Competing with China

How China redefines leadership…

As the clock struck 08:08:08 PM on 08/08/08, three words filled the air around 100,000 souls – “Citius, Altius, Fortius” – Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger” and motto of the modern Olympic games that has inspired hundreds of thousands of athletes in the past century. But what did it mean for China, a country that had never staged an international event of such a magnitude?

The Beijing 2008 Olympics were not just a symbol of China’s sporting prowess, but of becoming a powerful nation. So, is China perfect now? No doubt, it struggles with issues any other developing nation does, but by adopting the higher-faster-stronger principle, it manages to take the giant leap.

Time and again, we are faced with the question – “To do it the best?” or “To be the best?” The former reflects ability while the latter reflects attitude. The only way out is to set our eyes on “To be the best”. With the right attitude, ability can be fostered. But without attitude, ability is orphan.

In fact, I used this lesson in a feedback to one of my team member who was dissatisfied with his performance evaluation. His view was – “I’ve done better than I did last time”. In other words he did his best. But was he better than others? In these competitive times, one has to look outward for improvement – China’s “satellite vision” scans the world to see what is best. It then sets out to better it. Be it the Bird’s Nest or the Water Cube – world’s finest architects were hired to build these magnificent structures, a befitting example of China’s better-than-the-best mindset.

An ability to negotiate unknowns decides success or failure but when unknowns are near the finishing line, the most able often fail. If we have to succeed in any aspect, it will only be possible by striving to stay ahead of times. China’s ability to implement faster is its shining strength – all 31 venues were finished months ahead of the games.

It is finally about performance. My endeavor to lead by example helps my team to be successful because if I want my team to perform, I cannot achieve it without delivering my best performance. Quite remarkably, China set the example of excellence with a haul of 51 gold medals at 2008 Olympics, the highest ever for any nation.

But does progress come without change? Beijing carried out Zero Net Emissions Games by offsetting emissions from projects across China. The result – 2008 Olympics are synonymous with the phrase “Green Olympics”. To learn, unlearn and relearn is essential for bringing any change, but it is our agility and quest to question conventional wisdom that will set the wheels of change in motion.

To sum it up, leadership is the ability to lead by example, to lead with an aim to continuously evolve learning and to lead with a vision to inspire, and China is a leader because of its abilities, its achievements and most significantly, its attitude.


As we prepare to take the most important step of our professional lives, it can get no better than to start with setting foot in China,

As we prepare to taste the glory of China, it can only get better if we strive to become a leader just like what China is today….

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