Good Leadership Skills Uncovered – Key Lessons from a Thai Village
A Simple Definition of Good Leadership Skills
For anyone seeking good leadership skills our village leader provided nine key lessons. Check out below the video a fantastic real life example of good leadership skills from a small Thai village
A simple definition of “Leadership” would be the capacity to stimulate a group of people to achieve specific objectives that would have been considered impossible to meet without the input, support and guidance of the leader shows good leadership skills.
Before we look at our village leader example check out this excellent short video on Strong Leadership Qualities from master trainer, Joe Denner. Enjoy!
In Thailand the leader of the family is referred to as the “phu yai” and a village is called a “ban,” so the leader of a village is the “phu yai ban.”
With the full support of our village leader, Thai Silk Magic cooperative operates from our small Thai village. Our village of Ban Dong Yang contains a rich blend of cultures as its located only a few miles from both the Laos and Cambodian borders.
Our Village Leader
Our village leader has achieved impressive results by applying simple yet remarkably effective leadership skills.
Thai culture is hierarchal and primarily Buddhist. People are very comfortable with the concept that certain individuals in the community deserve to have power. They believe that people in power achieved this situation by accumulating merit in earlier existences.
Two Distinctive Thai Values
By combining two very distinctive Thai values on a daily basis our village leader has created changes that many thought impossible. The two key leadership values are the application of power of authority and the traditional system of patronization or paternal father-like approach to the leadership role.
Our village leader applies his traditional authority with toughness and great clarity so that no one is left wondering what the objectives are, why they are important or exactly how each individual can contribute.
Village leaders are expected to exercise responsibility for decision making called “phraket.” This responsibility is rarely delegated but our leader encourages all constructive ideas prior to making any important decisions. After all, he is also a politician who will face re-election in four years. His tenure in the position will rest on his capacity to display good leadership skills.
Welfare Based Leadership
At the same time, the village leader acts as a village patron or father in his approach to all village members. He helps and cares for all family members as if they were his own. By taking a real interest in their personal welfare, despite the demands on his time, he creates very strong bonds, engenders great loyalty and can effectively demand enthusiastic support for village improvement projects. This paternal process called “phrakhun” is highly valued by Thai.
The Right Balance
Good leadership skills are evident when the leader strikes the right balance of “phraket” and “phrakhun.” Excessive use of authority without perceived care for the people or an inability to exercise his power (make the tough decisions) despite his village popularity, will see him replaced as village leader at the next election.
Real Example of Good Leadership Skills
An example of good leadership skills in action occurred in late 2008; our new village leader proposed a major project to upgrade the main village dirt roads. Our roads became impassable mud holes every year during the three months of monsoon rains.
With limited available local government funds we had complained for years about this problem with little or no response. We did not think the leader’s proposed project was at all possible. We had given up on the chance to have better village roads.
Undaunted by the initial village response our village leader approached and negotiated a deal with a nationwide raw material supplier. The company agreed to provide the road material supplies, an experienced supervisor and machinery at a very low cost.
In return we would provide all the required labour to the company free of charge for the six weeks construction period. Plus we would provide an additional fifty people free of charge for one month that the company could use at its discretion. The village leader also proposed that we would supply all the local company employees and their families with rice for the six weeks road construction period.
Our village had just completed one of its most successful rice harvests and, with no local employment opportunities we had normally hard-working labour idle for a few months. This idleness often created problems and our village leader wanted to avoid this difficult problem. The village leader also knew that the raw material supplier was looking to expand its operation and needed more labour to successfully open two new outlets.
Setting Out the Plan Details
The phu yai ban held a village meeting and used good leadership skills to communicate his plan in a very clear step-by-step process that included the specific requirements of our village workers and their families. This ranged from the length of time of the project, daily working conditions, types of work to be performed, the actual work roles of the leader, the concept of working for no pay during the project, organizing transportation plus the type and amount of food supplies required from the workers’ families.
The road project outlined was a wonderful surprise to all of us and we resoundingly agreed to the proposal.
We got our cement roads completed in very quick time with the phu yai ban doing daily progress inspections, organizing the provision of refreshments, providing encouragement and overseeing the provision of meals at the end of each day for all workers. We can now easily drive around our village and even walk to our local shop without losing our shoes in deep mud holes.
The raw material supply company successfully launched their two new outlets. Fourteen of our village people have remained with the company in paid employment positions, including three as supervisors.
Rewards and Recognition
At the completion of the project the phu yai ban arranged a special presentation of recognition gifts and awards for the key members of the project. All employees of the now three local company outlets plus our entire village attended a great night of presentations and entertainment held at our village school.
The highly valued gifts presented truly underlined the real appreciation of the company and our village for a project that exceeded all expectations. As a result of news reports of this function, other villages in our region have indicated their interest into how we achieved such a project result after so many years of failure.
Some Additional Spin-Offs
The project was also completed well under budget and we used the savings to completely renovate and re-stock our village shop much to the delight of all the kids who now had ice cream available.
An additional spin-off was that twelve of our local village boys, who were just finishing high school, were offered apprenticeship positions with the nationwide company. This was very important as there are no regular employment opportunities in our village.
Everyone was delighted with the outcome of this project. For his wisdom, support and overall good leadership skills our phu yai ban was showered with gifts, including some silk fabric, made by our very own Thai Silk Magic village weavers.
Key Lessons We Can Learn
For anyone seeking good leadership skills our village leader provided the following nine key lessons:
Clearly identify your group’s strengths and weaknesses
- Look for joint ventures where your group’s strengths can add value
- Seek input from all relevant parties
- Make the tough decisions
- Communicate clearly all aspects of the project so that everyone understands and appreciates the importance of their specific input
- Inspect what you expect
- Show genuine interest and care for all people concerned
- Keep your power of authority and workers concerns in balance
- Be prepared to generously reward and recognize your key participants with high quality gifts that will be an enduring reminder of goals achieved.
The good leadership skills of the phu yai ban have generated even greater loyalty and respect that should see him remain in power for a very long time.
Let us give you some leadership by directing you to SUBSCRIBE WITH US whilst you are here. Simply provide your details in the box provided right herec on this page. You will be both amazed and totally delighted with your Exclusive Discounts, our personal approach to business as well as the superb quality of our fabrics and scarves!