By Cassandra Mascarenhas
World renowned aerospace engineer and the 11th President of India Dr. A.P.J Adbul Kalam emphasised on the need for a generation of creative leadership in all countries in order to build vibrant businesses and in turn, create accelerated national economic growth.
He also urged educational institutions in Sri Lanka to be geared up for the large number of creative thinkers needed by different disciplines and to facilitate the youth of Sri Lanka to do so.
Addressing a PIMA-CIMA forum of business professionals, academia and students at the Postgraduate Institute of Management on the topic ‘National economic development and creative leadership’ yesterday, the former ‘People’s President’ also encourage co-competencies within a nation, proposing that India and Sri Lanka should make use of the unique ‘sea wealth’ open to both countries, by jointly going into underwater research in a big way so that the wealth will be opened to both countries.
“A nation’s economic development is powered by competitiveness. Now competitiveness is powered by knowledge. This is powered by technology and innovation which is powered by the resources investment and this is powered by revenue and return on investment. This in turn is powered by volume which is powered by quality and value of products which is powered by employee productivity which is powered by employee loyalty which can be gained through management leadership which is powered by creative leadership. One must exercise the need to change traditional roles. The higher the ratio of creative leaders in an organisation, the higher the chances of success within the organisation and accelerated national economic growth,” he said.
Kalam then went onto describe the traits a leader should possess, stating that leaders must have a vision, a passion to transform the vision to action, travel into unexplored territory by creating their own paths and learn to absorb and manage failure and give success to team members, pointing out that this applies to politics, industry, education or for any development.
“A leader must have the courage to take decisions and have mobility in management. Every action of the leader should be transparent with integrity to succeed.”
“What type of world we are going to see and it is it possible that there could be prosperity and peace throughout the world or only for a few nations?” he asked the audience. “Sri Lanka or any other nation cannot live in isolation from the rest of the world. In a globalised world our problems and efforts are shared and prosperity and happiness will hence be shared.”
He then went on to outline a vision for 2030 evolved by his students all across the world and highlighted some of the plans set in motion in India in order to reach several goals by the year 2030. Kalam noted that one major aspect of economic development is bringing about rural prosperity, adding that there will be many business opportunities in India and that Sri Lanka and India should work together to improve bilateral relationships.
In response to a question posed by a member of the audience that Kalam’s spiritual thinking is a contradiction to India becoming a nuclear powerhouse, Kalam explained that this was because neighbouring countries began to equip themselves with nuclear weapons.
“The peace process was a bit difficult when our neighbours equipped themselves so we needed minimum strength which is how the nuclear weapons came into being. We have peace in the area and nothing has happened so far. When there is total disarmament within the other countries, we have declared that we will disarm ourselves. Our intent was to facilitate a peaceful atmosphere so that we can go on with econ development without fear.”
“The world needs compassionate leaders and leaders with a vision – Mandela and Gandhi are excellent examples of this but this combination is very difficult to achieve,” he concluded.