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How to Be a Leader in a Modern Business

By Rafis Abazov

Updated January 14, 2022 Updated January 14, 2022

Although you’ll often hear lecturers and successful entrepreneurs talking about the importance of leadership in various career sectors. What that means, however, is changing, with new forms of leadership developing in this age of information and technological revolution. Here are some tips to be a better leader in today’s changing world.

Be a leader, both online and offline

Recent online research conducted by the MDP Global Classroom team found that 62 percent of respondents identified the importance of social skills for successful leadership. At the same time, 38 percent highlighted the importance of internet and social media skills - what experts in communication technologies refer to as “digital leadership”.

At Al Farabi Kazakh National University and our partner universities around the world, I’ve observed the increasing demand for these skills, particularly in modern, tech-infused workplaces. While it used to be enough to be comfortable talking to people in small and large groups, you now need to be a “digital leader” and be able to persuade and lead colleagues indirectly through social media.

Don’t be afraid to tackle big projects

More than half of my students wish to work for global corporations or international organizations after they graduate but can often get stuck thinking “small” when it comes to their class projects. I always suggest they think big and outside of the box to search for global opportunities and many universities are now offering programs that fit the bill.

For example, I suggest to my students that they explore working with the newly created Ban Ki-Moon Institute for Sustainable Development, which focuses on innovation-driven research and educational activities. Work like this is exactly the type of thing which can help students to develop their leadership skills.

Always be inspired, creative and motivated

One of the secrets of effective leadership lies in the ability to think creatively and unconventionally. Today, it’s not enough to arrive at the laboratory or center asking for work or an internship, it’s more important to show inspirational and creative leadership by offering your own vision and ideas and how they can be implemented.

Recently, we had two students who arrived at the university too late to join our capstone projects. However, they suggested their very own innovative idea for a new online creative and sophisticated multimedia solution for the Ban Ki-Moon Institute’s video blog. The idea was so creative, and the students were so motivated, that we agreed to start an additional capstone project just for them.

Read more: What is a capstone project? Why is it important?

Become an efficient project manager

When leading a project, you need to be able to deconstruct big ideas into small doable projects, which can be implemented and completed one at a time. Successful capstone teams in our MDP program don’t only come up with new creative ideas, they also envision a roadmap of small and manageable weekly steps which will lead to the completion of their projects.

Remember, great leadership and effective management are two sides of the same coin, as Stephen Covey once said: “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

Image credit: Rafis Abazov

This article was originally published in June 2018 . It was last updated in January 2022

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Written by

Dr Rafis Abazov is a visiting professor at Al Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he also manages a joint program with Earth Institute of Columbia University (New York, USA). He has written 10 books, including The Culture and Customs of the Central Asian Republics (2007) and has regularly contributed op-eds to The New York Times. Mr Abazov enjoys collecting rare books on British exploration of Central Asia and reading travelogues on Central Asia and the Middle East by Eugene Schuyler, Vladimir Bartold and Lord George Curzon. He has also authored photo exhibitions about his trips to Central Asian republics, Turkey and Afghanistan. 

Contact info: Office 1400 Rectorat, 71 Al Farabi Ave., Al Farabi KazNU, Almaty, 050040, Kazakhstan

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