Leader's Digest #38 (April 2020)

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LEADERS ISSUE 38

APRIL 2020

DIGEST

THE FUTURE OF

WORK


LEADERS

DIGEST

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.

Contents

ISSUE 38 I APRIL 2020

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CRISIS COMMUNICATION: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

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NEED TO CREATE THE PERFECT WORK FROM HOME POLICY? THESE 3 SENTENCES ARE ALL YOU NEED

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HOW TO PREVENT EMAILS FROM TAKING OVER YOUR LIFE

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INFOGRAPHIC: 8 TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE HARD DECISIONS FAST

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A SIMPLE STEP TO ARGUE WELL

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BOOK REVIEW: ‘HELPING PEOPLE CHANGE’ OFFERS COMPELLING CASE FOR COMPASSION

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LEADERSHIP DURING CRISIS – A STORY FROM 12 YEARS AGO

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BOOK REVIEW: CHARISMA AS A TOOL FOR SUCCESS

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

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 The Future of WERK (Work) Etymology: the origin of words. The word ‘work’ comes from the Germanic word Werk. The main application of Werk are: a) An activity serving a specific (larger) task; effortful achievement - when used in ‘a work of art’ b) The entirety of what someone has produced through creativity. https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Werk

Here is a different approach.

Interesting definitions: Work is effort expended based on the employer’s maxim. Effort expended based on one’s own volition is an endeavor rather than work.

A rock in our path does not create work. A blueprint of a house does not create work in regard to that rock. Satisfaction driven by purpose and meaning does not create work. People create work through their ideas, their vision and their mission.

Work was, is and will be human dependent. Prominent future -oriented analysts and their related organizations have been presenting, discussing and arguing on the subject: ‘The Future of Work’ with corporate leaders, politicians, academicians, technologists, futurists, etc. Some links are: McKinsey & Co https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-ofwork Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/betsyatkins/2020/03/20/thefuture-of-work-is-now/#783163af51b4 PriceWaterhouseCoopers https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/services/peopleorganisation/ publications/workforce-of-the-future.html DAVOS World Forum 2020 https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/davos-2020future-work-jobs-skills-what-to-know/ International Labor Orgnization https://www.ilo.org/asia/publications/skills-fow/lang--en/ index.htm Harvard Business School https://digital.hbs.edu/topics/industry-4-0/ Most predictions are highly operational, technical and highly valuable.

Work is a concept, a glue between a person, something and its use and worth to others and our surroundings. Will we work harder, faster, better, different in the future? This is a question that focuses on a different core: us!

This realization puts the highlighted takeover or control by artificial intelligence and the potential for work in the future into a different platform. It also means that AI, like the rock and the blueprint, requires human intervention - directly and indirectly. Can AI create work for us? Think about it. Work in the future depends on our search for more meaning and purpose in our lives and to protect and enhance our environment. And it is here where we could apply the German definition of ‘Werk’ as a guideline. Work will have its own higher demands in the future. And has to compete with other concepts like love, happiness, peace, etc. In other words, non-work concepts. Since work is a state of doing it will require sharper ideas, time, effort, attention, discipline, dedication, etc. Furthermore, many people need drivers and/or partners (the leadership team work dimension) to instill and hopefully reach a stage of self-directed motivation. COVID19’s impact on work is clear. The idleness of buildings, machinery, airplanes, ships, etc. is a scenario of what work requires. It will be the WERK of a few to bring a new normality so that the work of the majority can have its spark to give life to buildings, and allow us to be a society with the freedom to move and inter-act. Therefore, the Future of Work is about a preparedness for work continuity; of WERK-mindsets. Then, when achieved, the people will define the FoW.

Writer: Capten Peter Jahne, Senior Partner Coriolis. Peter continuous to WERK in his quest to move mindset to mindflex through behaviour-brain science toward personal, professional and organizational objectives.

