Leader's Digest #50 (April 2021)

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APRIL 2021






Publication Team EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Ismail Said Assistant Editor Diana Marie Capel Graphic Designer Awang Ismail bin Awang Hambali Abdul Rani Haji Adenan

* Read our online version to access the hyperlinks to other reference articles made by the author.



04 The Dawn of Hyper-Learning 08 The Five Love Languages of Leadership

12 5 ways The Coronavirus has Changed Leadership Roles

Read this issue and past issues online at leadinstitute.com.my/ leaders-digest Scan the QR code below for quicker access:

14 Innuendos of Trust

10 Creating a Culture Club Builds Ownership of Teamwork

LET US KNOW If you are encouraged or provoked by any item in the LEADERS DIGEST, we would appreciate if you share your thoughts with us. Here’s how to reach us: Email: diana@leadinstitute.com.my Content Partners:

Leader’s Digest is a monthly publication by the Leadership Institute of Sarawak Civil Service, dedicated to advancing civil service leadership and to inspire our Sarawak Civil Service (SCS) leaders with contemporary leadership principles. It features a range of content contributed by our strategic partners and panel of advisors from renowned global institutions as well as established corporations that we are affiliated with. Occasionally, we have guest contributions from our pool of subject matter experts as well as from our own employees. The views expressed in the articles published are not necessarily those of Leadership Institute of Sarawak Civil Service Sdn. Bhd. (292980-T). No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s permission in writing.


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From the

Editorial Desk Ready, willing and able? Whenever, wherever, with whoever for whatever? As per the Oxford dictionary: Trust: Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. The internal mechanism of trust – what gives it its structure - also depends upon the reliability, integrity and ability of each of its sub-elements. This traceability is what gives trust its complete meaning and value. Here is a simple example. “Can I trust that this meal is healthy for me?”, you say to yourself, upon getting a plate with a grilled fish, some rice, steamed broccoli with fresh garlic and sprinkled with fried ikan bilis. The meal’s elements are in the healthy food category, the cooking procedure gives them another thumbs and the final sign of approval is because it also falls within the suggested diet list given by your doctor. But can you trust this meal to be healthy beyond the obvious, that basic first-level testing mechanism? Trust is the embodiment of the whole and as any whole, its elements must also be trusted as these are the building blocks of the larger trust. The small ‘trusts’ create the bigger one. The more we can qualify the elements as trustworthy, the more accuracy (not just confidence) we can give to our larger statement of trust. Such robustness, this blind dependency on something or given to somebody, will require us to investigate, qualify and many times also quantify something / somebody a bit more than what is initially, quickly perceived or offered. Taking our ‘healthy’ meal through a trust assessment process, some questions can help us to get a more definite grip on trust. Can you trust the source of the fish, the rice, the broccoli, the garlic and the ikan bilis? Finding out the answer to the same initial question (“Can I trust this meal is healthy for me?”) will have more value than the level-1 approach (the quick perception). Then comes the trust on its logistics (the transport of each item from its source to the market where it was bought from). Then the trust on the cooking process. Then, trusting the health report and recommendation of your doctor from whom you got your health diet guide. And as much as these are all separate trust areas, their combined sum creates the ultimate trust strength. Sounds like a simple mathematical formula? It is!

Adapting this example to the work environment, the leadership environment: how far are we willing to go to check trust? Will you trust something if the source or the process is not clear, maybe not even provided? And just because you know the source, and it ‘sounds’ acceptable, will you go as far as checking its current status? That’s a lot of effort. It will require extra time and resources. Justifying such an approach will depend upon the criticality of the person or item that we are to trust as we plan to move on to the next stage. Care to trust is therefore reflected in the effort in investigating the anatomy of each body of trust. And it is exactly in this word ‘anatomy’ that we can derive the most powerful realization. Anatomy, meaning the structure and working of our human body is what leads the doctor to advise on the health diet that is being proposed. Our doctor does not base the diet guidelines based on what is obvious and easily visible – we may look fit – but on assessing every organ in our body and find out how these organs are processing it all within our uniqueness. Would you trust a doctor who doesn’t take this path of deeper investigation to assess the reliability, ability and integrity of our anatomy? … I thought so! Now, going back to leadership, to our daily duties and responsibilities, are we ready to give and take trust as we have done before? Will you ask different questions to qualify that next ‘healthy’ meal? Maybe trust is like every living organism; it changes, it evolves and as such must then be reassessed within the context we are being faced with. Trust in one place may not be trust in a different place. Trust today may be different from the trust in the past. And to go as step further, how does trust play a role in the anatomy of empowerment. Is it the deciding factor? In essence, empowering is about trusting. It asks the question as presented in the title above. It determines how we see others and how they see us. Whom have we empowered lately? And, with what have we been empowered recently?

