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The Case For Empowerment To Achieving Greatness

By LOUISA DEVADASON People under the influence of an empowering person are like paper in the hands of a talented artist. No matter what they’re made of, they can become treasures.—John C. Maxwell   John Maxwell said this to sum up a story from his book, Leadership 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know, about an English artist named William Wolcott who, in 1920s New York, was documenting his impressions of the city. One day, he was overcome with the urge to sketch and picked up a piece of regular wrapping paper. His friend pointed this out but he said in response, “Nothing is ordinary if you know how to use it.” Wolcott created two sketches on this canvas and later that year, one of them sold for USD500 and the other for USD1,000. That was a lot of money for the early 1900s. This is, in...

What 20 Graduates Taught Me About Young People

By Aaron Tang   Three weeks ago, I ran my first five-day, four-night camp for 20 young graduates. We had a series of training modules to help them learn things. Plus a bunch of smart people who came by to teach. Then, we had me. I tried to teach them what I knew about work and careers. The best thing about being a “teacher” is that you learn a lot more than being a student. By trying to give, you actually receive. This is what I learnt from them. 1. Young people worry about meaning One of the first things we tried to impart was that young people need to be flexible. Just because someone is a finance graduate, he shouldn’t expect to work in finance; or a bank. I know. My degree is in electrical engineering, and here I am trying to be a teacher and a writer at the same time. However, I ...

Would You Follow A Leader Like Duterte, The Donald Trump Of The East?

By KENNETH RAJ SAMUEL and LAY HSUAN, LIM   The world seems to be craving for populist leaders in recent times. To put this in an Asian perspective, look no further than the Philippines where populism has been well epitomised by the newly elected President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Dubbed as “The Punisher”, Duterte is the pugnacious, foul-mouthed mayor of Davao which is located on the island of Mindanao. He is well known for radically transforming Davao into one of the safest cities in the Philippines (ranked fifth safest city in the world according to survey site Numbeo.com). However, Duterte has been sharply denounced for ordering extrajudicial killings to reach that amazing milestone. What makes this eccentric individual so appealing to his supporters? Would you follo...

Understanding Why Great Leaders Go To Great Lengths To Teach Others

By ROSHAN THIRAN   In the late 1990s, while I was still working in General Electric (GE), Jack Welch, the chief executive officer (CEO) of GE, walked into one of our classrooms at its Crotonville facility and started teaching. When Jeffrey Robert “Jeff” Immelt replaced him, he continued Welch’s teaching legacy. I remember attending a class at the same facility back in 2003 when Immelt walked into our class and started teaching his “teachable point of view.” Both leaders had differing points on how the organisation should be run and managed but they both spent time teaching their truths to their employees and customers. Not too far away from GE’s learning facility in upstate New York, is the PepsiCo main office. Former chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, Roger Enrico, instituted a programme c...

The Science of Persuasion in Leadership

By NG YIN LU Persuasion, the attempt to change one’s attitude via the use of different kinds of messages, occurs at all levels of society. This could be national leaders influencing citizens’ voting behaviours during election, top management teams acquiring unanimity across multiple stakeholders, an inter-departmental teamwork, a social group leader getting their members to listen to them, or a salesperson closing a deal at a price that is higher than the market price. How to influence the people around you? To get others to say “yes”, Robert B. Cialdini, a well-known social psychologist, suggested six strategies: Liking People tend to listen and comply when they meet someone they know or like, as compared to strangers or someone they don’t like. Consistent with the similarity-attraction p...

7 Leadership Lessons from Spider-Man

By ROSHAN THIRAN As a boy, my parents would tell me it was lights out and time to sleep. I would quickly then grab a torch-light and sneak under the blanket to start reading my favourite super-hero comics – The Amazing Spider-Man. I loved reading my Spider-Man comics. The stories were so interesting and Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man) was one of the most human super heroes I have ever encountered. As a young man, Parker went through a tumultuous time. He was a grade A “geek” of the highest order. He was skinny, weak and constantly bullied by his high school “star” Flash Thompson. He was an extremely anti-social boy, with inferiority complex, and a massive fear of women (well, most teenage boys would probably fit into that category including myself, hence the love of Spider-Man comics!). Even...

