies to make up for the lost years, it just continues what the former one had been doing. There is no lack of good quality leaders in this country, but there is certainly a scarcity (or none) of them in the government. Why? The rakyat themselves have to bear the blame. the majority of the rakyat are still politically illiterate and can be easily suckered by unsrupulous politicians. They put these scoundrels in power. In Malaysia, you don't need a Harvard or Cambridge degree to be rise to the top of the government. Even a railway gatekeeper can be a policy maker for the country as long as he has the cunning ability to play his racial game and command a strong following. Meritocracy is a word our leaders avoid like a plaque. Results? The inevitable loss of great talents in the country. But all is not lost, there is still hope as GE308 has shown us. More rakyat are turning to the new media for political news and more have changed their mindsets. If the trend continues, we shall see more quality leaders coming forward to run the country. The present set shall soon become rejects.

Giant Squid said...

No, it is not too much to ask for us to be strong, successful, and united. We have the natural resources and we have the human resources. Although we are sometimes told that we are a small country and may not be able to measure up to the big ones, we are really not that small, and we must not think small either. Thinking within the racial boundaries will only make us smaller...not united, not strong and not happy.
We must dare ourselves to step out of the created boundary that put a limit on we can achieve.

Anonymous said...

The hallmarks of leadership in Malaysia have been eroded by immense and unchecked greed and this cancer has reached critical mass to the extent that the whole body has decayed.

It is truly too late for Malaysia. Stupidity, arrogance, cancerous corruption of those that cling on to power has robbed our children of a good future.

The few good men cannot win in a pool full of bloodthirsty sharks without a miracle.

lucia said...

minta maaf for off topic. nak memaklumkan petisyen untuk kebebasan media. sila sokong dengan tandatangan anda.

terdapat di blog i:

atau di blog benar dimana tandatangan boleh dibuat:

sokongan anda amatlah dihargai. terima kasih.

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about this for the past few years now - simply because I cringe when any politician opens his/her mouth. I want to have some exemplary leaders who will bring lustre to the name Malaysia. And then I realised I have to try to shine the name Malaysia in whatever situations I am in and in my work.

I think you shine the name of Malaysia everytime!

And no - it is not too much to ask - it is the least qualification a politician can offer the people - articulate speech, ideas, maturity, presence and bearing!

47 said...

This is a very sad post MIS, and unfortunately, in every sense, also a a very true one.

What a sorry state our country and our people are in.

I can accept the fact that politics is naturally dirty, but over here in Malaysia, it's especially filthy...

Anonymous said...

It's been some time that I have not said this in the various blogs but I will say it here again as I have said it many times: UMNO is the devil behind the destuction of Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

It has oft been said what a lucky country Malaysia is. We have the natural resources, the advantage of a strategic geographical location and a healthy mix of different races and culture which should have lent her citizens an additional advantage over others.

We need not look so far beyond our shores. See how far we have drifted apart compared to Singapore, Singapore who has no natural resources, limited land, hasn't even enough water supply to quench her citizens. But both countries started from the same starting block at the same time. Are we still proud of what we are?

Even compared with other neighbours. We are lagging behind the likes of Vietnam which went literally through hell but rose up form the ashes to become one the stars of the region. We are already losing out to Thailand and soon we shall be tailing Cambodia and Laos.

And all this happens despite the fact that we have oil. Whether our oil is not the type that can be used in our cars is not important as petroleum in whatever form is a money generator. I used to think that we have come far to where we are today. A vibrant and modern country with one of the world's tallest buildings, a spanking new Putrajaya, a world-class KLIA etc. Scratch the surface and you will suddenly realise that we really haven't made any real inroads to propel our country to her full potential.

Why? The chairman of Petronas recently voiced his concern over Malaysia's over dependence on petroleum for her revenue which is just a touch over 50 percent. And this was for the past 25 years. Now, just imagine if we had no petroleum, discount the 51 percent contribution from it to our revenue, where would we be? Other countries which are nett exporter of petroleum are laughing all the way to the bank with the recent astronomical surge in oil prices. By right Malaysia should be riding the wave too but no, instead we are rocking at the bottom of the economic abyss.

So what has gone wrong. Why are we as successful as Singapore? Fact is we do not have any real world class leaders. Leaders who are far-sighted, who places his self-interest below the needs of the nation, leaders who are truly knowledgeable and wise.

I agree that such calibre of leaders are rare as chicken's teeth but I am not even seeking a leader the likes of Blair. All we need and ask for are leaders who are non-corrupt, who are sincere in sharing with the people an united goal to push our country to higher levels and dignified. When I am on oversea trips, I want to be able to hold my head high and declare proudly that I am a Malaysian, and not be the subject of ridicule by our global peers.

Yap said...

Good write up.

To find a Statesman in the house, NO but donkeys.Their days are numbered and there is still hope in having the required statesman. Patient patient patient

maximus_guliano said...

Boring, boring, boring!!!

