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					                 Leadership and Business Trait

        A study on Tan Sri Dato’ Azman Hashim



       Scholars had defined leadership as “interpersonal influence, exercised in

situations and directed, through the communication process, toward the attainment of

a specified goal or goals” (Tannenbaum, Weschler & Massarik, 1961, p.24).

Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an

objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and

coherent. Leaders carry out this process by applying their leadership attributes, such

as beliefs, values, ethics, character, knowledge, and skills.

       In Malaysia, during the early years of 1980s, almost all prominent leaders in

corporate success are more like the entrepreneur type. These managers are namely

Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew, Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong and Tan Sri Inrathdas Jethanand who

only had a basic education. However in this 21st century, globalization present a new

challenge to the corporate leadership whereby we can see the leaders in today‟s

corporate world who are highly educated such as Tan Sri T Ananda Krishnan of Maxis

Berhad, who is a MBA graduate and once an accountant, Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman

Hashim of AmCorp Group Berhad.

       This paper tries to explore the contributions of the Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman Hashim

as a corporate leader, his leadership qualities and his approaches to the organizations



                                ‘THE MAN HIMSELF’

                      YBHG TAN SRI DATO' AZMAN HASHIM

       Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman Hashim is well known as a corporate figure. Born July

1939 in Kuala Lumpur, he is one of the richest people in Malaysia and his net worth is

estimated by Forbes to be US$600 million, making him among the richest person in


         His professional experience began in Perth, Australia where he was employed

by Messrs O.L. Haines & Co (Chartered Accountants) from 1955-1960. In 1960, he

returned to serve with Bank Negara Malaysia until May 1964 when he left to start his

own accountancy practice of Azman & Co which later grew into a partnership, Azman

Wong Salleh & Co (Chartered Accountants). He then joined the Board of Malayan

Banking Berhad in 1966 to 1980. He was appointed Executive Chairman of Kwong Yik

Bank Berhad in 1980 till 1982 when he became Chairman of the AmBank Group until


         Currently, Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman Hashim is Executive Chairman of Amcorp

Group Berhad and Chairman of several subsidiaries of the AmBank Group and also

AMDB Berhad. Known for his perseverance and intelligence, Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman

Hashim is the man who vastly contributed towards the economic development of

Malaysia and stands amongst the high esteemed and successful people of Malaysia.


         Bass (1989) theory of leadership states that there are three basic ways to

explain how people become leaders. The first two explain the leadership development

for a small number of people. These theories are:

      1) Some personality traits may lead people naturally into leadership roles.

      2) A crisis or important event may cause a person to rise to the occasion, which

         brings out extraordinary leadership qualities in an ordinary person.

      3) People can choose to become leaders. People can learn leadership skills.

         Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman Hashim leadership development can be traced back to

his early childhood and career. His success in life can perhaps be attributed to the

discipline and wisdom imparted to him by his parents, a father who was a strict

disciplinarian and a mother, a school teacher who later became headmistress of the

Kampung Baru Girls‟ School. In 1954, he sat for the Senior Cambridge Examination

and obtained a first grade. He had wanted to pursue medicine but was offered

accountancy instead on a Colombo Plan Scholarship which took him to Australia from

1955 to 1960. His intelligence and perseverance were proven when he became a

Chartered Accountant and Chartered Secretary before the age of 21.

         Tan Sri Dato' Azman Hashim began his early career as a Chartered

Accountant in Messrs. OL Haines & Co., Australia, in 1955 before returning home in

1960 to serve in the Central Bank of Malaysia. He left the Central Bank in 1964 to set

up his own accounting firm. In the year 1966, Tan Sri Dato' Azman Hashim joined the

Board of Malayan Banking Berhad and from 1971-1980 he served there as an

Executive Director. In the year 1980, he was appointed as the Executive Chairman of

Kwong Yik Bank Berhad. He served there till 1982 and then joined the AmBank Group

and presently, he is the Executive Chairman of the Amcorp Group Berhad and also the

chairman of its various subsidiaries.

       In corporate circles, Tan Sri Dato' Azman Hashim has been known to be a

conservative and shrewd businessman. He is known as very straight but sharp. He

also has a strong mind and is both an entrepreneur and a corporate man.‟ Described

as „a good man to work with‟ by his associates, he is said to be free of „shady stuff‟.

Tan Sri Dato' Azman believes in doing business in its true sense; not just juggling

numbers on paper.‟ He always believes any form of capabilities can make a different.

As Executive Chairman or Amcorp Group Berhad, he still holds that view of building

and expanding through lateral growth, which is quite distinct from corporate

maneuvering. Nevertheless, he agrees that good corporate moves are an essential

part of business expansion.