Keeping Your Leadership Development on Track

By SANJEEV NANAVATI Are you an effective leader? Context matters. Just consider the departure of Antony Jenkins as chief executive of Barclays in Jul 2015. A different set of priorities apparently required a different sort of leader. Equally an effective leader in one company may not be able to work the same magic elsewhere because the circumstances are different. And one must never ignore the inconvenient truth that luck casts a long shadow over performance. Leadership development is big business but are companies getting good value? Despite lots of time and money being spent on churning out leaders, it is not clear that the results justify the means. Outcomes are hard to measure. Cause and effect is difficult to establish. Yet spending often justified as an investment continues unabated....

You Breathe. . . Keep Breathing

By LOUISA DEVADASON Caution: Spoilers ahead. The Revenant is based on the true story of American frontiersman, fur trapper, and explorer, Hugh Glass (portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio). In one of the most accurate historical accounts, Glass survived being mauled by a grizzly bear, leaving him unconscious with a broken leg and gashes on his back that exposed bare ribs in the midst of extremely harsh winter conditions. Abandoned by fellow members of General William Ashley’s 1823 expedition without supplies or weapons, Glass crawled and stumbled 320 kilometres to Fort Kiowa in modern-day South Dakota. The principal antagonist is John Fitzgerald (portrayed by Tom Hardy), the man who is the primary reason Glass is left for dead, and later, becomes the object of retribution for Glass. He is not lac...

The 5 Love Languages of a Leader

By ERIC LAU Love is not a common word that is associated with leadership, more so in corporate leadership. But wait a minute, according to Oxford Dictionary, love is defined as merely a strong feeling of affection. Hence, when we talk about leading with love, we are not referring to some sort of romantic feelings but a strong positive feeling of affection we can have towards those whom we lead. Harvard professor and organisational behaviour expert Teresa Amabile’s research shows that the best leaders foster an emotionally nourishing relationship with their employees. That means loving leaders are relationship-focused and are always mindful in cultivating healthy emotional ties with others. Leaders can indeed show love. If you are still uncomfortable with using the word love and leadership ...

Empowering the Streets

By MICHELLE BOON Lights, camera, street feed! Wait, what? That’s what you get when you have a filmmaker-cum-founder of a street-feeding organisation for a friend. For this week’s issue on love and compassion, I wanted to write about someone who I believe embodies compassion. Gary Liew, a film producer, is a close friend that I’ve known for years. Articulate and charming, he’s also the chairman and founder of Street Feeders Organisation, more commonly known as Street Feeders KL. I can’t imagine how insanely swamped this guy must be. Looking back, he recalled going five days without sleep, though he said periods of madness were sporadic at the peak of his filmmaking career. Reminiscing got him wondering how he survived those times. I too, am in awe. What inspired you to go out onto the stree...

The Kedah Imbroglio: How Internal Leadership Strife Affects an Organization

By LAY HSUAN, LIM In his acceptance speech as Illinois’ state senator in 1858, Abraham Lincoln said this: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” The recent Kedah leadership imbroglio has reminded us that conflicts happen whenever groups of people are pushed together. Not only does it happen in politics, it also happens in families and business communities. The reason we butt heads is because we are creatures of different personalities, preferences and opinions; not to mention of combative egos too. These can lead to unnecessary strife when not addressed well. The scenario can become tricky when senior leaders themselves are embroiled in conflicts. More often than not, employees under their influence are the ones who suffer. Drawing from this recent crisis, and relating it in the bu...

Walk the Line

By MICHELLE BOON “Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.” —Hillary Clinton In one of her articles on work-life balance, Caroline Fairchild expressed her thoughts on the general public viewing the issue as a “woman’s thing”. Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that work-life balance is very much a man’s thing too. It was never a competition between genders. But how many of us are aware of the responsibilities taken up by the men in our lives? Are we truly appreciative of what they do for us? Here, two regular yet extraordinary men share their thoughts about work, family, and life, and how they have found their way of balancing just about everything. Do you mind sharing a little bit about yourself? Armand Yeoh Abdullah: I’m a group CEO and managing director of a healthcare gro...

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