During a recent foray online, I attempted to find the definition of a “young leader”, a topical subject of discussion in modern China. Among the many pages devoted to this, the following list of qualities stood out: young leaders are those who forge ahead with determination, using their thoughts and actions to positively influence society; they have made significant achievements in their industry, and take the lead in constantly progressing, staying ahead of their time and establishing new rules and keywords of the future.
Online polls of “Young Leaders in China”, voted for by certain authorities as well as netizens, picked out a few unknown Chinese students worthy of praise, but of course, most recognised young leaders in China are celebrities – whether they want to be or not. Their position in the limelight makes them ideal to be positioned as leaders. Take for example the famous actress Zhou Xun, who was appointed to be a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme. Since then, she has become involved in public welfare and the sustainable development of the environment, and along with some other young Chinese people, was elected one of the Davos Young Global Leaders at the World Economic Forum. Although from different walks of life, they all have one thing in common: they actively fulfil their social responsibility and try to help people.
Although it is not difficult to find young people with exceptional achievements in the meetings and event industry in China, it is not easy to find someone with a strong commitment to serving the wider community and using his or her talents to solve some of its most challenging problems. Personally, I believe that if you want to be a leader, you have to live by the following values.
Dream the dream
With no dream, there is no dynamic, no goal. In my early years in the industry, I dreamed of building a company with international professional standards. I spent many years overcoming a host of difficulties. Now my dream has come true.
Honesty is the best policy
This is very important in China. Western countries have sound legal systems, but in China we have to fight against corruption in bureaucracy and business. In the struggle, we might be hurt or lose out to unfair practices, but if we persist, eventually we will see a purer environment for more impartial competition.
Show an indomitable spirit
Boring chores and endless paperwork are inevitable when you start off in the meetings and incentives travel industry, but they must be endured. I have seen talented young people almost reach the next level but give up just before the brighter horizon comes into view. You cannot become an industry leader if you do not have the willpower and tenacity to bring you through the low periods.
You have to act in a professional way if you want to become a leader in the industry. A high level of skill and knowledge across your field is vital if you are to lead a group of events specialists.
Show dedication to social responsibilities
This is a quality every leader has to have. A lot of young people can carry out their own specific duties well, but without a commitment to social responsibility, you will always fall short as a genuine leader. Social responsibility is not simply related to charitable events – it is about moral certitude, insisting on sticking to just principles, and being willing to devote yourself or sacrifice your time for others.
The business events industry can be very interesting and enjoyable, with lots of opportunities to travel, experience new cultures and meet new friends. However, there is no “sweet” without “sweat”, and generally you have to experience plenty of hard work before you reap the rewards. China’s meetings and events industry is quite different to those of western countries and even other Asian countries. We are facing some challenging problems and good solutions are hard to find. It will be up to the younger generation to create a brand new future. As Mao Zedong said: “The world is yours, as well as ours, but in the last analysis, it is yours. You, young people, full of vigour and vitality, are in the bloom of life… Our hope is placed on you.”
Ms Liu Ping is chief executive of China Star Professional Program, a destination management company with offices in Beijing and Shanghai