       Tan Sri Dato' Azman Hashim acknowledged that the two most important

ingredients for the success of a good corporation are good leadership, and sound and

enlightened management. He really believes that no matter how effective a corporate

strategic plan is, without these two elements, it will be extremely difficult to realize the

plan. And even if it‟s realised, it will wither away in time. In a competitive business

environment, a CEO‟s ability to sustain the business is critical to the survival of a

corporation. Associates close to Tan Sri Dato' Azman Hashim say he is able to do both

– to create and sustain. All the training he had at Azman, Wong, Salleh & Co had

provided him with the nose for business and the staying power to carry it through.

       Tan Sri Dato' Azman Hashim is basically „seconded‟ to provide the „sharper

eye‟ for business. His contribution as CEO of „troubled‟ Malayan Banking Group in

1970, by introducing computerizes banking system was regarded as brilliant and

brave. However, he declines to be regarded as a „corporate doctor‟. And he maintains

that he is not cut out for politics. A UMNO member for almost 35 years, the furthest he

went was as a treasurer of UMNO Selangor in 1970.


       A lot of the nation‟s leaders have been discussing the importance of leadership

style and approaches in this changing times and the knowledge economy on how to

respond to the changing environment and workforce as these changes have significant

impact on the roles of leaders and the new skills that need to be used by the leaders

(Van Leeuwen, 2003).

       Leadership development is one of the elements that are crucial to identify the

learning needs and create development plan for the employees and managers. A

leader must be able to manage changes and support employees as they move to the

new roles whilst holding more responsibilities. In exercising the leadership, a leader

must be able to respect other‟s ideas, provide acknowledgement and encouragement

in innovation. Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman Hashim sees that the new world and the new era of

business pattern require a new way of working

       According to Van Leeuwen, (2003). This applies not only to the workers but the

same to the managers or leaders to bear in mind that it is the time to develop new

competencies to sustain in leading the followers in a changing and challenging

environment. It is significant to delve into leadership behavior and effectiveness as the

expected outcome from an effective leadership does not only impact businesses or

organizations and stakeholders‟ satisfaction, it will also eventually lead to a proper

nation and community development (Strang, 2005).

       We can see the exemplary leadership that Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman Hashim has

demonstrated by transforming and leading Malayan Banking Berhad in 1970s to

become one of the successful bank in South East Asia and now AmBank Group

Berhad to the advancement and achievement.

       Today, Malaysian corporate leaders are facing the challenges in both training

and development. The market is in the scarcity of good managers and professionals.

Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman Hashim has demonstrated with globalization, there must a

paradigm shift where the business leader has to be creative, innovative and promoted

idea sharing. Any leader in an organization will have to practice leadership style and

approaches, best suit the current development, changes and challenges in the 21st



         Many factors influence the success of an organization's leader. Skills,

opportunity, temperament and intelligence all play a part (Kouzes & Posner, 1987).

Here are some of the characteristics that distinguished the successes from the failures

in leadership:

      a) Successful leaders must model management behavior to their immediate

         subordinates, and from there throughout the organization. Double standards

         are unhealthy and so the way a leader wants his or her managers and

         supervisors to behave has to be the way the leader behaves.

      b) Successful leaders clearly communicate specific performance expectations to

         their immediate subordinates.

      c) The best leaders don't tolerate incompetence anywhere in their organizations.

         They hold people accountable for the expected performance.

      d) Top leaders see that procedures are in place so that direction of the work force

         is systematic, orderly, managed and not left to chance. By using them, the

         leader can positively influence how all people in the organization behave and


      e) Successful leaders are not lazy -- they always work hard. A proactive leader

         can improve the probability of organizational success, whereas a laissez-faire

         approach is likely to cause the organization's demise.

f)   Successful leaders know when to make decisions and they avoid excessive

     consensus and compromise. Poor leaders tend to avoid decisions if the

     consequences might upset someone: they defer the responsibility for tough

     decisions to others.

g) Good leaders develop through a never ending process of self-study, education,

     training, and experience. Good leaders are continually working and studying to

     improve their leadership skills and style.

          In the studies of Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman Hashim‟s leadership style and

approaches, we can first started from the very beginning of the Great Man Approach


          The Great Man Approach was the earliest theory of leadership. It was a study

based on the traits inherited and special features that a leader possesses. “It is a

leadership approach that sought to identify the inherited traits leaders possessed that

distinguished them from people who were not leaders.” (Draft, 2005). In the case of

Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman Hashim, the theory of leadership was then expanded to study the

personality, motives, values and his skills as a leader. The common traits, qualities,

characteristics and skills required that have been identified are in the aspect of his

sociability, initiative, persistence, knowing how to get things done, self confidence,

alertness to situations, cooperativeness popularity, adaptability and verbal facility.

