What Makes A Great Leader?

What Makes A Great Leader?

Sunday 5:13 PM

I am far from perfect as a leader, and I make tons of mistakes every day. However, I firmly believe that fairness is a fundamental responsibility of leadership. Every human being should be treated equally and fairly unless his/her actions show otherwise. At my companies, I try my best to nurture a culture of meritocracy whereby everyone is the master of his/her destiny. If you do good, good will come back to you. If you do bad, bad will come back to you. My friends joke around with me that my companies often look like the United Nations because there are so many nationalities represented. It is not a coincidence. We are ONE. As a leader, I try my best to find the best person for each job, irrespective of race, gender, religion, social status, education, nationality, sexual orientation, or any other typical corporate metric. I embrace diversity. I celebrate differences. I believe in meritocracy. From my experience, people who want to achieve the extraordinary in life come from all different backgrounds and from all walks of life. There is no cookie-cutter formula for rockstars. I have met lazy idiots with fancy Harvard degrees and I have met genius superstars without any formal education. The most important thing is to share common values of integrity, happiness, excellence, continuous improvement, teamwork, and loyalty. Beyond shared values, shared vision, and a common mission, everything and anything goes. For me, diversity is the mother of innovation. Creative ideas, different ways of thinking, fresh perspectives, and opposing views are the bedrock of any great company. A company that does not embrace innovation and open-mindedness is a company that will face certain death. This same truth goes for countries too.

Throughout my business career in the last 20+ years, I have had to make many tough and unpopular decisions that I did not necessarily want to take. I have also had the good fortune to live through 3 major global financial crises, and survive. I have had to fire good people who couldn’t make the grade. I have had to cut jobs in order to keep a company afloat. I have had to punish others for poor behavior to protect the rest of the team. I have had to ask decent, hard-working people to leave for all sorts of reasons like lying, stealing, egotistical behavior, laziness, etc. It is never fun or easy to deal with these types of situations, but it comes with the territory as a leader. Whenever I feel frustrated, upset, or angry at a given situation, I always take a pause and go back to gratitude. Through pure luck and good fortune, I have been blessed with the precious opportunity to help the world in a way that reflects my values and who I am. So, as a leader, it is my duty to strive to do the right thing always for the people I serve.

Ultimately, the only proof of good or bad leadership is the performance and happiness of the team that a leader serves. Whether it is the greatest countries in the world, the most successful companies in the world, the most feared military units in the world, or the winningest athletic teams in the world, everything begins and ends with great leadership.


Chatri Sityodtong is a self-made entrepreneur and lifelong martial artist from Thailand. His rags-to-riches life story has inspired millions around the world on BBC News, CNN, Financial Times, Bloomberg TV, CNBC, Channel NewsAsia, and other major media. He is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of ONE Championship, Asia’s largest global sports media property in history with a global broadcast to over 2.6 billion potential viewers across 140+ countries around the world. Forbes most recently selected Sityodtong as one of Asia’s next generation tycoons. He was also named “Asia’s King of Martial Arts” by the Financial Times and the “3rd Most Powerful Person in Sports in Asia” by FOX Sports. He is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at INSEAD, Europe’s top business school. Sityodtong holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from Tufts University.



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