COMMENT | Not many of us realise that to truly optimise our potential, transform our dreams into reality, lead others effectively and excel in the workplace, one must first learn how to lead oneself productively. Indeed, William Penn reminds us that “No man is fit to command another that cannot command himself.”

Examples of poor self-leadership abound. Take for example, a former CEO in the Malaysian banking industry who only listens to positive feedback. He automatically becomes defensive to constructive criticism and goes to great lengths to dispute the veracity of it. Not surprisingly, he was finally booted out of the organisation.

Another example is the “toxic” and arrogant attitude of an ex-president (“abrasive personality”) of a local university who was intimidating and insensitive to others. Within five years of his autocratic leadership, about 50 percent of his immediate employees “fired” him by resigning.

An excellent example of a renowned leader with a high sense of self-leadership is the late Ismail Mohamed Ali, the first Bank Negara Malaysia governor. He personified integrity in his professional and personal life; demonstrated high standards of self-discipline and work; and was willing to admit his mistakes...

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