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Self-directed, non-linear, and asynchronous learning, enabled by a digital ecosystem. The pandemic has set us apart but will go a long way in bringing us together cognitively. This marks an acceleration for the era of asynchronous and social learning. For the better, a few things will need to change permanently, one bing our learning infrastructure and the way we educate ourselves. While social learning has been around (Bandura, 1986) since 1963, the power of observational learning is yet to be fully utilised by both the pedagogical and andragogical experts. Most learning professionals, teachers and ‘gatekeepers’ of knowledge think of the human mind as a constant dumping ground for their ideas and ‘teachings’. For a long time, education has been limited to this kind of brain-training. Focused on operant conditioning, teaching machines (Skinner, 1938) and a whole host of brain programming, further aided by a serial Montessori system of education, has all but reduced a few human generations into highly educated yet ‘learning-challenged’ professionals.

People do not need lectures, they need skills. If this is to ever change, now is the best time. We may well investigate the learning systems of the past from both the Oriental as well as Aristotelian eras, where learning and growing occurred simultaneously, bringing people closer to nature, and making observation a critical input to learning. Although ironic, our digital infrastructure may end up bringing people a lot closer to each other, and with nature. How will that happen? As people recede from artificial air-conditioned workplaces and spend more time reflecting (in an individual setting or home work conditions), as well as mingling more with society around them (akin to a rural ecosystem), there may be opportunities for more observational behavior compared to the politics and competition of a corporate setup. And hyper-learning is more about reflection than teaching. A 300 Bn USD corporate learning industry powered by such giants as Microsoft, Google and a host of other e-learning and learning experience players have brought together plenty of learning opportunities that no longer require a conventional classroom. If, however, there remains a missing element, it is that most e-learning is merely a conversion of existing courses into an e-learning flow. 4

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This is one reason why such solutions find little adoption from corporate learners. A college student goes through their learning content not to learn, but to secure grades that can land them a better job. The e-learning industry has largely copied the worst (or best?) practices of their predecessor: the grand classroom. Sometimes they even rebrand themselves as ‘MOOC’s’ or ‘open-learning platforms’ that are equally unappealing. In his book, How People Learn, Nick Shackleton-Jones (Shackleton-Jones, 2019) carried out a detailed analysis of this phenomenon and how it is failing the learning industry. But this can change fast, and who is changing it? Whether from the ranks of school-goers, college students or corporate nine-to-fivers, we are seeing a revolution in learning from the learners themselves. Much like how Einstein penned his Theory of Relativity from a cranky government office, the greatest of uprisings do not come from corporate or educational institutions, but from those outside it. That is what is happening to the learning industry today. It is moving away from the shackles of education and typified serial learning. And what is it transitioning into, exactly? People do not need lectures, they need skills. They need skills to find a better job, to enjoy better social status, or to pursue their interests based on their hierarchy of needs and cognitive social standing. A few smart organisations like Microsoft and LinkedIn understand this need and invest a great deal in providing their people with skills and free resources that help them become better at work (Bersin, 2020).

