Leadership and entrepreneurship are about thinking as well as doing: Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas

An experienced chairman of award winning companies and vision holder of successful transformation programmes, he is the author of over 60 books and reports.

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Here is the final part of the text of Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas* talk at Gyan Diksha Samaroh Commencement Ceremony of 22nd Academic Session at Sri Sharada Institute of Indian Management-Research, New Delhi held on September 2, 2017

Continue from Part-2

Look for opportunities to contribute and to add value. There are many people drawing from the well of knowledge and civilisation and far too few replenishing the supply.

Be hopeful. Learn to live with uncertainty. In whatever situation you find yourself, tomorrow is another day. Life may not always seem fair to you, but you can still try to be fair to others.

Turn threats and challenges into inclusive opportunities. There are opportunities to ameliorate negative consequences, opportunities to help people to cope, and opportunities to develop alternatives and substitutes.

Do not pass up opportunities. Try to live your life today so that you will have few regrets in the future. Don’t be impatient or in too much of a hurry. At the same time don’t procrastinate.

Use your time and that of others wisely. Use it to create outcomes, offerings and solutions that are better, unique, special or different. Disruptive technologies, digital developments and greater connectivity break down barriers and open up new possibilities. We have more options in terms of where, when, how and with whom to work, learn, consume and share than any generation in history.

We also have more opportunities to lead, manage, help and support others. A business can become a cause. Dreams can become realistic goals. Network across communities. Look beyond labels and symbols of race, religion and nationality at motivation, conduct and contribution.

Openness and a diversity of complementary talents and personalities within a group can stimulate creativity, enable innovation and support entrepreneurship.

Leadership and entrepreneurship are about thinking as well as doing. Many of you will become self employed and entrepreneurs. Rather than be a piece on someone else’s chessboard, you will create your own games and build your own businesses.

Apparently, the most visited place on our planet is not a contemporary oracle, a seat of great learning or a world heritage site, but a shopping mall in Dubai. Many people search for things rather than for thoughts. Another reason why you are so precious.

Going with the flow and following the crowd can sometimes be fatal. Effective directors avoid groupthink and exercise independent judgement. They are also tolerant of others and try to understand their viewpoints.

Think for yourself, but – where appropriate – listen to informed counsel. Take objective, honest, balanced and relevant advice. Encourage people to discuss, critique and refine. Aims and outcomes are improved by questioning and challenge.

We don’t want change for changes sake. We have to safeguard scarce natural capital. We need caution and prudence as well as energy and drive.

Focus. Concentrate. Less can be more. Avoid distractions and avoid getting into debt.

Being dependent upon others or under obligation to them can limit independence of thought. It can prejudice the giving of objective and honest advice. Being forced by necessity to keep in with others can breed accommodation, flattery and groupthink.

Try to be inner directed and self-motivated. Just as you should not flatter or deceive others, so you should not be distracted by their attention, flattery and deceit.

Whatever recognition others give or do not give you – whether genuine or false – should not affect your opinion of yourself, if you have done your best to do what you believe to be right. If you avoid self-deception, you will know your motives, what you have done and what you have achieved.

Having a place you associate with or call home can give you an anchor and a foundation, somewhere to return to and recharge your batteries. For some of you, this institute and community could be such a place.

We cannot claim credit for being born smart. You will all deserve credit for making the best use of whatever capabilities you have inherited and/or develop. Use them to benefit yourself, your families, your communities, your country and the wider world.

Listen, learn and lead.

Read Part -1: People and organisations should aim high: Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas

Read Part 2: Threats and challenges have been an ever present feature of the human experience: Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas

*Prof. (Dr) Colin Coulson-Thomas has helped directors in over 40 countries to improve director, board and corporate performance. In addition to directorships he leads the International Governance Initiative of the Order of St Lazarus, is Director-General, IOD India, UK and Europe, chair of United Learning’s Risk and Audit Committee, Chancellor and a Professorial Fellow at the School for the Creative Arts, Honorary Professor at the Aston India Foundation for Applied Research, a Distinguished Professor at the Sri Sharada Institute of Indian Management-Research and a member of the advisory boards of Bridges of Sports and the Arvind Foundation, and ACCA’s Governance, Risk and Performance Global Forum.

Colin has held public appointments at local, regional and national level and professorial appointments in Europe, North and South America, Africa, the Middle East, India and China. He was educated at the London School of Economics, London Business School, UNISA and the Universities of Aston, Chicago and Southern California. He is a fellow of seven chartered bodies and obtained first place prizes in the final exams of three professions.

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