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Transformational Leadership Plays a Crucial Role in Achieving Innovation and Competitiveness in Organizations Essay Sample

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Transformational Leadership Plays a Crucial Role in Achieving Innovation and Competitiveness in Organizations Essay Sample

1. Introduction

Form very early decades leadership have been a popular topic for argument. The research has provided with more clearly and specific explanation of leadership with several theories provided by many scholars’. One of the recent topics of leadership argument on transformational leadership is also specifically discussed in this paper. However, another main focus on this research paper is to enlighten the reader with the role of transformational leaders of Bangladesh and their contribution to their organizational success.

2. Definition of Leadership:

In recent changing world, leadership is one of the most important factors for any organizational success. Due to the organization’s complex & variable nature which sometimes become unable to resolve by the formal rules, plans, and structures formed earlier, in such kind of situation leadership plays a vital role. There are several ways of looking leadership and many interpretations are also available. There have a lot of research done by many scholars’ in this leadership topic. In simple terms, leadership is defined by Mullins (2008) & Robbins (1993) as ‘it influences others to do things willingly”. In some more broad terms leadership can be defined as “Leadership is a process of influencing, guiding and directing others with the clear view of the desired objective and providing an environment in which they are fully motivated to use their full potential to achieve the specified goal or objective of the organization (McShane,2003) (Nelson, 2003).

Leadership has been an important topic for research for the days of Greek Philosophers and many organizational scholars have provided their statement. However as leadership is a critical phenomenon in organization due to different culture and different tradition there layers no extract pinning down of what leadership is. A leader advocates for new and innovative ideas and try to come with new approaches in decision making in solving problems. Those who are an effective leader help groups of people to teach and empower in order to increase their efficiency in achieving organizational success.

According to Levine’s research leaders need to focus on moving people and organization forwarded by increasing the competency of staff and the co-operation of teams in order to improve the organization (Mullins, 2008). Another definition given by Hersery and Blanchard is that leaders work to influence their subordinates’ activities in order to accomplish their organizational goals in a situation (Hussain, 2003). So a leadership is not just to allocate resources altering communication pattern proper utilization of resources it is also to motivate, encourage, inspire the workers to achieve a desire goal or solve a difficult problem.

3. Traditional Approaches to Leadership

As a leadership is complex and variable in nature, many analyses have been done in explaining it more clearly. Two earliest approaches done on leadership are trait theories and behavioral theories. In trait theory the research has focused on the personal characteristics of a leader where on the other hand behavioral theory certain behaviors are shown which distinguishes leaders from followers and the role of such behavior in achieving high performance. In our research we have tried to uncover such kind of theories more specifically and their effect in organizational goals. Though many new approaches are generated in today’s world, but these theories guide valuable lessons to followers to achieve desired goal in any organization.

I. Trait Theory:

Trait theory is one of the earliest and well known theories among all other leadership theories. This theory is also well known as the “great man” approach of leadership (Georgy & leadership, 1990). Form our research we have found that such kind of theories simply distinguished leaders form the members of the group form the physical and personal traits they posses (Robert & Angelo, 2001). In such kind of theory it is thought that leaders are born with their extraordinary leadership traits or inherited it. This contradicts with today leadership theories that leaders need essentials educational and practical skills or that can be developed by many institutions so that they become the perfect leader in any organization. In order to assume that effectiveness of a leader trait theory can be used. Leaders who fall under trait theory are found to have some special personality and attitude in their works.

The main topic of trait theory is that leaders are born not made. Many traits can be identified in order to explain trait theories more vastly. Physiological (appearance, height, and weight), demographic (age, education and socioeconomic background), personality (self-confidence, and aggressiveness), intellective (intelligence, decisiveness, judgment, and knowledge), task-related (achievement drive, initiative, and persistence), and social characteristics (sociability and cooperativeness) with leader emergence and leader effectiveness are found in an effective leadership. However being a topic of scholars’ argued about the traits that exactly a leader has, many other research are also done.