While we certainly can when we must, humans are not wired to learn serially. How is hyper-learning going to change the game for the modern learner? It’s a little bit like herd immunity – it may be one of the single most important objectives for us as a global community today – to succeed against the virus and build antibodies that protect everyone. No one knows the mechanism behind herd immunity, but it happens and multiplies rapidly – faster than the virus itself – to protect lives. All this happens in quite an asynchronous manner. If our bodies and immune systems learn asynchronously, why not our minds? Ultimately immune systems are also controlled by the brain (read, mind). This is highly suggestive of the idea that humans learn in an asynchronous and not a serial manner. While we certainly can when we must, humans are not wired to learn serially, instead having been ‘taught’ through operant conditioning methods to do so in the last 200 years or so. Consider the great Industrial Revolution conspiracy theory that this teaching method was adopted to robotise the workforce: repeat the same activity, every day, for your entire working life. In his celebrated and highly criticised work The Morphic Resonance, Rupert Sheldrake talks about ‘the mental phenomenon’ that extends the mind as a field (not as an object), and that extends to connect with other fields asynchronously (Sheldrake, 1981). The morphic fields are asynchronous, and help people learn in ways that cannot be serially explained. Many high-reliability organisations use these methods of learning (Weick, 1995) and training that allow people to learn from the morphic fields, or through a method of attention, deviating from the regular five senses.

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So, how do we tap into hyper-learning, both as learning facilitators and as actual learners? At the outset, it is about the learner, not the teacher. Learning is always a property of the learner, and the external entity, including nature and the teacher alike, may at best influence it. That being said, there are three important conditions to start a hyper-learning culture: Focus on the Learner’s Need When do you take time to learn? Note: Worldwide; 2019 Further information regarding this statistic can be found on page 50. Source(s): Gp Strategies; ID 885973

To and from work (e.g,. on a commute)

During breaks at work

After work or on my day off (e.g., evenings weekends)

When I get a reminder or alert (e.g., calender invite to a webinar)

When I need it

The learner’s need is the first important condition. “You cannot teach a learner what they do not want to learn.” To further add, this also is largely self-driven. The individual needs the learning at the time they need it, and in the manner, that will challenge them optimally to acquire it. The need and its self-driven nature are the single most important factor. It may happen either due to cognitive laziness (last minute learning for an urgent task) or even heightened awareness (viz. social distancing in pandemic times), but nevertheless is the reality. In a recent study, an overwhelming 80% people agreed that they would like to learn at the instance of their need. This behavior is interesting, given the age-old belief that we should take students through a system of Montessori education for a quarter of their lives, including college degrees and school systems, when from the very beginning, we could have actually tapped into their needs and triggered them into learning in the direction of their needs. It is time that we shift the learning resources creation, in such a way, as to make it needs-driven instead of syllabus-driven. The Heightened Emotions Share of employees worldwide who believe learning technologies are effective in 2018, by type of technology Note: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States; 2018 Physical and manual skills

-16% -11%

Basic cognitive skills

-17% -14% 7%

Higher cognitive skills

9% social and emotional skills

22% 26% 52%

Technological skills Western Europe

United States


The emotional (read: neuro-cognitive) state of individuals draws them to learning something new. Most of the time, mental rigidity is due to previous experiences that causes the mind to act in a certain way to external stimuli. However, this may be changed.


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In a heightened emotional situation, people tend to drop previous learnings and learn new behaviours that are required for new realities. For example, following a diet program and leaving your staple eating habits to lose weight or due to certain illnesses. People learn when they are emotionally drawn to it. This is a cornerstone for learning professionals, as the learnings that you require your learners to take must emotionally appeal to them. In fact, emotional skills will be much in demand, in addition to higher cognitive and technological skills, as we look forward to the future. This may sound quite counter-intuitive; digital transformation and the changes in industry underway today will redefine the range of human skills required. Social Learning, Observation and Experience

