Dr. DARREN CHUA

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15September

2016

What Mulu taught me about Leadership

I recently visited the Gunung Mulu Park which many consider to be the most spectacular and the “Jewels in the Crown” of Sarawak’s network of national parks. It is also the largest national park, covering 544 sq km of primary rainforest which houses 3 mountains. Yet, hidden underneath the forested slopes are where Mulu’s attractions lie such as its large limestone caves.

The tropical rainforest provides a prime example of a complex system. The Mulu rainforest contains an almost endless variety of species and the interaction between these species are so varied. Adaption in the Mulu rainforest is an ongoing and rapid process and continually yields new relationships and even new species.

The complexity that lies within the Mulu rainforest is paradoxical. After all, the Mulu rainforest have the poorest of soil because of the rapid and huge rain fall continually. Yet it supports so much biodiversity.

In science, complex systems is used to describe interactions that forces out the existence of new and distinctive group of properties called “emergence” – that the action of the whole is more than the sum of the action of the parts.

In many ways, leadership has many properties of emergence. The following are some pillars that creates successful leadership that makes a difference.

Character
A person with strong character shows passion, energy, determination, discipline, and courage. He sees what he wants and goes after it and in doing so, attracts similar like-minded people.

Care for Others
Genuine care for other people is driven by deep value-based motivations and concerns to make a positive and practical difference to the lives of other people. After all, authentic leadership lies in the heart of service.

Communicator
Effective communication is motivated by compassion. Compassionate communication helps people remain empathetic with each other, even in situations fraught with anger or frustration. It teaches people to speak to others without blaming and to hear personal criticisms with objectivity.

Collaborator
We can always spot leaders who are focused on collaboration. They are constantly intentional about breaking barriers, crossing borders and building bridges. They know the importance of building relations for the successful execution of activities and effective interpersonal relations. They spot the barriers and break them, and build relations that bring magical results to their organizations.

These pillars are key in creating a culture of leadership that will dictate behavioral norms, shared practices, common attitudes and beliefs. Similar to the rainforest, while each of these species (pillars) may seem unimpressive, building up these pillars collectively will ultimately create the success you envisage for your team.

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