Some scholars have tried to explain the trait theory form the big five personality framework (Robbins &Judge, 2011-2012). This framework has helps to submerge and to review all of the traits found by many research in some other specific frameworks and to understand those traits with a strong support of leadership characteristics. But such kind of findings of the theory is not that much suitable in our current world. It is required to provide more rigorous evidence of these traits to relate with the organizations which no research are able done specifically. Moreover, from the review it is more specific that, leaders’ having unique abilities definitely differentiates them from their followers. But the traits and characteristics are shown as the main topic in trait theory is not enough to explain a leader and his successful performance. Due to lack of information and knowledge such theories was an effective way to define a leader in early years but in recent times a leader’s efficiency and inefficiency cannot solely be described based on such theory and more detailed information is required.

II. Behavioral Theories:

After finding the lacking in the trait theory another theory was established by the scholars’ which was behavioral theory. In the behavioral theory it is mainly assumed that there exist certain behavior that can only a leader can posses no other follower or non leader have and here lays the main difference between trait theory and behavioral theory. According to our research trait theory is based on the fact that leaders have the personality of being a leader form the birth and they inherit such kind of unique characteristics and execute in the work place and these traits can never be generated in any other person. However behavioral theory is based on the discussion that leaders have some critical behaviors’ which should be determined and rise. Such kind of information can be used to teach others
and generate that leadership quality inside the followers. Thus the main topic of behavioral leadership is successful leadership is based in definable, learnable behavior. So, by providing proper training and guidance leaders can be formed.

Many researches are found based on behavioral theories that will guide a follower in the proper direction to be an extra ordinary leader. Some of these studies are – Ohio State studies, a research done by Ohio state university in 1940’s (Robbins & Judge, 2011- 2012). They identified two dimensions’ that narrowly defines the behavior of a leader. One is intrinsic structure which is the value of a leader possess as like in intrinsic value. They personally assign with the task and play an important role as a task supervisor of the employees, who also personally monitors the work of subordinates. On the other hand another point discussed in Ohio State theory is that ‘Consideration’ which simply says that leaders are emotionally attached with the employees. They not only personally motivate the followers to give the full effort toward work but also share their personal problems. The leader has a friendly nature is high in such kind of dimensions.

University of Michigan Studies, provided with a research on leadership in order to measure the performance effectiveness based on leader and follower’s relationship. They came up with two dimensions. One is employee oriented where leaders are and followers have an interpersonal relationship, they have a good communication between each other. Leaders pay good attention to the benefits of the followers and value individual differences. Thus employees are always in favor of such kind of leadership systems. The second dimension is the product oriented leadership which is just the opposite of employee oriented leadership. Here leaders mainly focus on the product oriented task and communicate with the employees just on that basis. Thus such kind of leadership exerts low employee satisfaction in the work place.

4. Recent Theories of Leadership

Recent theories mainly focus on the communication with the followers. In today’s world leaders need to have a good communication with his workers. As followers are individuals with their own merit and skills their vision and creativity must be dealt with important. Proper communication between leader and followers help the leader to provide correct direction in order to shape the ideas of the followers and increase organizational performance.
These theories are Charismatic leadership, Transactional leadership and Transformational leadership.

I. Charismatic Leadership, states that individuals have some extra ordinary characteristics which distinguishes them from other followers. Such kind or behavior employees have a vision and enthusiasm to achieve, they take risk to become successful and engage in more communication with the others. Such kind of unconventional behaviors’ are not generated by born. According to our research though learning such traits one can be a charismatic leader.

II. Transactional leadership, another name of transactional leadership is managerial leadership which is based on the hypothesis that manager and the followers have a commercial relationship. The best way to increase their efficiency in work is by providing reward or praise for good performance and punishment for the worse. Workers are bounded to execute the command given by the leader due to existence of chain of command. Leaders are just to give commands and the followers have to execute according to that that command whether they have the sufficient resources or not. Moreover, such kinds of leaders are mostly seen in our county and showing good results thus it is one of the value giving leaderships.

