“If you want change that means a departure from the past and how can an individual of no change, do not rock the boat syndrome, a specialist in apple polishing be that catalyst for holistic change?”


The strain of this disease is vastly difficult to eradicate!

This is no rocket science but over 40 years of consumer and human rights advocacy has helped me simply nod my head in disbelief why sitting governments reappoint failed politicians and civil servants to position of power requiring holistic change?

How can we recycle individuals who have just been seat warmers, occasionally using ghost writers to write press statements or letters whenever there is chaos or controversy in the corridors of public policy initiatives?

Their career path prior shows they are a failed personality!
Why do policymakers even governments extend deadwood in the name of change?

Perhaps, this should be the topic of my next dissertation in the summer of 2019 at The Hague!

I have always wondered why governments and decision makers love to recycle politicians, civil servants if what they want is change!

If you want change that means a departure from the past and how can an individual of no change, do not rock the boat syndrome, a specialist in apple polishing be that catalyst for holistic change?

If you were to write down all of the traits of a strong leader who you believe will bring about change – you could create quite an impressive list.

No matter what traits you write on that list, though, confidence needs to be at the very top of it.

We are all aware that communities crying out for change do not follow those who lack confidence.

History repeatedly showed that!

You can be the most technically competent individual in your respective field, but if you lack the confidence to back it up, you will not lead successfully.

Interestingly, people are willing to follow leaders who may not have all the required technical competence, as long as that leader has confidence.

Now I have stated so much but what are those top characteristics that set strong and confident leaders apart from average leaders, even the totally bankrupt ones except that they have the special skill to kiss ass:

Most importantly I believe confident leaders envision a positive outcome.

They believe that they have the skills needed to figure it out, find the resources, build a team, and consistently deliver the desired results and along caveated and entrenched timelines!

Confident leaders truly believe they can make a difference in the world, and their positive vision allows them to lead positive conversations.

Secondly, I have always noticed that leaders who have confidence are perfectly comfortable telling people that they do not have all the answers.

They are happy to tell others, “I don’t know the answer, or exactly what actions I should take, but I will find out.” Or, state, “I don’t know, but I know that we’ll be able to figure this out as a team.”

And not pass the blame; make excuses, as if it is always another’s fault or that one can rewrite the narrative avoiding blame?

In many of my visits abroad, I have always taken time to meet retired heads of states, members of the diplomatic community, civil society members, the media and certainly professionals.

And I have noticed among those accomplished that they say very little but are comprehensively listening and certainly making their own discourse of you!

My late grandfather an educationist and peer of the first two premiers of Malaysia always told me that talking too much is a common sign of lacking confidence.

Confident leaders are comfortable choosing their words carefully to make their point, and are equally comfortable listening to others.

That is not all.

He also urged me to ask more questions.

He used to tell us that asking questions is a great way to signal to others that:

1) You don’t assume you already know the answer and,
2) That you value the other person’s opinion.
3) By asking questions, you not only educate yourself further, but you encourage others to step up and contribute their knowledge and ideas.

Among other traits we must remember that individuals who lack confidence are not comfortable giving credit and recognition where it is due.

Confident leaders feel truly blessed with their life and find it easy to acknowledge the good work of others.

They also have the ability to lift others up when they need it.

I am certain members of my former team at flex would concur with what I am citing here!

And certainly when one does that you are open to risks or at least calculated risks.

I believe and it is in my foundation that strong leaders confidently forge into the unknown, and learn from their mistakes.

They are not safely mired on the sidelines, but, rather, spend their time in the thick of the play.

Confident leaders believe they can successfully accomplish their goals, and pursue them regardless of uncertainty.

And there is nothing wrong in accepting compliments either.

When confident leaders are complimented, they feel comfortable and worthy of accepting the compliment.
Instead of discounting the compliment, they simply say, “Thank you for taking the time to share that positive feedback with me.
It makes me feel good.”

Confident leaders know that if they do not feel worthy of praise, others will soon stop providing them with positive feedback.

But having said that, we have the other spectrum as well, where inexplicably, we can be motivated by negative people.

Let me explain this.

I have always welcomed challenges!

Confident people love to be told, “You cannot do that,” or “It would not work in this context.”

But I am certain as well when confident people hear those words; it triggers the “Watch me!” response.

Many confident people readily admit that they are where they are today because someone told them something could not be done.

My flex team would remember my repeated ‘mantra’ to them where they are urged to be calm or what I call – “the peace be still syndrome!”

This when dealing with challenging, stressful situations!

In difficult or stressful situations, confident people have a knack for combining their positive vision with talking less and asking more questions.

This is the exact opposite of what a leader lacking confidence does.

At some point, we all have experiences where as a leader who “lost it” in a difficult situation and said or yelled something that they later wish they had not done.

Asking questions and listening before you provide direction tends to have a calming effect in difficult situations, and is a whole lot more productive than yelling.

Finally are we leaders taking action even though it may be unpopular but required in the grand scheme of things or are we just holding fort – the status quo?

After all when the month comes your salary is assured work or no work!

That is the difference in the final audit!

Confident people believe they “can,” they set more goals, take decisive action, and get more things done. They do not sit around wasting time second guessing themselves and others or giving excuses!

So truly leadership is hard.

It is just about impossible; however, if you do not have the confidence to carry you through the tough decisions and circumstances leaders are faced with on a regular basis.

If you do not believe in yourself, why should the people who follow you do so?

When people feel your confidence radiate, they are naturally inclined to trust you, and will more willingly invest their time, energy and loyalty to ensure that you and your team succeed.

This is why I appeal to those who when reappointed to vital government and other positions, please be brave and true to yourself and the nation and please stand down if you really do not have these traits!

Your track record prior is clearly there for all to see whether you are an agent for holistic change or apple polishers, more a kiss ass specialists, just serving yourself at the public expense!

As for those making the decisions, reemploying – rejects and failures – please remember your constitutional oath of office!

The nation deserves the best not rejects!