A hyper-learning system is built by bringing right resources to the learners at a high speed in the simplest format, and which help them with their real work tasks. People learn from observation and first-hand experiences. They look at others, consciously or subconsciously to imitate behaviors. Social learning and observation are among our most ancient abilities, as learning quickly was key to survival. The more novel the experiences the better – research suggests that 90% of the people prefer learning on the job, and 83% through mentors or coaches. Considering the host of technologies available today, these results are hardly surprising. This is the greatest indicator of the fact that we ‘learn by doing’. Learning is not just about cramming objects in the brain, but also the muscle memory that recalls the same when an application of the learning for a task is required. High reliability organisations, detective agencies and even some of the learning industry have been aware of this fact for a long time. It’s just that the educators seem to ignore it. They continue to dump in content in one form or the other, which in reality no one ever consumes. So, one should stop indiscriminately creating content and listen to learners’ needs. Reflecting on my own consulting work over the last year, we have seen technology transforming the workplace extremely rapidly. In fact, digital transformation is not only a differentiator, but by far the one most important factors for sustainability. Cloud and AI technologies are no more part of the board-room discussion but actual shop floor implementation. In such a scenario, a right hyper-learning strategy is key to drive the hyper-learning engine as rapid unlearning and re-learning will be a requisite need of the future. A hyperlearning system is built by bringing right resources to the learners at a high speed in the simplest format, and which help them with their real work tasks. In this instance, it is also important to know that learning is a social phenomenon. Communities are key to learning and therefore learning must be a social challenge, where people are willing to invest in learning. Collective intelligence and mind-fields help everyone in the commune learn faster and attain a required degree of expertise. Enabling collective intelligence is the strategy that organisations will need to draw from. It was no coincidence that in the search of wisdom, the monks took to commune (the “Sangha, in Pali, and Buddhist language). A community helps achieve two distinct objectives – for one, it keeps the constituents in flow by keeping them cognitively challenged and emotionally stable. Secondly, it brings the right resources through influencers, which is key to knowledge continuity in the community (Hess, 2018). We are going to see an acceleration in the hyper-learning adoption and shedding of the existing educational and training methodologies. And the next stage of evolution in learning is going to be through learners, not by trainers or educationists.


Lokesh Nigam is the Co-Founder & Director at Kognoz Research & Consulting. He has worked intensely in the Change, Transformation and Leadership space.


Srinivasan has over 15 years of industry and consulting experience with global and regional organisations in India, South East Asia and the Middle East.

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feedback to excel at work. A few sincere, choice words can really lift the spirit if someone had a bad day or further encourage them to do more and be more.



Five years ago, I worked with an employee that was highly stressed out about a lot of things. He was very unproductive and unfocused. We worked together online, so it was hard to gauge exactly what was going on. However, I believe in communication, so I contacted him to find out what was going on. He had many people in his life that didn’t believe in him. These things really got him down. So, I decided to give him some uplifting words. I reminded him of all of the reasons I hired him, and I reminded him of his excellent work in the past and how much I believed in him. From that point forward, he started performing much better. He even won employee of the month a few months later. I never made anything up. I just brought up the good points in him that already existed and accentuated them. When this happened, I made sure not to take any of the credit for his success. Leaders must understand that we are facilitators, motivators, and visionaries. We should never have big egos where we feel like we need to take credit for someone else’s success.

#2 Career Development

When you are afforded the privilege and responsibility to be in a position of upper management in a company and lead others, it’s imperative to work on yourself as much as possible while also focusing on uplifting your team members. Uplifting your team members is not only the right and kind thing to do; it dramatically increases the morale and productivity of your company. When you have the admiration and respect of your colleagues, this is a precious thing and should not be taken lightly. Personally, I have thought deeply about the position that I am in as the president of Day Translations and what that means. My role empowers me to not only grow as an individual but also make a positive impact on the financial and professional lives of thousands of people. Each employee has different things that are important to them. Choosing only five things might be oversimplifying the highly complex human mind, but it’s an excellent place to start, and as managers, it’s always good to swing into action. Therefore, I present to you what I call “The Five Love Languages for Business Leadership”. It compares the love languages in personal relationships and applies them to the workplace. Some employees have all of these love languages, and some only have one or two of them. It’s important to know what love languages your employees have and cater to their specific needs.

