Leaders are never born, they become!

Illness teaches you a lot about yourself. And it teaches you a hell of a lot about others: Khalid Raza

You all must be wondering why I have not written for so long. Well, those of you who are connected on social networks know that I have been extremely unwell. It all started, in the last week of my CSC assignment, with a very unnerving but harmless fever, which was taken care of by half a tablet of paracetamol. Within a day, I was touching 39.5 degree Celsius (103.1 degree Fahrenheit), with severe pain and burning eyes, body pain, and shivering. We visited the clinic, which in itself is a big story (maybe I will share it some other time), and I was put on drips (first time in my life) and all blood tests were done. Everything turned out to be normal and we came back to the hotel, but I was far from normal.

Dani, one of my CSC assignment members and now a very good friend, took care of me almost all the time. Sometimes it meant that she had to sleep less to get work done, but her care and support made me feel better. This is where she became a leader.

It was difficult for me to stand up for five minutes, I could not keep my eyes open and my body was burning. In the middle of all this, our assignment’s final presentation and report were due. The work had to be done and the team made a checklist. To my dismay, surprise and shock, the work was divided equally. I had two choices – either to make my team take into consideration my obvious and horrendous condition and seek empathy or pick up the gauntlet and deliver. I chose the latter. I was writhing in pain, crying for some relief, working the laptop, even though the screen made my eyes burn. This was the moment; someone from the team had to be a leader. Leadership #SocialGlamor Khalid Raza

Finally the last day came and I stayed away from the press, videos and talking, as my body was giving up on me by then. By this time, I had been to two different hospitals, four visits, thrice on drips but all the reports were still fine. While my team was enjoying the last evening by the pool, I was waiting to die as the temperature touched 40.2 degree Celsius (104.4 degree Fahrenheit). We all were to fly next day and I wanted to go home to people who love me.

One of our clients, Maria’s husband, who is a doctor himself, after knowing my condition, asked me to get hospitalized immediately. We met a specialist who finally diagnosed it to be a severe infection of Pneumonia in my left lung. He said, if I would have flown, it would have been my last flight as my lungs would have collapsed. I am in hospital since the last five days and I am recovering. I still cannot breathe normally and get breathless when I walk some distance. While I was hospitalized, I was constantly visited by Alex, who bought a lot of stuff for me to eat, Wendy, who graciously shared her Netflix account with me, Dani, who has done more than one can for me already and Tushar, who understands that the presence of a friend in difficult times is all we need to gain strength. They are all leaders as they are ready to sacrifice for people they care for. Others may have fancy roles with shallow characters and they hang the values card on their chest, but are driven by only one motive – self. And that my friends, is a sure sign that they are never leaders.

IMG-20141015-WA0007Olivia, who is our local contact from Pyxxera Global, along with her husband Julian have been God sent angels. They have been extremely caring and patient with me. They visit me twice a day, not to put a tick mark on a report, but to spend time with me. They are a lovely couple but more importantly, amazing human beings.

I must also mention how amazing IBM has been. I have received complete co-operation and support from my company and leaders who are actively engaged in knowing how I am recovering. I am honored, proud and privileged to be an IBMer.

I am writing this blog to you from Clinica Del Caribe, from the bed where I have now spent five days. Within a week I will be off to my country, but everything I learnt during my illness will stay with me. In one of her blogs, my wonderful friend and guide Maureen Monte shared a story of how a sleepy employee did not get her recommendation for his behaviors in one of the projects. She suggested that we all are being seen by others. If we wish to become leaders, we need to behave like one.

Those of us who did are on their path to become and those of us who did not, will never become. Remember: Leaders are never born, but become one.


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21 thoughts on “Leaders are never born, they become!

  1. CSCAlice October 16, 2014 at 1:12 am Reply

    Hope you are feeling a little better and stronger each day. I had an allergic reaction to some herbal tea while I was in China and passed out (twice) on the sidewalk, giving my CSC team quite a fright. Thankfully, I did not have to go to the hospital, but I felt pretty sick for 24 hours. I was so grateful to my team (especially Paivi !!!) for getting me safely back to the hotel and staying with me for most of the day until she was sure I was not going to keel over. Take good care, you definitely don’t want to be flying home with a temperature right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Khalid Raza October 16, 2014 at 7:42 pm Reply

      whoa! Passing out on street can be fatal. I am glad you had someone to be with you. This is where Paivi showed her side of leadership and got you and others to respect and admire her more.