III. Transformational leaders, is another famous form of leadership. Such kind of hypothesis explains that leaders in an organization are the one who not only just influences his workers to achieve the goal of the task but also go beyond the result of the goal. Thus leaders always focus on the motivational factors to increase the creative and innovative mind of the followers. They communicate to a great extent to provide a clear knowledge of the goals and objectives of the task and to make it fully understandable for the subordinates along with giving them proper direction. Though transactional leadership is mainly seen in Bangladesh yet some transformational leaders are also making them shelf inspirational to the society. So, the research found that the recent forms of leaderships highly influence the followers in the work places.

5. Concept of Transformational Leadership
Transformational leadership was first mentioned in 1973, in the sociological study conducted by the author Downton, J. V., “Rebel Leadership: Commitment and Charisma in the revolutionary process”. After that, James McGregor used the term transformational leadership in his book “Leadership” (1978). In 1985, Barnard M. Bass presented a formal transformational leadership theory which, in addition to other things also includes the models and factors of behavior.

I. The Qualities of Transformational Leadership:
The optimal profile is characterized by the presence of certain qualities of transformational leadership. They are the leaders’ qualities contained in appropriate transformational abilities of leaders and in certain attributes which are assumptions for the use of leaders’ skills and for successful performance of leader jobs. Classification of transformational leaders is known as “Four I’s” (Hesselbein and Cohen, 1999, p. 263) includes the following skills: Idealized Influence represents the ability of building confidence in the followers and appreciating the by his leaders, which forms the basis for accepting radical change in organization. Without such confidence in the leader, that is, in his motives and aims, an attempt to redirect the organization may cause great resistance. Intellectual Stimulation this ability of transformational leaders has an important role in the transformation process of organization.

Transformational leaders stimulate the efforts of their followers as regards innovativeness and creativity, stimulate permanent reexamination of the existent assumptions, stimulate change in the way of thinking about problems, plead the use of analogy and metaphor, etc. Thus, it may appear the possibility to get new and creative ideas for solving problems from the followers. If the ideas and the solutions of problems suggested by followers differ from the ideas represented by leaders, the followers are not criticized, nor are the leaders’ ideas imposed at any cost. Inspirational Motivation is the ability of transformational leadership, which qualifies a leader as a figure, which inspires and motivates the followers to appropriate behavior. In the conditions when transformational change is being conducted in an organization, the leader has the task of clear and continuous stimulating others to follow a new idea.

Transformational leaders should, therefore, behave in such a way, which motivates and inspires followers. Such behavior includes implicitly showing enthusiasm and optimism of followers, stimulating team work, pointing out positive results, advantages, emphasizing aims, stimulating followers, etc. Individualized consideration as a feature of a transformational leader is reduced to the ability of individual analysis of followers. So, besides a global picture, a transformational leader must know what motivates any of his followers individually. Human wishes and needs are different. Some want certainty, some want excitement and change; some prefer money, and some free time. It’s upon the leader to “eaves drop”, observes, analyzes and predicts the needs and wishes of his followers. In this, it is important that followers don’t feel they are an object of observation. The leader, who are aware of the difference in needs and wishes of people; has an opportunity to use all those different demands in the right way.

II. Attributes of Transformational leadership:
Effective application of the list of skills of transformational leaders includes existence of certain attributes of transformational leadership. Applying these attributes in the process of organizational transformation, along with the skills, the transformational leaders are allowed to “embed” the awareness of necessity of the organizational transformation process, to successfully bring the process to an end, and, consequently, both the organization and the employees will profit from that action, with their followers. They are Innovation as an attribute of transformational leaders includes not only under taking innovative actions by transformational leaders, but, also, openness to creative enterprises of their followers. Team orientation of transformational leaders reflects their awareness of the importance of teamwork and readiness to lean on the help of others. In that sense it is important to rise functioning of the team to a level which insures complete equality, without being afraid that they will suffer “the revenge” because of their actions from their leaders.