#1 Words of Affirmation

The first language of love in the workplace is Words of Affirmation. Some employees rely on verbal communication and


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The second language of love is Career Development. This is important to a lot of people. Some people are happy staying where they are, but many employees have an inherent urge to grow and evolve in their careers. Most employees want to feel like they are growing with a company and feel a strong sense of accomplishment and self-worth in what they are doing. Therefore, even before hiring an employee, you need to have a clear-set career path for them. In my companies, I believe there should be a path to success and growth for every position, from the most entry-level position through to the executive and C-level. In some ways, you can help people grow in their career is by offering paid or reimbursed educational courses for them to improve something that’s directly related to their profession or something they are highly passionate about. When you encourage people to follow their passions, they will love you forever. It’s essential not to be selfish as a leader. If someone has a passion different than the position they are working in, you should either find a position within your company that is more aligned with their goals or allow them to leave and pursue their dreams. It’s never ideal forcing someone to do something that they aren’t happy with. If you help them grow, pay for their classes, give them more responsibilities, and let them know that there is an excellent opportunity within your corporation, they will stay longer. You will decrease turnover, save money, and increase the knowledge base of your employees. You should always fully train and arm your employees with all of the weapons they need for success. This will increase the level of talented people who apply to your company, too. It’s a snowball effect



#3 Financial Rewards

The third love language, in the simplest of terms, is Money. Monetary compensation is always at the top or near the top of anyone’s list when applying to a company. Money, contrary to many trite sayings, solves a lot of problems for a lot of people. People need to meet their basic needs, and, after that, they want the things in life that fulfill them, like a family, a house, and the ability to pay their bills and fix things that break. When you pay someone a commensurate salary that matches their experience, education, and needs, they will be much more productive at work. Without these things, it’s stressful, and their minds will be somewhere else. If you want to compete with the top companies in your industry, you will need to pay your employees a salary equal to or higher than your competitors. You should have a clear plan for bonuses and raises in your company, Do not just give raises and bonuses out like candy, though. This could have an adverse psychological effect. Your employee could sense insecurities in you and feel like your company is desperate for them. You should have a structured quarterly review for your employees and evaluate them based on their effectiveness and productivity. If they exceed your standards, give them a raise. Another thing that I always do as part of my personal policy is to say: “We are giving you a raise. With this raise, we expect harder work and more accountability.” You don’t just give raises for free. You need something back from them in the form of more efficient work. For those employees who are motivated by money, lots of ancillary perks will not do; they want money… that’s what they want.

#4 Quality Time

Fourth, we have Quality time. Personally, I am not in my career to sit back and relax or retire. As my company has grown, I have had to step back and allow others to do their job. While this has reduced some of my workload, I have learned to use this extra and spend it on my employees in the form of listening, understanding, compassion, feedback, and more. It is imperative to know your employees and treat them like humans. Ask them how their husband is. Enquire about their dentist appointment. Remember their dog’s name. All of these things create a bond between the company and its employees. Please note that I said company and employees, not “you and the employee”. If you are trying to create a bond between you and the employee, this is a selfish act. The ultimate goal should be the overall health, success, and reputation of the company, not yourself. I use a lot of my free time at work to focus on the needs of my employees. When doing this, it’s perfect to ask questions about their life, instead of always just centering the discussion around work. For example, you can say, “Fatima, how are you? I just wanted to know how your weekend went. Do you have any pictures from your beach trip?” After discussing it, just let them go back to work without asking for anything else. This way, it

doesn’t seem fake or that you had any ulterior motives when asking them. Often, when you are kind to people, a defense mechanism pops up in their head, and they say, “what could this person be wanting?” Show them that you genuinely want nothing but their happiness. Give them your quality time.

#5 Acts of Service

The final language of love in leadership is Acts of Service. I have been reading up a lot on servant leadership. I highly agree with many aspects of this philosophy while also mixing in other things with it. When you are willing to serve your employees as one of them, you gain their respect. Some of the most outstanding leaders in history put themselves on the front lines to lead their squad. You should always be willing to help your employees when they need you. For example, talk to your employees (I just call them colleagues to put us all on the same level. No one is above anyone in the world) and ask them if they need anything. Maybe they want something as small as a cup of coffee. If so, go ahead and get them a cup of coffee so they can complete their work. Or, they may want you to read over and edit a large contract for them. Either way, by showing your employees that you are on their side and willing to do anything to help them succeed in their job, you are gaining their trust, loyalty, and respect. In return, you get an effective employee and a high morale booster.