  2. Lutz Marten October 16, 2014 at 1:29 am Reply

    Khalid, please, be better soon, we miss you! And take all the time you need to become well! Take care of yourself! -Lutz


    • Khalid Raza October 16, 2014 at 7:43 pm Reply

      Thanks Lutz, I am trying to be better asap. Missing #SocialHRSuccess


  3. maureenmonte October 16, 2014 at 1:43 am Reply

    Khalid, I am mortified by your story both that you had to deliver in the work, and that you were so ill. Thank GOD you did not fly, and that a client – not an IBMer – insisted you see the specialist. You see that you had already proven your authentic leadership with your client? They knew you must be sick because you had shown them what you could do until you could no longer do it. I am so proud of you, proud of how you’ve handled this challenge, and send only positive thoughts and energy to you. We talked about it in our phone call, didn’t we? How you have been perceived as the leader even if you are not formally named so. You did it again, in the worst of times. I bow humbly – you have become an amazing leader with more depth and value than most will achieve in a lifetime. Look forward to hearing your voice again very soon. You are a dear, treasured friend. All the best, do be careful – Maureen

    Liked by 1 person

    • Khalid Raza October 16, 2014 at 7:52 pm Reply

      Thank you for the kind words here and sound advice when we spoke in the middle of my assignment. Your words always guide me to a better place. I know this blog may make some people uncomfortable but I needed to share it with all of you.

      As they say,

      “Is life measured in trophies..
      In frequent flier miles, miles per hour..
      In con calls..
      Time-line crunches, in business brunches..
      Is life measured in Oxford shoes & prince drapes in corner offices..
      Or life is also measured in lives we touch..”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sehra K E October 16, 2014 at 3:09 am Reply

    Khalid, I wish you a full recovery and safe travels home. Leaders aren’t born; they arise from the most challenging or distressing of situations like you have done.


    • Khalid Raza October 18, 2014 at 7:18 pm Reply

      Thank you Sehra – you always inspire me, although we have never met!


  5. Savi Abraham October 16, 2014 at 8:33 am Reply

    @CSC Team12 South Africa – Khalid this is a terrible Buddy. Life is more important than anything else. Please stay back till you are back to good shape and then fly out. Coming to Leaders – first they are born since they are the ones who take the first step ahead of others. As they go on in life they become better and bigger Leader. To me its more so if one is a born leader becomes a great Leader over a period of time. During the time when Mahatma Gandhi was around do you think there weren’t any Leader material guyz at all – no the opportunity wax open to ALL but it was Gandhi who took those bold first steps and proved to the world he was a great Leader. Take care Buddy get well soon. Is there a # where I can call you. Regards, Savi

    Sent from my iPhone



    • Khalid Raza October 18, 2014 at 7:20 pm Reply

      I am getting better Savi as days go by and I am dying to go back. All the great leaders I have seen are normal people with extraordinary mind and heart. And they were born like you and me. A leader is not who he is but what he does. And that’s why I feel leaders are not born but become.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kanisha October 16, 2014 at 9:58 am Reply

    Khalid, such experiences make you richer as a human being, of course unfortunately it is at the cost of your health but you seem to have gained even from this.
    The people who showed concern, compassion, care have indeed crossed a significant milestone – that of thinking about another. This will make them a better human…and as u rightly put it, a better leader.
    Those who didn’t..this milestone is delayed. The CSC opportunity is meant for people who are on the verge of crossing the milestone, ppl who have decided to think about another – rather others besides themselves. I hope some of them realize the significance of this project in their life


    • Khalid Raza October 18, 2014 at 7:22 pm Reply

      Indeed Kanisha – we all reach the tipping point (most of us) and some of us cross the line before others. And those become leaders. Now when I look back, it is so easy to identify leaders from the mass. Do you believe those who missed the milestone ever cared for it?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. anu October 17, 2014 at 11:46 am Reply

    Loved what you said, Khalid. Recover soon… Wishes your way.


  8. Anna Dreyzin October 19, 2014 at 12:19 am Reply

    Wishing you a speedy recovery Khalid! Thanks for sharing your experiences, so glad to hear you are getting better! Look forward to connecting online once you are back home. Sending best wishes your way!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Barry Graham October 20, 2014 at 9:43 am Reply

    Khalid, greetings from Lenovo! I am sorry to hear about this, I wish you a speedy recovery.


  10. Lisa Londino Macyda October 29, 2014 at 6:59 am Reply

    Khalid, what an experience my goodness. I hope you are recovered and have to say; I don’t know that I would have had your strength to come through and deliver!


  11. […] that we will stay in syzygy, which will always keep us in the dark. We hold the key. We know that leaders are never born, they become. And, therefore with each passing moment, we can become a better […]


  12. If it Clicks, it’s Social! | #SocialGlamor November 24, 2014 at 11:18 am Reply

    […] leaders have always been about equality and inspiration. They knew that real value comes from merit and teamwork. The corporate creations of corner […]


  13. […] you stop honking. If you do not like getting rude emails, you must stop writing them. We know that leaders are never born, they become. But before becoming a leader, we must become better human beings and […]


  14. pradeep May 22, 2015 at 11:43 am Reply

    you are right khalid…nice saying ” But before becoming a leader, we must become better human beings and […]”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. […] Leaders are never born, they become! […]


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