A 'boring' piece of essay...

Unknown said...

I read & I weep. We have made Malaysia the clown act in a circus, providing snickers & laughterv for the world. There was a email circulating detailing the academic achievements of our leaders compared with those from Singapore - it is stating the abvious I know.
How can these few individuals have the gall to do what they are doing to save their own skins? Do they not worry about their souls? What defence are they planning to put up when they meet their Maker? What about their grandchildren?
Oh how we wish they can face their God now & be punished for all sins..... but perhaps we should instead pray (and I mean, pray very very hard) for the conversion of their souls which they have sold to the devil himself. God help Malaysia & us all.

Anonymous said...

Dear Malik,

You can't accept Mahathir was great. You know something you are not alone.
The good doctor introduced the greed virus into UMNO which spread to the rest of BN.Now the whole country is suffering from an incurable disease called corruption.Every organ of the govt is diseased.It is too late to amputate...too late for any corrective surgery.

Some may say he is great for having the gall to call leaders of superpowers war criminals.But then is he a peace angel?
As I see it his only greatness is in the first four letters of his name.That too by logic belongs to his father. n

Malaysia180 said...

An Islamic Statesman is an oxymoron.

There is no such thing as a Statesman who cannot think for himself

Anonymous said...

He seems strong, articulate, smart but he's young and appears arrogant. He could be groomed to be a good leader if only he'd listen and thread carefully. he has to prove that he can stand on his own too. But sadly he's been getting bad press.he has to work hard to polish his image.
He's Khairy Jamaluddin.

Quantum Metal Consultant said...

Lu mabuk ke Malik ?!!!

Cruzeiro said...

Amidst all these, there is Hope once again in the hearts of the people (unlike previously), in the form of none other than Anwar Ibrahim himself.
In substance however, it is actually civil society and the awakening of the national conscience.
Caught unawares, pirates are grappling with it this "new phenomenon" and are trying hard to snuff it out at its infancy, through sheer intimidation and the occasional carrot........

Faced with powerful "subversive elements", the ultimate price we pay for justice may well be the "Peace" as we know it.
Could this be the price of Justice and Democracy?

Anonymous said...

Dear Malik,

There are many Malaysians who have made it to the world's stage but serving in foreign countries.

This is because they are not welcomed in their home country Malaysia. Sad. Otherwise Malaysia would be a great country. I dare say far far greater and better than our neighbour Singapore!

Anonymous said...

Ah Chin said that the rakyat have only themselves to blame for the current state of affairs. I fully agree with him. The people of Malaysia who are now crying about the state of the country are the ones who put this country where it is today.

I am no better. Until recently, I will just mutter and say "its politics" or "let's not look for trouble". The Chinese in general (and I'm Chinese) are extremely guilty of this. I remember when I was growing up I was constantly told not to question the status quo, to avoid politics and to get rich. My other Chinese friends receive pretty much the same 'advice'.

Well, 35 years later and here we are.

Only when Malaysians exercise their political will anything chance. And Malaysians must also be willing to bear with the upheavals that will result is such changes. It will be painful but necessary. But then again, would Malaysians have the will and the staying power to see things through? Will they be pacified by the govt's bribes of jobs and 'stability'. Will they be suppressed by the willingness of the Govt to use force to ensure the 'safety' of the nation?

Malaysians must put come together and put aside their racial and religious difference to work as one for the betterment of this country.

Hopefully Malaysians can rise to the occassion and finally make a real change. Hopefully we as a nation will not be found wanting. If the country turns into a banana republic, we only have ourselves to blame and no one else. To use the famouse quote by the American satirist Walt Kelly "We have met the enemy and he is us". Our (The Rakyat's) complacency, racial divisiveness and fear of change is our nation's greatest enemy.

aja49 said...

Though Mahathir had done so much (but not without putting his priority first) to the country and for the people to enjoy and benefit but still we see not even a dim light at the end of the tunnel to take us to where we should be heading. Mahathir may have reached the end of the tunnel but we have been cunningly left behind to still suffer in the dark.

True as Malik have said it that Mahathir has left the country in such mess. And he is still messing around to make the country even more messy. He enjoys doing so.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant article.

Unfortunately, we don't such a charismatic, mature and clean leader yet.

Many herald Anwar as the "saviour" of Malaysia but I have my reservations about the nature of the man, sexual orientation aside.

The Shabeery Cheek-Anwar debate brought out some facts about Anwar that I wasn't aware of but changed my mind about him.

Would you like a man who is not consistent in his views to become the PM??I wouldn't.......

Anonymous said...

MIS - can we ever expect to find a statesman in a circus and at times a zoocus (ie a zoo and circus combined) ?

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why, after all these years, we're still looking for a political messiah to lead us out of the wilderness. Do we really think all the answers will come from one man or woman? What happened to independent thought?

