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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.
Leadership and Business Trait A study on Tan Sri Dato’ Azman Hashim AMGROUP MALAYSIA CHAIRMAN 1.0 INTRODUCTION 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. 1 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. 2.0 BACKGROUND ‘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 Malaysia 2 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 today. 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. 3 3.0 LEADERSHIP QUALITIES 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 4 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. 5 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. 6 4.0 LEADERSHIP STYLE AND APPROACHES 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). 7 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 century. 8 5.0 EVOLVING APPROACHES OF LEADERSHIP- TAN SRI DATO’ AZMAN HASHIM 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 perform. 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. 9 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. 10 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 theory. 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. 11 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. 12 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 nationwide. PICTURE 1 FACTORS OF LEADERSHIP 13 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). 14 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. 15 6.0 CONCLUSION 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 leadership. 16 REFERENCES Abdul Razak, M. N. (2006). Globalizing Malaysia towards Building a Developed Nation. Selangor: MPH Group Publishing. Ahmad Saufi, R., Wafa, S. A., & Zainun Hamzah, M. Y. (2000). Leadership Style Preferences Of Malaysian Managers. Malaysian Management Review, 1-9. Amstrong, M. (2004). How to Be an Even Better Manager. A Complete A-Z of Proven Techniques And Essential Skills. London and Sterling, VA: Kogan AmGroup Website. At www.ambg.com Retrieved on 11 February 2010 Bass, Bernard (1989). Stogdill's Handbook of Leadership: A Survey of Theory and Research. New York: Free Press. Draft, R. L. (2005). The Leadership Experience. (3rd ed.). Toronto: Thompson South Western. Kouzes, James M. & Posner, Barry Z. (1987). The Leadership Challenge. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Strang, K. D. (2005). Examining Effective and Ineffective Transformational Project Leadership. Team Performance Management, 11, 3/4, 68-103. Tannenbaum, R., Weschler, I. R., & Massarik, F. (1961). Leadership Organization: A Behavioral Science Approach. New York: McGraw-Hill. Van Leeuwen, M. (2003). “The impact of the knowledge economy on leadership in organizations”. In Hlupic, V. (Eds.), Knowledge and Business Process Management. London: Idea Group Publishing. Yukl, G. (2006). Leadership in Organizations. (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. 17
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