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Crisis Communication:

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly BY DR EUGENE YJ TEE

“Men (and women) are like tea. Their real strength is not drawn out until they get into hot water.” No fewer than five important figures have been attributed to this quote – the most well-known and recent being former United States (US) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The same is often said of organisations and their leaders. When an organisation faces a crisis, we see what the establishment and its leaders are really made of. Crises are situations in which organisations experience a severe shortage of resources, an unforeseen challenge that threatens their financial and reputational standing. An organisation’s – and its leader’s – strengths, character and values, are laid bare under such circumstances. Crises demand that organisations and their leaders respond promptly and convey a clear sense of direction and purpose

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that address the trials at hand. Communications to both consumers and stakeholders during this time are make-orbreak moments for the organisation. The ambiguity, uncertainty, and heightened emotions that surround a crisis can rapidly escalate to damaging speculations and accusations. In some cases, these lead to conspiracies, rousing negative perceptions, and long-lasting financial and reputational consequences. Numerous companies have faced crises and emerged stronger from them. One classic example is Johnson & Johnson’s response to the Tylenol murders in Chicago in 1982. Tampered bottles of Tylenol-brand paracetamol were found to be laced with cyanide, which had claimed the lives of seven people.


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The pharmaceutical giant acted decisively, making warning announcements to hospitals and distributors and removing over-the-counter bottles of Tylenol from drug stores across the country. The company cooperated with law enforcement agencies and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in tracing the perpetrator of this crime – acts that earned much praise from the US government. Contrast Johnson & Johnson’s crisis communication strategy and response with what was shown by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). In 2015, football’s most powerful governing authority was investigated on allegations that nine of its officials were involved in a massive corruption case. The officials were suspected of colluding with businessmen and benefitting from bribes and kickbacks from the multimillion-dollar global sport. FIFA did not deny that there was corruption in the game – but it did stop short of implicating their officials for their involvement in this wide-scale fraud. They then removed the word ‘corruption’ from its latest code of conduct manual – with the new code stating, “bribery, misappropriation of fund or manipulation of football matches or competitions may no longer be prosecuted after a lapse of 10 years”. Put more simply: “If you fix a football match and we can’t find enough evidence to charge you within 10 years, you’re free to go.” FIFA defended the revised code by claiming that 10 years would be enough for investigations into match-fixing to be complete and charges to be laid. In May 2019, one year after this creative rephrasing, FIFA restored the word ‘corruption’ to its code of conduct – but only in response to scathing criticism and pressure from whistle-blowers and other influential authorities.

The good Cases provide excellent examples and description of what organisations should and – more importantly – should not do in the face of crises. Of importance is how the crisis is conveyed and managed in the eyes of consumers and the organisation’s stakeholders and employees. Take two recent short-term crises resulting from a less-thanoptimal choice of advertisement (ad) as examples. In 2017, Pepsi’s ‘Live for Now’ ad starring Kendell Jenner provoked controversy by inadvertently undermining the Black Lives Matter movement in the US. The two-and-a-half-minute short film featured Jenner joining a public rally calling for peace, love and acceptance across people from various ethnicities, races and sexual orientations. Jenner offers a can of Pepsi to a police officer, who accepts and takes a sip from the can. The crowd bursts into fervent celebration. “If only daddy would have known about the power of Pepsi,” came the fittingly sarcastic response from Bernice King, daughter of civil rights activist Martin Luther King. Agreeing with King’s quip, critics argued that the ad made light of the plight of African Americans, implying that racism and police brutality can be solved by a fizzy drink. The ad was pulled 24 hours later, with both Pepsi and Jenner apologising and stating that the video “missed the mark” of what it had originally intended. Another similar advertising misstep was committed by Dove in 2018. In this ad, a dark-skinned woman removes her blouse, ‘transforming’ herself into a Caucasian woman. Critics were quick to point out the inappropriateness of the ad; many saw it as blatantly racist and insensitive, insinuating the superiority of fair over dark skin. In both cases, however, the companies responded promptly. Both ads were removed from their official webpages and social media channels, and an apology was issued by senior representatives of both companies. While not everyone found the crisis communication and apologies to be sincere or sufficient, the companies responded within hours of the public backlash – with action and apology. In crisis situations, the organisation needs to be prompt, not rash; responsive, not reactive. Organisations also need to convey their intention to consumers and their employees as quickly as possible. This was what Pepsi and Dove did right. Neither company responded by defending or denying – or further justifying their ads.

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What the Pepsi and Dove commercials also suggest is that companies need to carefully consider the necessity, relevance, and appropriateness of portraying contemporary race, ethnicity, and gender-related issues alongside promoting their products or services.