Final Thoughts

Speaking the wrong love language in leadership can cause your message to get lost in translation. As leaders, we need to focus on noticing our colleagues’ behavior, so we can pinpoint the love language that most resonates with them. Implementing the use of love languages in the workplace is no easy feat. It will require time and repetition, but the results are worth every ounce of effort. When you intentionally reinforce the leadership love languages, you’ll increase staff engagement and improve the health and productivity of your company as a whole. Your efforts will create an environment where your team members feel appreciated and valued, which will have a wide-reaching impact beyond the bottom line. The five leadership love languages are words of affirmation, career development, financial rewards, quality time, and acts of service. While some employees speak only one of these languages, others might speak all five of them. As a leader, it is your responsibility to meet the needs of each of these love languages to create an environment where your team members can thrive. It is said that happiness is an immeasurable asset. Although we cannot physically measure and compare it, it is an invaluable commodity in the workplace and one that is attainable with the use of leadership love languages! SEAN PATRICK HOPWOOD

Sean Patrick Hopwood is the C.E.O. of Day Translations, Incorporated. A lover of languages, peace, progress, education, and positivity, Sean speaks fluent English, Spanish, French, Arabic, German, Portuguese and Hebrew, a demonstration of his lifelong love of culture.

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Creating a Culture Club Builds Ownership of



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Building An Effective Workplace Culture

Culture is a team effort

Workplace cultures are the sum of everyone’s beliefs, behaviours, attitudes and skills. This means that no single person is responsible for culture, it belongs to the team. Of course, a senior manager has a big say in the safety of the culture and has to role model what they expect of others. Where they bully, demean, rant and rave, then they – in effect – give permission for everyone to do likewise. The good news is, that the opposite is also true.

As culture is owned by everyone within the team, the club should have representatives from every area. This is not the traditional way of setting up working groups or task forces. Usually, their attendees are from the same small group of ‘high-potential’ employees, rather than having a mix of roles, departments, skill sets, mindsets, viewpoints and ages.

When they choose to be kind, empathetic, set expectations well, elevate others and celebrate success, then this has a motivating effect of everyone on the team. It provides encouragement and inspiration and a strong impetus for team success. Team members then take an active interest and role in defining the culture (vision, behaviours, principles of collaboration) required to deliver any product or service. Once these cultural foundations are laid, then the hard work begins, because defining team culture is not a ‘set and forget’ activity. Like any strong plant, it needs feeding, watering and plenty of sunshine and this is where the formation of a monthly culture club can be hugely effective. Now, I know what you’re thinking. ‘But Colin, didn’t Boy George already do this about 30 years ago?’ Well, yes. There’s really only one Culture Club and it contained Boy George, Jon Moss, Mikey Craig and Roy Hay. Formed in London in 1981, they’re still touring at venues around the world today. I remember seeing them perform ‘Do you really want to hurt me’ on Top of the Pops in the early 80s and loving the mix of new wave and reggae and the way Boy George challenged the traditional view of what a band frontman should look like. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before and the band felt ahead of their time.

Many team cultures are mired in the old ways of doing things and remain in the hands of people (often managers) who work hard to make change hard. Outdated methods, swim lanes and complex rules serve only to protect the status quo – unless, of course, teams take the time to design and implement something to change that way of thinking and acting. And the start of the year – given the challenges ahead in 2021 – is the perfect time to do this. Culture clubs don’t have to be too structured. They can simply address an issue that’s been encountered in the last month, or else be a learning opportunity for team growth. They are most effective, when they are a mix of both of these things. I’ll give you an example. One team that I’m working with alternates every month between addressing issues and evolving skills sets. The latter addresses development topics such as having a growth mindset, setting expectations well and having difficult conversations. Issues addressed include changes to the way that services are procured, how external team members are treated and how teams measure their success (moving from individual to team goals). All of these sessions seek to continually improve the culture so that it never stands still. Culture belongs to everyone and only when everyone takes an active interest in its evolution can it stay vibrant. A regular culture club is a great way to do this.