Appreciation of others is the attribute of transformational leaders with which they demonstrate that they appreciate and evaluate the attitudes and opinions of their followers. These attributes of transformational leaders reflect the need for two-way communication during the process of organizational transformation. Teaching represents an important attribute of transformational leaders, which reflects their ability to influence people in the process of change to teach, direct and correct them. Without teaching, fulfillment of transformational aims rests upon occasional chances only, and not on the design established in advance. Responsibility reflects readiness of transformational leaders to take the risk upon them for the success of transformational change. When they face the change, managers can act in two ways. They can “keep themselves aside”, to watch and, eventually, criticized the change.

Passive managers which are indifferent as regards the change or oppose it vigorously, or think that the change is something that should concerns somebody else, have such an approach to the change. Such managers are called passive managers or “watchers”. They do not feel any responsibility for the course and for the results of transformational change. On the other side, managers who accept the chant, who actively take part in it and support it with every action of them, feel the responsibility for the success of the change. The attribute of responsibility is one more in the row of the qualities, which allows such managers to evolve into transformational leaders. Recognition as an attribute of transformational leadership, allows leaders to identify situations, in which followers should be praised, i.e. give them recognition. Giving recognition by simply saying thank you for a well done job, does not cost anything, and represents a strong stimulation for the followers to give further support in the efforts to perform the change.

6. Transformational Leadership from the Context of Bangladesh

Transformational leadership is one of the most important leadership that is allowing the world to look at Bangladesh form a different angle. Organizations in or country having transformational leaders not only become able to produce their desired outcomes but also are capable to influence the followers to show their extraordinary efforts globally. As a developing country like Bangladesh transformational leadership has become one the crucial concepts to research for those organizations who want to make revolutionary changes in our country.

Our country is also blessed with some transformational leaders who have those challenging attributes that have raised the organization to a new horizon to work and energized the followers to work and provide their effort beyond their call of duty and think differently. Their process of thinking is visionary, their main pursue to achieve ambitious goals, their power to influence people is like magnet, their communication system is inspiring and their implementation of work is articulated and designed. Some leaders of are born in our country who have such kind of charismatic personalities. Their traditional leadership role has played a crucial role in achieving innovation and competitiveness in organizations. Many theories on leadership are researched by renowned scholars’ but in this era those are not that much effective as transformational leadership plays in an organization.

In our research we have explained about transformational leaders and their organizations’ which have achieve global recognition around their world and their process of achieving it along with the leaders’ personality traits and behavior to achieve innovation and competitiveness. According to one of the transformational leadership trait that is to change the situation for the better of the organization some leaders are found in Bangladesh. Leadership in our country has become a social and collective work where some individuals conducting a revolutionary change to make community of people in the work place for seeking the desired goal. Some leaders lead as a mentor and some as an instruction. Yet their main objective is to provide the organization with an excellent performance or making a societal change. The research has defined some organizations in our country that follows transformational leadership in their management system so that the goal could be achieved beyond everyone’s expectations.

Transformational leadership practices in BRAC:

BRAC is a national private organization. Since 1972, soon after the liberation war, BRAC began working to reconstruct the national economy and social infrastructure. BRAC started its first program providing small-scale relief and rehabilitation programs. Eventually, it expanded its programs to include education, health, social development, human rights and legal services, giving emphasis to elimination of gender, religious and ethnic discrimination. Its target group is rural women. BRAC recognized that women are the primary caregivers who would ensure education for their children and the subsequent intergenerational sustainability of their families and households. During its inception, it was an entirely donor-funded agency; nonetheless it has emerged as an independent, virtually self-financed organization for sustainable human development.

