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The Right Kind Of Leadership For Indonesia

There are two major traditions in human civilisation: the Western tradition that covers Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome and the heirs of the Western world, namely modern European and North American civilisations, and the Eastern tradition dominated by Ancient China and Ancient India.

From these two major traditions, we can learn the characteristics of a strong country. The state can be strong if those entrusted to control and lead it has a good and strong personality.

What is meant by a strong personality in Western and Eastern traditions is reflected in popular teachings found in Indonesia. Indonesia is, in essence, a product of both great civilisations.

For thousands of years, the civilisation in Nusantara was mostly influenced by the Hindu-Buddhist civilisation from India and Chinese civilisation.

In the middle of the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, Western civilisations came: the Spanish, the Portuguese, the British, the Dutch, and the French. The leaders of Nusantara, especially those who led the struggle for independence, were products of the West and from the East.

Western military leadership is widely influenced by the Ancient Greeks, as portrayed in philosophical, mythical, and historical accounts of Plato, Herodotus, and Thucydides.

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There is this story of a prince, a military general, and his friend on an evening before their battle the next day. They were in the mountains, and it was freezing. The prince was in a tent with thick blankets and a warm fireplace.

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His friend asked his Commander-in-Chief, the prince, ‘Do you know that our men are outside without tents? Without a thick blanket? Bracing the cold, and also possibly starving?’.

‘But why are they still obedient and faithful to you, who are now comfortable in the tent with thick blankets? Do you know why? Because they know that tomorrow, the orders that come out of your mouth will determine their fate. That’s why they are letting you be in a warm place. They want you to be fresh, healthy, and strong tomorrow so that your orders don’t harm their lives.”

This story portrays the Western leadership tradition. The officers and military leaders of the West were given more comfort and received better treatment because everyone knew that the product of their leadership was their precise order. Their order must be able to lead to victory without the sacrifice of too many men.

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The spirit of the Eastern military leadership is somewhat different. We can portray this Eastern leadership tradition from the leadership of a famous general from Ancient Chinese historical stories such as General Wu Chi (Wu Qi).

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Wu Chi was well-known because he was always among his men. If his men walked, he walked with them. He did not want to ride a horse or a carriage. His clothes were the same as his men’s. He ate the same foods as his men. If his men did not sleep in a tent, he did not want to use the tent. He would sleep outside with his men.

That was Wu Chi-style leadership. Hence his men adored him so much. In those battles, he did not need to rebuke, did not have to lead by force. His men loved him so much that they won every battle. This is the Eastern leadership style.

In Indonesia, we also have leaders like Wu Chi. Among the most wellknown leaders of the red beret corps was General Mung Parahadi Mulyo. He was known as the commander who had no maid at home.

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He cleaned his floor before leaving for the office. His wife and family were forbidden from using his official car. He brought his drink everywhere. His clothes were also those from the TNI, although he might be able to wear nice clothes.

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He was known as a man who never wanted to live beyond what the state gave him. He was also known to have a very strong physique. Before ordering his men to do something, he did it first. Before his men went down the cliff, he did it first. If he ran along with his men, he always carried a gun just like his men.

Pak Mung was famous. He was the RPKAD commander who ran with his men from Cijantung to Cililitan Terminal.

In my opinion, the leadership suitable for Indonesia is a combination of Greek leadership and that of Wu Chi. With this combination, we can take the best of the West and the East to create a leadership style suitable for Indonesia.

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