The story of Leaderonomics
By KAMINI SINGGAM
Imagine a world that is enterprising, constantly on the move, guided by leaders who are values-driven, and teeming with opportunities for growth in all aspects of life. This is the vision that drives Leaderonomics – a social enterprise that is constantly running ahead of the game to revolutionise leadership development for our society.
Leaderonomics co-founder Ang Hui Ming recalls that the idea to form this organisation took shape at a time when many of her friends and friends of friends were leaving Malaysia in search of a brighter future for themselves and their children. She wasn’t keen on leaving but she understood why they felt they had to. Frustrated with the way things were being run in the country and armed with a burning desire to make a change in whatever small way they could, Ang and a few of her friends came together to brainstorm.
They discerned that the best way to initiate sustainable change is to harness the energy of the youth who would eventually be the leaders of tomorrow. The team drew upon their collective corporate experience to address the challenges, inspirations and ideals that were the need of the hour. They developed frameworks for honing leadership skills in young people and envisioned a future in which influential leaders are guided by the right values and principles.
The idea to form this organisation took shape at a time when many of her friends and friends of friends were leaving Malaysia in search of a brighter future for themselves and their children.
When these pioneering Leaderonomers realised that the same attributes they had worked to develop in the youth were also short on supply in corporations and communities, they decided to start a business that would also address these needs at the organisational level. This paved the way for the establishment of Leaderonomics as a social enterprise.
“We were very clear on not branding ourselves as a non-governmental organisation (NGO). I have been with NGOs and knew very well that by going down that route, we might have to worry about financial stability and sustainability to an extent that could cause us to lose sight of our core mission. So we created a business plan that would allow us to be sustainable and carry out our social initiatives all the same,” says Ang.
Leaderonomics was incorporated in February 2007 and officially commenced operation in August 2008.
One vision, different expressions
The company believes in transforming the nation one leader at a time. It aims to change the world by empowering people to take initiative, build genuine and professional relationships, grow through lifelong learning, give generously and build the future by challenging perceptions and executing the right ideas. These objectives sum up the organisation’s core values and vision.
Currently, Leaderonomics works towards its objectives via three complementary yet distinct business focuses represented by its corporate, media and community arms.
“The corporate arm is our bread and butter. The work we do there earns us credibility in the marketplace as a leader in the realm of leadership development while our community arm aims to develop leaders at the youth and campus level through various youth-led initiatives transforming young people into change agents within their communities,” says Ang. “The mission of Leaderonomics Media, meanwhile, is to make relevant and quality leadership development content accessible to the public across industries, both locally and regionally.”
Ang adds: “It is challenging to keep all three components (corporate, community and media) alive, especially when there is business pressure. But all three, individually and collectively, serve as reminders of why we do what we do.”
Recommended reading: Our vision, values and what we do
An inherent social focus
The decision to position Leaderonomics as a social enterprise was a natural outcome of the organisation’s raison d’etre. What sets its approach to being a social enterprise apart, however, is that instead of channeling a portion of its profits into social causes, the company harnesses the same core competencies that generate revenue to realise social benefits in the larger community.
The enterprise does not focus its efforts on short-term impact programmes nor does it, at any one time, target specific disadvantaged groups like, say, the learning disabled, single mothers, orang asli communities or the hardcore poor. Instead, Leaderonomics banks on delivering long-term high-impact social outcomes by equipping young people of all backgrounds with leadership skills and values through their community programmes. Leaderonomers believe that every good leader they help to raise up will in turn initiate positive changes that multiply across his or her community and contribute to a stronger nation.
Although leadership development is an intangible product whose impact eludes easy quantification, its effects are wide-ranging and visible in areas such as personal decision-making or driving organisational excellence, in addition to nurturing a culture of giving and growing.
For the founding team, Leaderonomics started as a vision they took a chance upon. The ensuing opportunities have since been leveraged strategically to grow a thriving enterprise that they hope will eventually transform societies not only in Malaysia but across the region.
Why we do what we do
Group chief executive officer and co-founder
Almost 10 years before we set up Leaderonomics, I had a burning question that plagued me – why do certain communities thrive whilst others languish in poverty and despair? I decided to explore
the question with a series of experiments. What began as a small project resulted in a profound insight. It became clear that everything rises and falls on leadership. It was easy to go into a poor community and give them funds and help them with the issues they faced today. But that would be temporal relief. What these communities needed were leaders who could help them
Leadership was a key missing element in all these communities but there were no means to bring leadership development to these communities. We knew if we helped grow one person into a leader, he or she would then be able to transform their community and if we kept repeating this over and over, nations would be transformed.
Today, this vision remains the heartbeat of Leaderonomics – providing leadership development to all, including those who cannot afford it, especially impacting the lives of children and youth. And the vision has become even bolder. At Leaderonomics, we have now grown into a global organisation, staying true to our calling but investing heavily in research and development in leadership development. Our research is now the cornerstone of our highly-acclaimed action-learning curriculum, which explores new areas of leadership including brain research, emotional intelligence, Asian leadership, and new means to lead.
Today, we are proud to see numerous global organisations leverage and partner with us in our media, corporate and community work.
Ang Hui Ming
Enterprise leader and co-founder
When Roshan shared his insights on how critical leadership education was and how scarce it was in the developing world, especially in rural schools and villages, we all knew that this was a calling worth investing our lives for. Many social enterprises give shoes, funding or food to the poor but those never solve the root of the issues in these challenged communities. But this vision at Leaderonomics was about going to the heart of the problem and fixing the root causes.
At Leaderonomics, we believe that everyone is a leader – whether a youth passionate about a cause, a parent leading the family, chief executive officers driving organisational growth or even politicians making a difference. We are devoted to provide the learning and development for everyone from the formative stage of leadership to the highest level of leadership to enable everyone to fulfill their potential and become the leader they were meant to be.