Currently, BRAC reaches 69,000 villages in all 64 districts; it assists an estimated 110 million Bangladeshi people and since has been called to assist a number of foreign countries including Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Also, it employs almost 100,000 people all over the country. According to our research BRAC is one of the organizations where transformational leadership is practiced. The leader of this organization has a vast contribution in providing creativity and innovation in their organization. Thus our research mainly focuses on the role this organization plays in transformational leadership. The leader of BRAC who is playing the role of transformational leader is on the chairman position in the organization. His vast contribution is providing creativity and innovation in their organization.

From the beginning in order to achieve its objective the organization has focused to ensure sustainable, social and economic development, BRAC implements a comprehensive program. Targeting poor rural women, BRAC’s strategy is group participation. Using a participatory, peer-supported and multispectral strategy, it offers training to boost women’s skills and the opportunity to achieve sustainable improvement, elevating their dignity and self-reliance. Some of BRAC’s programs include micro-finance, income generation and economic development, education and international outreach.

During the research claims that such organization has proved to be a transformation leadership following organization. The leader of this organization plays a role of transformational leader to motivate and encourage their employees. The participative nature of the employees is helping the organization to reach their goal to a great extent. The passion and characteristics of the leader of this organization to manage and the current activities of the organization to achieve its goal leads our research to claim such organization that is one of those organizations that follows transformational leadership to achieve their goal which is the fight to remove poverty.

To be a good leader, Mr Abed emphasizes the need to devote oneself entirely to one’s work and freeing oneself from preoccupations related to accumulation of personal wealth. A leader must regard his work as a lifestyle, rather than a nine-to-five job. He also stresses the need for effective partnerships to make a difference and change societies. In all of BRAC’s work, the poor are regarded as partners in a common struggle, rather than the objects of program interventions. Mr. Abed remains steadfast in his work through even the most distressing calamities. He inculcates values of leadership, partnership and ethical practices to his colleagues and co-workers. BRAC as a social enterprise has performed various times to create economic space for the poor.

Currently BRAC has been operating in 18 enterprises ranging from retail to alternative energy, from live stock to printers and printing pack, from agriculture to health, making significant contribution to local economy development through creation of market linkages, employment opportunities and entrepreneurship. In order to develop innovation and creativity in this generation he established at the Center for Governance Studies at BRAC University with a view to strengthen the public sector, which offers a master’s program in Governance and Development for midlevel civil servants. He had a strong vision for commercial venture which led him to establish the BRAC Bank that is currently functioning as a fully fledged commercial bank. It promotes access for all individuals to economic opportunities and business focusing specially on small & medium enterprises.

The other commercial ventures include Aarong, a retail outlet and BRAC Dairy and Food Project. These commercial wings of BRAC juxtapose consumers and poor rural producers. BRAC has initiated a multidimensional program to relieve poverty. Poverty in Bangladesh is the result of many factors such as unemployment, low income, population growth, and illiteracy. So, poverty alleviation is quite a challenge as it requires national leaders to deal with all these factors. Micro-finance is an important component which BRAC supports to fight poverty. By providing credit to poor women, BRAC hopes to empower them and create self-sufficiency. Also, credit provisions promote national economic development by increasing the income level of the rural poor. Income generation programs include, but are not limited to, several major sectors: fisheries, social forestry, and poultry and livestock.

The fisheries program is one of the most promising income-generating activities for rural women, who make up more than 90 percent of the total participation. And the social forestry program increases awareness about maintaining a sustainable supply of high-quality seedlings and reducing the adverse environmental effects of deforestation, while creating income and employment opportunities. Currently, the poultry and livestock program is the most popular program, where about 70 percent of landless rural women are involved in poultry rearing, feed mills, bull stations, and feed analysis and disease diagnosis laboratories. Some other economic development programs recently initiated include retrenched garment workers, micro-finance for acid victims, and the employment and livelihood program for adolescents.