Which is a great metaphor for a workplace culture club. It builds on something that’s already established, challenges prescribed norms, and looks for ways to be unique or else incrementally improve upon them. It recognises its roots but isn’t satisfied staying there. In my experience of helping people transform their cultures, the teams that become exceptional are relentless in their search for better ways to do things. This is the role of the culture club, a cross-functional group of people who co-own their working conditions and are committed to improving the way things get done.


Colin D Ellis is a culture change expert, an award-winning international speaker and a best-selling author. His latest book ‘Culture Fix: How to Create a Great Place to Work’ has seen him travel all over the world to help organisations transform the way they get things done.

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5 ways The Coronavirus has Changed Leadership Roles BY CAROLINE KENNEDY


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Understanding The Shift in Leadership Roles Post-Virus The COVID-19 pandemic has changed and shifted our expectations of the leadership role. The swiftness of change and the uncertainty it inflicted on us has altered our values. We’re seeing leadership in a new light. Existing leaders now need to reassess their roles in response to the change. There are five major shifts in thinking and values, which will forever change the leadership role. 1. Shift in the perception of ‘valuable’ employees. Businesses have realised the importance of their frontline teams in getting things done. Without the efforts of these people, who are often at the lower end of the pay scale, many businesses couldn’t have continued. In an essay by Kramer and Kramer, they pose the question, how are individual perceptions of meaningful work and calling in certain occupations influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic? It’s only when a crisis hits that the glory of some roles loses out to those which were considered lowly or mundane. Ask yourself, who would be most important to you now – someone who deliver the materials/tools/information that you need or your CEO? Where is the value now? 2. Shift in team member priorities. Being kept apart from family or friends has shown people where their true priorities lie, and it’s not work. Our relationships have changed. If you asked any member of your team who matters now, it will almost certainly be family. That’s where people want to spend their time. When it’s possible that you could lose the people you love most, you realise what really matters to you. Leaders need to accept and work with the changed priorities of their people because if it comes to a choice, work may not come out on top.

3. Shift in the expectation of empathy and personalisation. One of the biggest adjustments requires leaders to adapt to the individual. Whether they are in the office or working from home, leaders need to use their EQ to understand each person’s situation, their pressures, their priorities, and their values. No longer can they think of their team as a single entity – and this is challenging. More than ever, leaders need to show themselves as humans and build relationships with their people. Honest, authentic conversations about work and life will enhance connection. Empathy will solidify it. 4. Shift in the decision-making power. Having remote teams has meant leaders have had to step back from the work and let their people manage it for themselves. The companies who have given their people some autonomy and decision-making power are those who have had the best results. It makes sense. To retain power is to lose your agility and that costs the company in the long run. If you have the right people in the job, why not show your faith in them? It’s time to let go control over the details of people’s work and instead, start to support them. Make sure they have everything they need to make the right decision and get the work done. 5. Shift in focus. If there is one thing we learnt during this time, it’s that plans can be shattered at the drop of a hat. While planning is still important because you have to know where you’re headed, it’s the outcome leaders need to focus on instead of the journey. Your purpose is the driver, and it’s what will hold your team together. I see a significant move away from system or processled leadership towards a more human one. While we still value strong and adaptive leadership, there is now a heavy emphasis on ‘soft skills.’ How do you measure up?


Caroline Kennedy, author of Lead Beyond 2030: The Nine Skills You Need to Intensify Your Leadership Impact, is an accomplished CEO and global thought leader on business and leadership. She is a highly sought-after mentor and coach to top global executives. A respected keynote speaker and author, Caroline’s methods are neuroscience based to achieve rapid development and growth.

