Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Who inspires you?


As consumers, we are constantly bombarded with CEO autobiographies that laud the given CEO’s accomplishments in the business sector.

I am happy to admit I have read my fair share of these books however whilst the stories were interesting, I can honestly say that I am rarely inspired by the CEOs themselves.

I am not too sure why this is. Perhaps having worked with so many individuals I am accutely aware that there are highly skilled people who do not become CEO because of luck, timing, internal politics etc. Likewise I have seen less skilled people become CEO because of luck, timing, internal politics etc.

When I reflect on who inspires me it is not people in the business sector. For me Nelson Mandela and Mohandas Gandhi are inspirational.

Nelson Mandela: The key attribute that I find inspiring about Nelson Mandela is that after been imprisoned for most of his adult life he still practiced forgiveness of his oppressors and the betterment of the whole of society. I wonder if I was in the same position would I be as forgiving?

Mohandas Gandhi: In a world where violence is (and was) prevalent, Mohandas Gandhi changed the entire political regime through peaceful methods. If you reflect on the bravery shown to stand up to an armed force with nothing but the will not to fight back, is for me, an astounding feat.

When I look back at all the materials from my MBA and the business literature available, I find it interesting that attributes that corporates should aspire to i.e. treating employees with fairness and equality, as well as demonstrating bravery in decision making (not simply following the herd because a new best seller says so) seem to be missing in action. I have a plethora of materials on Strategy, Financials, Marketing etc however very little on the skills of people whose accomplishments will be told in the pages of history. And yet it was these skills that helped execute a change strategy on a scale very few people will ever know.

So who inspires you and why?

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