by VS Ravi


I not only think but also look and study things carefully. When I travel around, I look at things carefully, make comparisons of what I see. I don’t accept things at face value; you cannot trust what you hear or see. Don’t jump to conclusions without thinking.

~ Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad


I have been teaching about leadership for the past 25 years. Many schools of leadership tend to focus on how to develop leadership skills, leadership styles, the types of qualities that leaders should possess and the capabilities that leaders should display. I disagree with the emphasis of those teachings.

You cannot compel an individual to adhere to a set of skills, styles, qualities and capabilities that are derived from other leaders. That is merely an imitation of leadership. On the contrary, leadership needs to be authentic and original. Leadership is within our DNA because as humans we have this survival instinct enrooted in our behaviour.

Each one of us has our own identity, style, skills and qualities. We will pass through three leadership development stages: AWARENESS, ABILITY and ADAPTABILITY. Some of us experience the stages earlier, others later, while there are those who never fully develop those stages in their lifetime.

The catalyst that ignites and amplifies each individual’s leadership skills, style, qualities and capabilities across all three stages of leadership development is Intellect Thinking.

Without that initial catalyst of Intellect Thinking, all your company’s expensive investments in your human capital training and development will go to waste, or at best, be effective for only a limited period.

Whenever I teach the “Art & Science of the Practice of Intellect Thinking: The Mind of an Intellect Leader” I use Nelson Mandela as an example of an Intellect Thinker.

Now we have another example of an Intellect Thinker: Dr Mahathir, a living legend who is the Architect, Engineer, Tactician and Strategist that brought an unprecedented historic change to Malaysia on 9 May 2018 by dethroning the ruling government which had continuously remained in power since the nation’s independence in 1957.

I consider Dr Mahathir an Intellect Thinker, not merely because of what happened in Malaysia’s recent general election, but also because of the evidence accumulated from my research in the last 6 months studying his interviews, speeches and videos, both past and present.

Dr Mahathir’s quote above (at the beginning of this article) is just one example of how he engages Intellect Thinking. His former counterpart, the late premier Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, had famously said, “Even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong, I will get up.” That is also the mindset exemplified by Dr Mahathir as the embodiment of an Intellect Thinker.