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March 2015 Baccarat Article

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Baccarat article on leadership and Leaderonomics

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March 2015 Baccarat Article

  1. 1. 41march 2015 Roshan Thiran is in the business of building leaders, and as he tells Raina Ng leadership is not something that can be taught, like a formula, but rather must be nurtured by experiences peopleprofile Suit jacket by Brooks Brothers; Collared shirt is Roshan’s own obody wants to go into work and do a bad job,” opined Roshan Thiran the CEO of training and development consultancy Leaderonomics. “It is not about the person but about the issues that surround the person that would affect his or her performance.” That revelation seeded within Roshan at a very young age. “My first experience with the sense of leadership happened when I was 12, I watched an ugly short fat man called Diego Maradona win the world cup. I was so inspired I started playing football.” Having never played before, and being blessed with a deep sense of persistence and determination, Roshan took football to task and made the school team. “I practised and practised and practised.” While Roshan, who now considers himself fortunate enough to be in the class that was footballer Mokhtar Dahari’s last coaching assignment, struggled with thoughts of being treated unfairly. “I was the youngest on the team, most of the others were in form four, form five I was only in form one. So I hardly got to play but then Mokhtar would force me to do things I hated to do and he treated me worse than everyone else. Whenever people did 10 push-ups I had to do 50!” At the end of his time coaching (Dahari passed away that year), he pulled Roshan aside. “He
  2. 2. 43march 2015 Collared shirt by Canali; Tie by Canali; Pants by Brooks Brothers asked me ‘do you think I’m talented?’ and I said 'Of course! you are Mokhtar Dahari.' Then he told me 'I am not talented, but I am the best. And do you know why I am the best? It is because I work the hardest'.” The lesson that diligence trumps talent was affirmed within Roshan very early on. And that advice is what he considers the first piece of gem that went into the basket of collated knowledge he now holds on the topic of leadership. Leadership is a widely-extrapolated topic, and most people have an opinion of what makes a good leader. Words like innovation and creativity, vision, charisma and a host of attributes are often associated with the people we tag as good leaders. “There are thousands of traits that make up leaders and none of them are wrong. What I did was I started asking myself – is it better to be a good listener or a good talker? Is it better to be a big picture person or to focus on details? Is it better to be humble or assertive? To be visionary or to micromanage? These are all opposites, and what I found is that often the answer is both, right?” Roshan discovered through his questioning process that while people often possessed the skills, they do not necessarily know how or when to execute them. But that is the crux of leadership — to execute at the right time. “There was this story about Mother Theresa that struck me,” relating to us the story of when Mother Theresa was slapped while begging for food. “She did not react so humbly that she offered her right cheek but she said thank you humbly. She did not go away, instead she continued to beg for food with an aggression. She got slapped several times more but continued asserting herself until food was finally given. She knew when to be humble and when to be assertive, all within 10 seconds. The thing here was that Mother Theresa would have been stuck in that situation a few times, and reacted differently. She learnt through trial and error that the right strategy will get the results she wanted. She built on her experiences over time and developed that point of view that helped her do the necessary thing at the appropriate time.” “Your leadership is the perspective of your own experiences. A point of view develops when you build multiple experiences. Your leadership point of view and how you react is usually learnt from that accumulation of experiences you had (especially between your twenties and your thirties). It is through this journey of experiences that you develop a point of view and perspective that will help you execute great decisions,” Roshan patiently spouted. “We can teach people how to talk, and how to listen but what we cannot teach is when to talk and when to listen. And that is leadership. Leadership is about making the right decision at the right time. To know when to do the right thing.”
  3. 3. 44 45march 2015 the privileged children when given the right opportunities. This gave him the idea of running kids' camps as leadership exercises for the GE managers and staff. “We recruited kids form different areas and I would task the managers with running these camps. It was interesting that some of these kids got hired as a result of these camps. More interestingly to me was how excited the kids around them reacted. With their successes, or what they appreciate as successes, they effectively gave the other kids a new role model. When there is a new role model there are new aspirations, and when there are new aspirations people start to try to do more, to achieve more. It changed the whole cycle of that whole kampung and that was when I was inspired to start an NGO called Leaderonomics.” Roshan eventually left GE and began his mission of building leaders. “I look at our leaders and think we will never be able to fix our leaders because they have never been given the experiences they needed to create their points of view and perspective. That is why they are so wishy-washy and are unable to make decisions,” asserted Roshan. But by building up these children he is effectively building up future leaders and more. “I believe that in some way or form we all are leaders. When you become parents you are leading your kids. If you cannot lead, if you are not a good leader you cannot take charge and won’t know how to make the right decisions. Then your family is in jeopardy, right? That is what the problem is with broken homes, there is no presence of a leader on the parental level. And the thing with kids is that they role model, so if you do not have that leader they essentially do not have somebody to look to.” So leadership, for Roshan is also about building families. It is about building role models and about building individuals. And these individuals are the essential building blocks of, well, as cliched as it sounds, the nation. Photography KAHMUN/ MYTH STUDIO Art Direction JOYCE LIM Stylist LAUREN CHRISTIE Assistant YIP & danny/ MYTH STUDIO all the news networks were covering her death, but then at almost the same time Mother Theresa died and nobody covered her story. We decided to do that and we shot up to number one.” It was during this time Roshan picked up the valuable Mother Theresa lesson. The Leaderonomics seed was planted in Roshan, when he expressed to GE his desire to quit. “I was tired but they said, no and gave me a job usually given to old people which was to head their training department,” said Roshan. It was there that he begun a series of experiments on how to cultivate good leaders. One of the experiments he did was to observe underprivileged children while actively playing a part in their lives. He tracked their developments and found that the kids he had aided began to act like normal children, and some even superseded The young Roshan attracted attention that sparked an interest in General Electric (GE). They called him and offered him an internship position. Roshan interned for GE and was offered a full-time position when his boss at that time got promoted to head a new business unit. So at the age of 20 Roshan become a full-time employee of GE, while finishing his degree and of course playing football. At GE, Roshan harvested a host of experiences that equipped him for his work today. He was moved around several divisions in GE worldwide and was often tasked with merger and acquisitions, business strategy and turning around flailing business units. “At that time, NBC the TV network was also part of GE. When I was there at NBC, we were number four in terms of news. The NBC turnaround happened around the time when Princess Diana died. When she died, “I found my sense of leadership through many episodes in my life,” continued Roshan who went on to share his journey of finding Leaderonomics. The man, while being astute academically missed out on a local scholarship and was adamant to find a place at a university overseas. “It was frustrating, I was a temp teacher after form five and to have to go back to school again as a student was something I found very hard to do. So I wanted to get out of the country and told myself I would figure out a way. Remembering what Mokhtar said, I just began writing to universities telling them that they are stupid if they do not take me,” Roshan related with a laugh. Harvard wrote back offering a half scholarship but Roshan ended up going to a small provincial university because they offered a full- scholarship that included board. Because the man had a relentless spirit, his story did not stop there. “When I got there I got frustrated again. All these Americans, I thought, did not know how to run the university so I ran for student body president and won. I was the first non-American student leader and because of that I was often in the community and local papers.” Collared shirt by Brooks Brothers; Bowtie by Canali; Red sweater by Brooks Brothers

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