Due to the introduction of quota systems and recent changes in the international trade laws, many of the garment industries operate at reduced activity. This has resulted in layoffs for the female garment workers. To facilitate their rehabilitation into alternative income-generating activities, BRAC has started absorbing a number of these retrenched garment workers into its micro-finance program. Also, acid violence, where acid is used as a tool for punishment, still occurs fairly frequently in Bangladesh. BRAC helps to rehabilitate acid victims through credit and savings facilities. Also, the program supporting the employment and livelihood of adolescents primarily focuses on the financial empowerment of adolescent girls.

BRAC provides loans to the adolescent girls to invest 40 primarily in poultry, livestock, nursery, fisheries, and other small businesses. BRAC also recognizes that education is important to enlighten the rural people. BRAC educates the children through informal, primary education, enabling them to develop literacy, numeric and life skills. In 2003, BRAC operated over 34,000 schools and currently, it takes part in higher education through BRAC University, offering quality education. Also, BRAC has expanded internationally. For example, BRAC has registered as a foreign NGO in Afghanistan, reconstructing infrastructure and supporting the people after decade-long conflict and war. It also works in Sri Lanka to reconstruct infrastructure after destruction by the devastating tsunami. After its successful introduction in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, BRAC launched its development programs in eastern Africa. It has also started programs in Tanzania and Uganda and has been registered in Southern Sudan.

With its unique and integrated development approach, BRAC introduces programs for poverty reduction in these countries by incorporating health, water and sanitation components along with micro-finance schemes. Moreover, its program has been replicated in over a dozen countries in the world. BRAC has also been awarded ICAB Award for best presented published accounts and reports (2004), SAFA best presented account award (2005),CGPA Financial Transparency award(2006), Swadhinata Puroshkar (2007) which is the highest state award in Bangladesh , Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize (2009) the world’s largest humanitarian prize, as well as the Social Performance Reporting Award, Silver Category(2010).

Undoubtedly, under Abed’s leadership, BRAC has fought poverty, working towards social and economic development in Bangladesh. This organization is considered a model for following transformational leadership and social enterprise. Through BRAC, he has been fighting the difficult battle against all that afflict the rural poor people. Abed, a transformational leader, of this organization has demonstrated that community partnerships and institution building go a long way in sustainable development, spreading and transferring knowledge to future.

7. Conclusion

In conclusion, relationship between leader and followers has a high influence in any organizational performance. Those who are transformational leaders always be careful to his decision making and its effects in his subordinates as they are the people who are finally going to execute the designed structure of the leaders. If they are wrongly motivated this might cause a great loss in the progress of the organizational.

Due to all these our research has found that leaders of Bangladesh should direct their leadership policies towards transformational leadership as the employee and leader has a friendly and emotional attachment with their work in such work environment and thus the task of the leader to influence and to achieve the objective of the organization along with to reach to some result that is beyond other expectations which is highly profitable for the organization. The leaders we have explained has proved with their leadership qualities and our nation can do more well if more organizations follow such kind of leadership in their pattern to management. Thus transformational leadership is making a revolutionary change in inspiring and motivating workforce to provide the organization with creative and innovative ideas and increase the efficiency of their organizational performance.

8. References:
Robert Kreithner & Angelo Kinicki, 1995, Annotated Instructor’s edition Organizational behavior, 3rd edition, pg.425

Angelo Kinicki & Robert Kreithner, 2003, Organization Behavior, key concepts, skills & best Practices, pg.278

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DR.Michael R.Mitchell,(2010),Leading, Teaching And Making Decision, Pg80.

Angelo Kinicki & Robert Kreithner, 2003, Organization Behavior, key concepts, skills & best Practices, pg.278

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Lawrie J.Mullins,2008, Management And Organizational Behavior, 7th edition, pg,280

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Debra L. Nelson and James Campbell Quick, 2002; Foundation, Realities & Challenges, 4th edition, pg.391

Gregory B. Northcraft and Margaret A. Neale, 1990, Organizational Behavior: A Management Challenge, pg.400

S.V. Hussain(2003), Small Scale Industries in the New Millennium.

