What Can Leaders Learn From Aristotle?


On the surface, philosophy and leadership come from different worlds. Rarely taught in schools, philosophy is sometimes perceived to be the domain of those who purely introspect in the abstract world – think of Immanuel Kant, one of history’s greatest philosophers who never left his home village of Koenigsberg. On the other hand, leadership is something that cannot exist solely in theory; it needs to be applied and practised.

In this talk, we learn how philosophy and leadership are mutually inclusive and perhaps even, symbiotic. Philosophy gives business leaders the foundation in critical reasoning, questioning and rethinking their assumptions and limitations in an era of rapid changes and complexity. The concept of business as usual and decision-making process traditionally espoused in traditional management education has become outdated. Instead, a new normal calls for creative and abstract thinking. To truly grow as a leader, one cannot lead without understanding philosophy at the micro (self) and macro (society) levels.


Nicholas Khaw is a development economist at Khazanah Nasional, Malaysia’s sovereign development fund, where he leads the economic development research track. His work at Khazanah covers a wide range of development issues including, but not limited to, industrial policy, cluster development, economic complexity, demographics and political economics. In addition, he also heads the knowledge management team at Khazanah, covering knowledge systems, events, and publications as well as the Khazanah Resource Centre.

Prior to Khazanah, Khaw served as an economist in Malaysia’s Economic Planning Unit, where he was directly involved in several national development projects such as the 10th Malaysia Plan, the Economic Transformation Programme, and the Strategic Reform Initiatives. His research interests and intellectual passions are in the field of development economics particularly related to the long-term persistence of historical events and cultural factors on economic and public policy outcomes today.

Khaw holds a Master in Public Administration in International Development from the Harvard Kennedy School and completed his undergraduate studies in economics at Harvard College. He writes a monthly column for The Edge Malaysia. All his writings can be found at www.nicholaskhaw.com

Thu Jul 27, 2017
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM MYT
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