If weapons become more advanced but leadership doesn’t, it's a threat: Jack Ma

Alibaba Co-founder Jack Ma shared this and more at the McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character (MCLC) as he answered a key question: ‘what is leadership’.

Alibaba Co-founder Jack Ma believes that while technology has improved at a rapid pace, there’s still room for development when it comes to leadership. For when there is powerful technology available, it’s imperative that the leaders are evolved and advanced as well.

“You can imagine if weapons become more advanced but leadership doesn’t, it’s a threat to you and the whole world,” he said, addressing the audience at the recently held McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character (MCLC), hosted by the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Jack Ma shared this and more insights at the conference, which aims to bring together a diverse group of student leaders from across the globe to bolster leadership skills, foster critical thinking and collaboration, and develop potential strategies for addressing pressing global issues.

Delivering the dinner keynote at the 7th annual conference, Jack Ma spoke around the theme of ‘leading with character in a technology-driven world’. A prominent face of the Chinese ecommerce boom, he spoke on ‘what is leadership’, and talked about the qualities that drive modern leaders.

In his opinion, it is critical that a leader can both compete and cooperate.

“For most people, they see and believe. We believe, and then we see. For leadership, we have to see things that other people don’t see.”

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One of the biggest takeaways from his keynote address was the idea of world leaders. These are people who do things that other people haven’t thought about, and things that are necessary for society, consumers and people, he said. The stand-out qualities of these leaders, he added, are ‘smart’ and ‘wise’.

Smart people can live happy, but wise people can live longer because they know what to give up. Leaders need to have courage and be brave. By being brave, it’s not because of muscles, but because of love.”

While on the theme of a technology-driven world and leadership, Jack Ma also highlighted the need for leaders to create value and take responsibility; and for global tech companies to do their bit through job creation.

“As leaders, you need to think more than other people,” he pointed out.

Also read: "Successful Story of Jack Ma: How he built Small business into Big Empire"