Kendra Cherry, Leadership Theories – 8 Major Leadership Theories, (About.com Guide) Trait theory of leadership. Leaders are born not made…Available: http://www.strategies-for-managing-change.com/trait-theory-of-leadership.html

Trait theory of Leadership, Available: http://www.managementstudyguide.com/trait-theory-of-leadership.htm

Behavioral Theories of Leadership, Available: http://www.leadership-central.com/behavioral-theories.html#axzz1eTmCpgI4

Transactional leadership, Available: http://www.money-zine.com/Career-Development/Leadership-Skill/Transactional-Leadership/

Gray Yukl, 2006, Leadership in Organization, 6th edition, pg.280-281

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ICOMP e-Newsletter on Management of Population Programmes March 2008 * Page 3 / 4, Available: www.icomp.org.my/pub/feedback_leadership_management.pdf

John Hall, Shannon Johnson, Allen Wysocki and Kari Kepner, 2009, Transformational Leadership: The Transformation of Managers and Associates. Available: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hr020

Hesselbein, Frances, and Paul M. Cohen. (1999). Leader to Leader. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Brac official web site, Available: http://www.brac.net/

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“People Have the Power”: Sir Fazle Abed Wins $500,000 WISE Prize for Education http://bigthink.com/ideas/40924

9. Appendix:
The reference provided on the books is available in nsu library. There are some ebook collected from google e book section.

Fazle Hasan Abed
A Social Entrepreneur and also a transformational leader Fazle Hasan Abed was born in 1936 at Sylhet in Bangladesh. He was educated at Dhaka and Glasgow Universities. In his thirties, he had a senior corporate executive position at a multinational company, but during the liberation war in Bangladesh, he became discouraged. Driven by patriotism, he left his job, went to London and began working on behalf of the independence of war-affected Bangladesh. He immediately began a campaign to build world sentiment and raise awareness against the genocide in Bangladesh. Soon thereafter, he founded BRAC for the rehabilitation of the returning refugees in a remote area of Bangladesh. After three decades, he led BRAC to become the largest NGO in the world, in terms of its scale and diversity of interaction.

Abed was professionally associated with many positions which include being chairman of the Finance and Audit Committee of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines; Visiting Scholar, Harvard Institute of International Development and Member, International Commission on Health Research for Development,Harvard University, USA; Chairman, Association of Development Agencies inBangladesh (ADAB); Member, World Bank NGO Committee, Switzerland. He also currently holds many positions including Commissioner, UN Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor (CLEP); Global Chairperson, International Network of Alternative Financial Institutions (INAFI) International; Member, Policy Advisory Group, The Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP), The World Bank, Washington DC. Abed has also received several honorary degrees including Doctor of Humane Letters from Yale University in 2007, Doctor of Laws from Columbia University in 2008, Doctor of Letters from the University of Oxford in 2009 and Doctorate of Laws from the University of Bath in 2010.

In February 2010, Abed was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (KMCG) by the British crown in recognition of his services to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally. On the First of November 2011, Abed was awarded WISE Prize, the world’s first major international prize for education by Qatar Foundation. Abed has received numerous national and international awards for his achievements in leading BRAC, including the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award (2008), the Inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award (2007), the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership (2007), the Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) Award for Lifetime Achievement in Social Development and Poverty Alleviation (2007), Gates Award for Global Health (2004), UNDP Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution in Human Development (2004), Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Award (2002), Olof Palme Award (2001), UNICEF’s Maurice Pate Award (1992) and the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (1980).

Abed is recognized by Ashoka as one of the “global greats” and is a founding member of its prestigious Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship. In 2010 Abed was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to the Eminent Persons Group for the Least Developed Countries.

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