Lahore School of Economics

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Leadership

Mr. Arif Ijaz, one of the most senior speakers in Pakistan, CEO of many companies in the past, senior advisor at Maple Leaf Cement now and a long-term friend of the Lahore School paid a visit to us on October 21, 2014 to deliver a talk on Leadership to Lahore School MBA candidates in Organizational Behavior.


Arif, a brilliant speaker, captivated his audience immediately not only through the colorful and insightful anecdotes culled from years of managing companies in Pakistan but also through his wit and charm. Throughout the 100 minutes allocated to him he interacted with the class, answering a hundred questions in the last 45 minutes. At the end of the class, some 50 hands were still up in the air and that made him happy.

Arif’s main theme was that leadership at the national level (Jinnah, Mandela, Churchill) and at the organizational level in the corporate context were different, and thus required a different set of skills (but some could be common). Complexity and ever-changing environment were the name of the game in business contexts – Just to bring coal from another continent over to a particular designation in Pakistan in the cement industry context involved many variables.


True to his characteristic way of speaking, he talked about Maple Leaf Cement and how he and his team had delivered marinated mutton to cement dealers on the Eid day, or how his team wishes birthday to their dealers, who in turn often cry when they get to hear these wishes! A brand is made not through billboards or advertising but through effective “touching of the human consciousness” as he so powerfully put it.


His other theme was that great leaders “enable” the followers to become leaders in turn. A leader is not a “VIP” and does not need a large office or a big car. His job is to enable those around him to do a better job. For that, humility is key and this is one area where many leaders in Pakistan are deficient. Good leaders handle complexity better. Leaders do not use punishment often and if at all, then very rarely. They motivate people by raising their self-esteem, not by lowering it!

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10/22/2014 09:54:00 AM,

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