KARACHI: “The biggest challenge for leadership in Pakistan is that we have a very laid-back approach in everything,” said Tariq Khan.
He was speaking at the launch of his book Leadership in Changing Times organised by the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) on Thursday. The author, who is faculty at New York University (NYU) and chief executive officer (CEO) of Global Diversity Marketing, also serves as chairman of the Board at Stratford University, Virginia.
He said the approach of people in Pakistan is not task-based or impact-based. “Here when organising an event, we would be more concerned about what to serve for tea or where to hold the programme rather than caring about its impact,” he explained.
“In Pakistan, we are also not in the habit of hearing the word ‘no’ unlike in the West where you have the option of ‘maybe’ along with ‘yes’ and ‘no’,” he said.
In conversation with Malahat Awan, IBA’s director for Alumni Communications Resource Mobilization and Corporate Relations (ACRC), the author said his interest in the subject of leadership was triggered when he saw others books on it about which his students complained that they were all difficult to follow textbooks.
“Today’s students are on edge. They have access to information that we never had. But how do they translate that information? I just wanted to simplify it for them,” he said.
He also added that most people today would end up working for younger people. “You have 28-year-old CEOs and many among them are women changing the workplace scenario. They have different traits for handling situations. They dream in colour while men dream in black and white. The world is changing rapidly and you need to move with it,” he pointed out.
He said everyone was a born leader with traits such as resistance, innovation, good communication, transparency, creativity, etc. “Children up to the age of five have all these traits and more but then we kind of stifle their intellect,” he said.
Giving a good example of a leader, he reminded how Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head at the age of 14, but she had resilience that helped her get well and work for the education of girls. “A good leader should have the vision to take you to a place,” he said, adding that there were in fact 12 basic traits that made one a leader.
“Still, all leaders don’t necessarily have all traits. For instance, former US president Donald Trump had amazing confidence, but he lacked empathy,” he said.
He also said that a leader should not be judged by the amount of money he or she had. He said Jeff Bezos, the founder and executive chairman of Amazon, is a bad leader. “He has not done anything to change people’s lives instead of making them buy things which they did not need,” he said.
Earlier, IBA executive director Dr S. Akbar Zaidi said he read a lot of books about leadership but Tariq Khan’s book was easier to understand. “It talks of leadership as always evolving. It is not fixed. You keep on learning. There are certain things which you acquire, which help you adapt to different situations. Basically, it is about learning while on your feet,” he said.
Published in Dawn, January 1st, 2022