I developed a new perspective of leadership – Kelvin Lai

I developed a new perspective of leadership

I’m telling each and every one of you that I still have no idea how I ended up here in #PowerShiftMsia. And after Sabah, I stopped caring because the lessons I’ve learned have trumped that of how I got pulled into it in the first place.

What have I learned, you ask.


Kelvin (right most) full of smiles with the group he mentored

Well, certainly not much new on climate change (I’ve already read half of the participant kit as of now and I’m telling you I’m just freaking proud of this leftover heat that I carried with me – #TahiAyamTetapHangat). But it was rather a paradigm shift of how I view leadership – t’was an elegant hell of a transformation that I’ve gone through in the 4 nights I stayed through the camp (yes, 4 nights; note to Amalen and Wei Peng’s testimonials where I actually came slightly too late for the photo on the first night, dayum).

it was rather a paradigm shift of how I view leadership

So how did I view leadership completely differently in the span of mere 4 sleep-deprived nights. Ever seen those comics that people use to illustrate better leadership version? A leader standing at the back of his team and moving forward along with everyone else, instead of being at the front and shoving everyone else behind him?

Those comical impressions are cliché and overused, you think? I know. They are. But hey, that’s exactly what I experienced and enjoyed during #PowerShiftMsia.14362558_954773937982756_4500359433047491536_o

Over the past 2 years, I’ve been an active student leader in my university, leading multiple projects and new initiatives encompassing multiple areas of interest. But, successes had always come with the price of the well-being of every team I came to lead. It was habitual of me to deduct the human factor off progress and development. I thought of this as a natural trade-off.

Until Power Shift Malaysia slapped me in the face. Or more precisely, Adrian. (Disclaimer: Kelvin was not harmed during the training)


Kelvin delivered a module on project planning and pitching

The way we had meetings, debriefings and any sort of discussions/dialogues/mamak chats literally turned the table for me. The way each mentor acted during the camp, to me, frustratingly incomprehensible at the beginning, followed by immense awe and relief when I began to see the value in what they do.

“As a mentor, your stand and opinion should not influence your mentee’s,” Adrian had this knocking over my head for a number of times. After having experimented with this leadership concept myself, I realized that there’s more than singular meaning to this.

My interpretation? Well, a mentor needs to clearly understand that mentee’s personal developments is the only thing that matters. A wise mentor creates capacity and space for independently processing of thoughts and information, catalyzing the generation of ideas, resolutions and reasons. A mentor can guide but the final decision totally lies on the mentee’s hands.

That’s why mentorship is needed. Mentors don’t tell you what your strengths and weaknesses are. They make you discover them by yourselves. Such mentorship style, of which now I truly understand, is perfectly applicable to my future leadership journey.

I developed a new perspective of leadership and mentorship. It’s about how leaders do not compromise progress and excellence for the accommodation of the weaker ones, but rather, embrace what makes us strong in the very first place – our differences, in thoughts, cultures, attitudes, aspirations, and strengths. It’s not about an individualistic championing and pursuit of excellence and perfection.

But rather, it is building the synergy collectively made of everyone’s excellence – diverse, vibrant, and powerful. And I’m applying such techniques and styles right now back home. It feels awesome, and I’m already addicted to its outcome.

I know it sounds a little too abstract, or probably, a little too sensationalized at this point. But hey, that’s how I feel. It’s life-changing. Kelvin out.

Testimonial by Kelvin Lai


Mentors’ tasks includes sweeping and mopping the floor. Kelvin in Green


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