BYLC Founder and President Ejaj Ahmad On Management and Leadership
Ejaj Ahmad is the founder and President of Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center. Mr. Ahmad is a terrific personality and has an astounding body of work. In a recent interview with Future Startup, he shares his thoughts on leadership and management as well as on a host of other interesting topics.
“I believe that empowering people and letting them run with projects and ideas and take full ownership is a better way of getting things done,” Mr. Ahmad tells FS. “More often than not, I have seen people rise to the occasion when I have trusted them to deliver on something.”
In other words, Mr. Ahmad says contrary to widely held assumption that you need to assert control in order to drive result, you should empower people, allow your teammates to make decisions and take initiatives and make mistakes. Then Mr. Ahmad continues to explain how he promotes the idea of long-term thinking and discipline among his people.
“At BYLC, I tell my colleagues that we are in the business of building an enduring institution. We are running a marathon, not a sprint,” tells Mr. Ahmad, “And we have to save ourselves from burning out. I try to promote a disciplined approach to work. I encourage people to be physically active and to read as much as they can. Reading is a part of our culture at BYLC.”
“I think leadership is a lifelong learning process. It is useful to perceive leadership as an activity or an experiment. Viewing leadership this way gives us the permission to try new things and be open to failure” says Ahmad. “If we want to be successful 100 percent of the time, exercising leadership would be extremely difficult for us.”
This is a particularly important idea. We often maintain unrealistic expectations of our leaders and of ourselves when we lead. The common assumption that leaders should not mistake or fail is a dangerous one. Because discouraging failure causes inaction. An effective leader should be able to act with the right intention regardless of the potential result.
Later in the interview, Mr. Ahmad explores and elaborates on the mechanics and capabilities that are critical to the development and application of leadership.
“There are two capabilities that are central to the practice of leadership. The first is self-awareness—an understanding of who we are, our values and purpose. And the second is contextual awareness—an understanding of the environment we are in and how it is influencing us, how to interact with people around us, and how to mobilize them. I think life is a gift and our responsibility is to make sure that we treasure it, value it, and try to make it a gift to the world. That is my philosophy.”
Complement this thoughtful meditation on management and leadership with Mr. Ahmad’s complete long form interview we published a month ago, then with Asif Saleh’s exploration of career and leadership, then visit Arif Khan’s, CEO of IDLC, intriguing account of life lessons.