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Perhaps you’ve heard this sentence way too many times; how the pandemic has changed so many things. Well, here’s another one; we have to wear mask everywhere we go. Wearing the face mask has unavoidably caused the visual range surrounding communications to also change completely, simply because it’s always been unsettling for not being able to see the full face. How do we nurture trust in such a volatile environment? Trust is the bedrock of relationships. Trust is often like a thermostat; we can turn it up and perchance at a different time, turn it down. Sometimes we don’t have enough history with someone to really decide if they are trustworthy. Possibly, some of us in certain scenarios refer to one’s body language and facial expressions as a point of judgement or even as the point of decision in determining whether to trust or not. Marissa Laliberte-Simonian, the associate Editor with WebMD writes that, our body language, is said to make our statements more assertive, enrich the message, and reflect confidence, which may work as a catalyst to build trust. Body language is believed to help express thoughts with better clarity and create a better connection to the person next to you. But then, are these non-verbal cues the only place to harvest true meanings? Over the years, many new and alternative thoughts about this have arisen. Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy says the concept of chirality pronounces that the face is capable of showing two different emotions at once. For example; Comfort versus Tension or Gleeful versus Indifferent. What or which one is the face truly communicating? In that case, is the face and body language enough reference to build trust? American Professor at the University of Houston, Dr. Brene Brown who culminated a seven-year study on the future of leadership, is one researcher who has come up with diversified variation of what trust means. In her book Dare to Lead, she described trust as the act of “choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else”.


Issue 50 I April 2021



Below is the list of items I’ve extracted from her book which I find most striking as the elements that build trust in leadership. Reliability You do what you say you’ll do. At work, this means staying aware of your competencies and limitations so that you don’t over promise and are able to deliver on commitments and balance competing priorities. Integrity You choose courage over comfort. You choose what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. And you choose to practice your values rather than simply professing them.

Generosity You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others. Accountability You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends. Non-judgment I can ask for what I need, and you can ask for what you need. We can talk about how we feel without judgment.

Thinking about the complexity of trust made me recall the story I read about a company called Warby Parker. At the launch of that company, there were people who declined to invest in them, mostly in reference to physical or external evidences perceived as their being ‘not ready’. Today Warby Parker is recognized as the world’s most Innovative Companies valued over a billion dollars. American psychologist Adam Grant says, at times a journey towards trusting is so long that leaders may have to rely on having the eye, the heart and mind for talents who can be recognized as ‘originals’. Those who are non-conformists, employees who not only have ideas, but they take actions to champion them. Ironically, these people may not even look like what you EXPECT them to. What are the innuendos of trust that captivate you as a leader? I also learnt from Dr. Sopian Bujang, an Industrial Psychologist from UNIMAS that it is best to take things as it is, not arbitrating matters too deeply, and to at all times seek to understand. To recapitulate, I’ll say this. Synchrony is harmony. As leaders, it certainly takes a lot of effort to engage with others, both conscious and subconsciously. Through faces we can show that we care. Through our faces we can validate what others are going through. Through understanding facial expression, we might gain understanding of ourselves and how our body language affects others. Talk to them. Give people in your teams more than a glance from you as they pass by. There is a jar of marbles at my work space. The marbles represent stories of my leaders, colleagues, associates and friends throughout the years. It serves as a humble reminder, of those people that made a difference in my life, both professionally and personally. Trust is built in every small moment and my marble jar is overloading. Undeniably, trust makes the heart grow two sizes.

What is GROWTH for if not to help ordinary people THRIVE? - Winnie Byanyima -


Diana Marie is a team member at the Leadership Institute of Sarawak Civil Service attached with Corporate Affairs who found love in reading and writing whilst discovering inspiration in Leadership that Makes a Difference.

Issue 50 I April 2021


“Striving to become a strong, capable leader is a commitment you can make at any stage of your career. You have a role to play and Your role makes the Difference.” Ismail Said, CEO Leadership Institute of Sarawak Civil Service

Leadership Institute of Sarawak Civil Service KM20, Jalan Kuching Serian, Semenggok, 93250 Kuching, Sarawak. Telephone : +6082-625166 Fax : +6082-625966 E-mail : info@leadinstitute.com.my