Muhammad Yunus is a great leader. He has created an organization which challenged the status quo that sentenced millions of Bangladeshi people to famine and helped them to manage themselves out of poverty. He has inspired thousands of people to follow his model of microcredit to decrease poverty in many developing nations. He has engaged a multinational corporation to invest in social business and sacrifice part of its profit to increase the well being of poor children.
After reading Muhammad Yunus’ book – Creating the World Without Poverty – I believe that there are three traits that have made him such a fantastic leader. His leadership comes from vision, passion, and trust.
- Vision. Many people care about poverty, but few have ideas to actually eliminate it. And Muhammad Yunus is one of the most notable innovators in this area. He has started the microcredit movement as the famous banker to the poor. He has come up with the notion of social business and proved the concept in numerous enterprises, including telecom company serving remote villages in the rural Bangladesh and modern eyecare hospitals. Last but not least, he still continues to produce ideas for fighting the world’s poverty, in areas ranging from information technology to social and political movements.
- Passion. It is a necessary quality to continue following your vision in the early stages, when there is still no evidence that would convince the critical mass of people that it’s the right way to go. When all banks had turned down his proposals to offer microcredits to the poor, Muhammad Yunus withdrew his own savings to realize the idea. He passed on his passion first to a small group of students, then local officials, then social entrepreneurs around the world, and finally even to the management of a multinational corporation.
- Trust. There were hundreds of visionary and passionate people opposing poverty before him, but banker to the poor was the first one who actually placed trust in the poor. He challenged the assumption of poor people not being creditworthy, and offered credit to them that was warranted by a simple handshake. He believed the poor are just as creative, hardworking and talented as the rich, and by giving them means to do it, they will be able to manage themselves out of poverty. Moreover, he transferred the ownership of the business he works for – Grameen Bank – to the poor borrowers, trusting them so much as to become their employee. Trust is the brightest quality making Muhammad Yunus an exceptional leader – it has triggered millions of poor people to assume personal leadership for their own success.
Muhammad – if you ever read this article, congratulations on your great success eliminating poverty and thank you for the inspiration!
Photo credit: Yodel Anecdotal