          There are two aspects in this approach. The first aspect was looking at the Tan

Sri Dato‟ Azman Hashim‟s responsibilities and abilities in carrying the tasks, coping

with constraints and conflict as in 1980an economic downturn and managing the

heavily debted Taiping Textiles Berhad and Arab-Malaysia Development Bank. He has

to think the unthinkable approaches at that time by renting the Arab-Malaysian

Development Bank Headquarters in Kuala Lumpur for RM1.50 sq compare to the

normal rate of RM5.00 plus 3 month free rent. Quality control, cost effective measures

and tendency to get thing done quickly but thoroughly are among his famous traits.

       Charismatic leadership attributes to how a leader uses his or her influence to

inspire and motivate their followers to sacrifice their personal interest towards the

vision (Yukl, 2006; Draft, 2005). Picture 1 below clearly shown the relation between

effective leader and his follower, which is depending on situation influential. As a

charismatic leader, Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman Hashim has a great emotional impact on the

followers. As the leader he has the ability to communicate and express his vision /idea

clearly so that the his followers are willing to take the risk just to abide to what the

leader has inspired them to follow.

       In 1997 economic slowdown, he almost lost everything through a plan set by

the government to absorb Arab Malaysian Bank Berhad under the management of

Affin Holding Group. He not only managed to convinced the government not to went

ahead with the Central Bank merger program, but also taking the advantage of

increase his stake by initiating the formation of merger between . MBf Finance and

Arab-Malaysian Finance Berhad, into what is known today as „The Red Bank‟, Ambank

Group Berhad. In 2005, AmBank Group has become the fifth largest commercial bank-

finance company in Malaysia with a total asset of 45 billion and 164 branches


                                   PICTURE 1
                          FACTORS OF LEADERSHIP

       Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman Hashim can be considered as a participative leadership.

He is not only involved in banking, but also expanding his interest in real estate and

investment. He believes, a leader must be able to maintain a good reputation of an

organization not only on the profit margin made, how much of the sales target being

met but how ethical an organization can carry out its operation and maintain

transparent business records.

       These efforts can been best seen through his direct involvement in major

corporate organization, government initiate entity and NGOs such as        Malaysian

South-South    Corporation   Berhad,    MCM    Technologies    Berhad,   Perbadanan

Pembangunan Multimedia Sdn Berhad, Persatuan Bank- Bank Saudagar Malaysia,

Perbadanan Pengeluaran Negara, Pasific Basin Economic Council Malaysia, Yayasan

Persatuan Perubatan Malaysia, Malaysian-British dan Malaysia-China Business

Council, Asean-Japan Business Meeting, Malaysian Investment Banking Association,

National Productivity Corporation, Malaysia-British Business Council, Malaysia-China

Business Council, International Advisory Panel, Bank Negara Malaysia, International

Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF), International Advisory Panel,World

Islamic Economic Forum and Leader of the ASEAN-Japanese Business Meeting

(Malaysia Committee, Keizai Doyukai).

       In achieving the great leadership , it is common to a successful leaders such as

Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman Hashim to be able to challenge the process by finding a process

that he believe needs to be improved the most. On the same time, inspire a shared

vision and share his vision in words that can be understood by all

       Tan Sri Dato‟ Azman Hashim is a great man. He not only enables others to act

by giving them the tools and methods to solve the problem but also model the way.

When the process gets tough, he gets his hands dirty.


       There could be many definitions of leadership as well as many ways to

measure leadership effectiveness. However, the essence of leadership is actually a

process of influence between a leader and an organization moving towards a common

goal. Therefore, along the way or process to the path, “mutual understanding between

the leader and the organization about the specific behaviors and professional practices

that are associated with exemplary leadership is an essential component of effective

leadership. Tan Sri Dato' Azman Hashim has contributed greatly to the corporate

activity in Malaysia through his strong commitment in work, vast experience and sheer



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Draft, R. L. (2005). The Leadership Experience. (3rd ed.). Toronto: Thompson South

Kouzes, James M. & Posner, Barry Z. (1987). The Leadership Challenge. San
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Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.


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Description: In Malaysia, during the early years of 1980s, almost all prominent leaders in corporate success are more like the entrepreneur type. These managers are namely Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew, Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong and Tan Sri Inrathdas Jethanand who only had a basic education. However in this 21st century, globalization present a new challenge to the corporate leadership whereby we can see the leaders in today’s corporate world who are highly educated such as Tan Sri T Ananda Krishnan of Maxis Berhad, who is a MBA graduate and once an accountant, Tan Sri Dato’ Azman Hashim of AmCorp Group Berhad. This paper tries to explore the contributions of the Tan Sri Dato’ Azman Hashim as a corporate leader, his leadership qualities and his approaches to the organizations success.