Requisites for Sustainable Leadership – Unquestionable Integrity, Competence and Humility – INCEIF

Requisites for Sustainable Leadership – Unquestionable Integrity, Competence and Humility


INCEIF University Kuala Lumpur, 19 April 2024 – Sustainable leadership is a holistic approach that combines integrity, competence, and humility. It requires continuous learning, innovation, and a focus on both personal and organisational fundamentals, says INCEIF’s Professor of Practice Tan Sri Abd Wahid Omar.

Tan Sri Wahid, who is the Chairman of Bursa Malaysia, shared invaluable insights on leadership with students, alumni and guests at the INCEIF Career Talk on campus. He is regarded as one of the most accomplished corporate leaders in Malaysia having successfully led as the CEO of three major organisations in infrastructure development (UEM Group 2001 – 2004), telecommunications (Telekom Malaysia 2004 – 2008) and financial services (Maybank 2008 – 2013). He served as the Group Chairman of Permodalan Nasional Berhad, Malaysia’s largest fund management company, from August 2016 to June 2018 following completion of his term as a Senator and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Economic Planning from June 2013 to June 2016.

Drawing from his rich and diverse experience, Tan Sri Wahid emphasised that becoming a good and sustainable leader required more than just hard work and intelligence. He outlined three essential prerequisites: Unquestionable Integrity, Competence, and Humility.

  1. Unquestionable Integrity

Integrity, as described by Tan Sri Abd Wahid Omar, is about “doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” In simple terms, it means refraining from cheating, stealing, lying, and engaging in bribery. A leader with integrity is professional, honest, sincere, and truthful to all stakeholders, including the Board, management colleagues, and employees. Admitting mistakes and learning from them is also a crucial aspect of maintaining integrity.

  1. Competence

Competence is not just about having knowledge and skills; it’s about using them effectively to perform the job well. A competent leader is clear in purpose, visionary, articulate, and engaging. In today’s dynamic business environment, CEOs are expected to be more hands-on and provide guidance on how tasks should be accomplished.

  1. Humility

Humility is about treating people with mutual respect, staying grounded, and recognizing that we all serve a greater purpose in life. It’s also about acknowledging that no one knows everything and that teamwork is essential for success.

On lessons learnt on personal and organisational leadership skills throughout his career, Tan Sri Wahid said a good leader should be authentic and doesn’t necessarily have to be loud to be effective. Instead, focus on the current role and responsibilities rather than worrying about the next career move as your reputation would speak for itself.

He suggested addressing the fundamentals rather than focusing solely on form as substance was crucial; “form without substance leads nowhere.”

He added that leaders should embraced technology and sustainability, to keep up with innovations and thinking outside the box for solutions.

Tan Sri Wahid listed 10 Thoughts on Leadership and Sustainability as:

  1. Sustainable leaders believe in purpose. Doing good leads to gaining barakah, InShaAllah.
  2. Embrace the three key attributes of a good leader: Integrity, Competence, and Humility.
  3. There are no shortcuts to success; hard work and smart work are essential.
  4. Continuous learning is vital.
  5. Leverage technology to your advantage.
  6. Address the fundamentals first before considering branding or rebranding.
  7. Innovation is key. Think outside the box or find new opportunities (“blue ocean”).
  8. Keep up with technological advancements and sustainability practices.
  9. Focus on your tasks and perform them to the best of your ability.
  10. Maintain physical health and well-being, and cultivate a positive attitude by being grateful, helpful, kind, and pleasant.

Lastly, Tan Sri Wahid said a leader’s reputation would precede them, making it essential to uphold these values consistently.

INCEIF University prides itself with a sizeable roster of accomplished individuals as Professor of Practice and Adjunct Professor. They include former Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Tan Sri Nor Shamsiah Yunus, current Chairman of a number of listed companies Dato’ Mohammed Hussein and Malaysia Building Society Berhad CEO Rafe Haneef. These individuals bring with them diverse knowledge and experience which are of invaluable contribution to our students’ journey at INCEIF.

For Tan Sri Wahid’s presentation slides, click


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