Maybe we have ourselves to blame.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Imtiaz,

I disagree with you. I am an Iraqi living here because I have recently married a Malaysian. I lost my sisters (Jehan and Jumma 31 27) and Jehans daughter, Soraya during the war. They were killed by the Britons. Tony Blair thought we had some weapons. Until you know what it is like to have lost family members and lived in war times -please then make statements about "world class leaders". It pains me to see developed nations and their leaders taking on small people like us. It pains me to see people in other countries not working to work harmoniously. I hope that we can all live in peace and tranqulity. Mr. Imtiaz, Mr. Blair is the type of leader who talk with such clarity, that it should tell you, again that clarity, of mere words alone are not enough to tell the truth. In fact it is easier to tell more lies with them. I hear the same in Sadam and the other person trying to win Malaysians for his own agenda to become the Prime Minister of this country. There is something about these leaders that scares me.

Anonymous said...

hi mr imtiaz.
I would like to know what is your opinion on the bar councils decision to hold the forum on 'Conversion on Islam' and especially on your thoughts of the protesters.

Anonymous said...

I thought Raja Nazrin give pretty good speeches. But it is sad he will never be a political ladder and even sadder if he has to.

Anonymous said...

We the Rakyat, should evaluate and determine the kind of Leaders we want for our beloved country, Malaysia

Here are the Top 10 Qualities of a Good Leader

By David Hakala


Leadership can be defined as one's ability to get others to willingly follow. Every organization needs leaders at every level. Leaders can be found and nurtured if you look for the following character traits:

A leader with vision has a clear, vivid picture of where to go, as well as a firm grasp on what success looks like and how to achieve it. But it’s not enough to have a vision; leaders must also share it and act upon it. Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric Co., said, "Good leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion."

A leader must be able to communicate his or her vision in terms that cause followers to buy into it. He or she must communicate clearly and passionately, as passion is contagious.

A good leader must have the discipline to work toward his or her vision single-mindedly, as well as to direct his or her actions and those of the team toward the goal. Action is the mark of a leader. A leader does not suffer “analysis paralysis” but is always doing something in pursuit of the vision, inspiring others to do the same.

Integrity is the integration of outward actions and inner values. A person of integrity is the same on the outside and on the inside. Such an individual can be trusted because he or she never veers from inner values, even when it might be expeditious to do so. A leader must have the trust of followers and therefore must display integrity.

Honest dealings, predictable reactions, well-controlled emotions, and an absence of tantrums and harsh outbursts are all signs of integrity. A leader who is centered in integrity will be more approachable by followers.

Dedication means spending whatever time or energy is necessary to accomplish the task at hand. A leader inspires dedication by example, doing whatever it takes to complete the next step toward the vision. By setting an excellent example, leaders can show followers that there are no nine-to-five jobs on the team, only opportunities to achieve something great.

Magnanimity means giving credit where it is due. A magnanimous leader ensures that credit for successes is spread as widely as possible throughout the organization. Conversely, a good leader takes personal responsibility for failures. This sort of reverse magnanimity helps other people feel good about themselves and draws the team closer together. To spread the fame and take the blame is a hallmark of effective leadership.

Leaders with humility recognize that they are no better or worse than other members of the team. A humble leader is not self-effacing but rather tries to elevate everyone. Leaders with humility also understand that their status does not make them a god. Mahatma Gandhi is a role model for Indian leaders, and he pursued a “follower-centric” leadership role.

Openness means being able to listen to new ideas, even if they do not conform to the usual way of thinking. Good leaders are able to suspend judgment while listening to others’ ideas, as well as accept new ways of doing things that someone else thought of. Openness builds mutual respect and trust between leaders and followers, and it also keeps the team well supplied with new ideas that can further its vision.

Creativity is the ability to think differently, to get outside of the box that constrains solutions. Creativity gives leaders the ability to see things that others have not seen and thus lead followers in new directions. The most important question that a leader can ask is, “What if … ?” Possibly the worst thing a leader can say is, “I know this is a dumb question ... ”

Fairness means dealing with others consistently and justly. A leader must check all the facts and hear everyone out before passing judgment. He or she must avoid leaping to conclusions based on incomplete evidence. When people feel they that are being treated fairly, they reward a leader with loyalty and dedication.

Assertiveness is not the same as aggressiveness. Rather, it is the ability to clearly state what one expects so that there will be no misunderstandings. A leader must be assertive to get the desired results. Along with assertiveness comes the responsibility to clearly understand what followers expect from their leader.

Many leaders have difficulty striking the right amount of assertiveness, according to a study in the February 2007 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the APA (American Psychological Association). It seems that being underassertive or overassertive may be the most common weakness among aspiring leaders.

A sense of humor is vital to relieve tension and boredom, as well as to defuse hostility. Effective leaders know how to use humor to energize followers. Humor is a form of power that provides some control over the work environment. And simply put, humor fosters good camaraderie.

Intrinsic traits such as intelligence, good looks, height and so on are not necessary to become a leader. Anyone can cultivate these leadership qualities.