Matter & Substance
  October 24, 2016

King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand – A Servant Leader

When I arrived for my recent trip to Bangkok, I found the nation in mourning over the death of King Bhumibol. He had reigned for over 70 years and was the longest reigning monarch in the world.

Although he had been ill recently, the nation was gripped by grief over the death of the King. He became King at 18 years old upon the assassination of his brother, and led the transformation of Thailand from an agrarian society to an industrial middle class giant. Throughout his reign, he was a stabilizing influence as there were multiple changes in government and policies. He was the rock upon which modern Thailand was built.

What has struck me the most is that he was truly a servant leader. He focused much of his energy on helping the poor. The royal family is immensely wealthy; however, in an effort to ensure the hungry were always fed, he personally financed over 4,400 public works projects to improve the life of his people.

I was touched by the level of grief by the people of Thailand. Virtually every person was wearing black or had a black ribbon on in memorial. They had lost the father of their nation. His reign was an example of what a true leader can achieve. It was not about him, but the people he served, and leaders today in business and in government can learn much from studying his life and his way of leadership

Photo courtesy of GoThai.Asia