Public relations (PR) experts called United’s response a “fumbling, clumsy one”. Stakeholder backlash to the airline’s crisis and its response was swift and merciless – investors devalued the airline’s market value to a tune of close to USD1bil following the incident.

Any corporate communication or messages need to be especially sensitive to the norms of the current times and be inclusive to today’s increasingly diverse consumer and employee base.

There was one major problem with United’s response. Dao was in no way disruptive or belligerent. The entire incident was filmed by Flight 3411 passengers on their phones. The videos defended the doctor, and the passengers themselves attested to his good behaviour.

Internally-circulated crisis communication messages need to inform and update employees of leaders’ and the organisation’s actions – conveying an apology and setting a course of action for the critical time that follows. As far as we can tell, there appear to have been no long-term repercussions – financial or otherwise – on either Pepsi or Dove.

They also univocally agreed that Dao was undeserving of the concussions, broken teeth and nose that the security officers left him with. Bowing to public pressure and feeling the financial and reputational sting of a poorly handled crisis, Munoz retracted his earlier statements.

The take-away here? Sensitivity, empathy, and responsiveness to both consumers and employees are essential when communicating during crises.

A more conciliatory tone followed two days after the incident, with the CEO apologetically stating, “…no one should ever be treated this way…we will take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.” United’s CEO also claimed that “…it is never too late to do the right thing.”

The bad On Apr 9, 2017, United Airlines Flight 3411 awaited departure from Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The flight was overbooked, so an announcement was made requesting four passengers to disembark the flight to make way for four airline staff.

Except that in crisis situations, it can often be too late; organisations do not get a second chance at making that important first impression. The leader may express empathy towards staff, but insufficiently towards consumers, as was the case with United.

Such procedures were standard practice – necessary to accommodate airline staffing and roster requirements (a practice called deadheading). Three passengers, randomly called, gave up their seats. One passenger, 69-year old doctor David Dao Duy Ahn, refused.

How an organisation responds first to a crisis signals what its core values are and where its focus is on. And in United’s case, the empathy that was shown to Dao 48 hours later was much too late.

The airline’s response to his refusal was nothing short of brutality. United called in security officers, who aggressively manhandled Dao, dragging him kicking and screaming off the flight. Chief executive officer (CEO) Oscar Munoz defended the airline’s actions, accusing Dao of being “disruptive and belligerent”, issuing what many perceived as a half-hearted apology for the airline’s aggressive actions. Munoz further defended the security officers’ actions, saying that he backed them “empathically”. He then claimed that such an act was simply to ‘reaccommodate’ passengers – a term that was sharply criticised by those following the story. One journalist said the euphemism was as bad as “alternative facts” – insincere, inaccurate, and a poor attempt at covering up United’s excessive use of force on one of its passengers.

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The airline could have responded in a manner that exemplified its claimed values: “We respect every voice…make decisions with facts and empathy and celebrate our journey together.” It could have embodied, through its actions, its slogan: Fly the friendly skies. Instead, it left the incident reeling from a financial repercussion and reputational damage that would reside in the minds of both passengers and investors in the foreseeable future. Both internal and external parties need to be carefully considered – and the crisis communication message balanced with an understanding of how the organisation’s first response shapes these parties’ perceptions. When communicating in crises, companies do not get a second chance at a first impression.


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Adding insult to injury, investigations then later revealed that disgraced former CEO Winterkorn had known about the cheating as early as May 2014. Instantly, allegations that Winterkorn had known and allowed for the cheating scandal to continue further tarnished VW’s image and standing. Investigations into this crisis and scandal continue at the time of writing, and Winterkorn could face up to 10 years in prison and millions in fines for his corporate criminal role in denying and covering up the scandal.

The ugly…(and a bit more good) There is no shortage of ugly – terribly handled crisis situations. One, however, that comes to mind is the Volkswagen (VW) Emissions Scandal that was traced back to 2008. Also known as ‘Dieselgate’ or ‘Emissionsgate’, the scandal involved VW diesel vehicles being equipped with a ‘defeat device’ – a piece of hardware or software that tampers with the emissions controls when subjected to emissions tests. It’s a pretty nifty little tweak to make if your goal is to pass emissions tests and certify your vehicles as environmentally friendly, which was what VW intended to do. In order to meet the stringent emissions standards set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), engineers at VW equipped vehicles with software that limited the emission of NOx (nitrogen oxide) – a known cause of lung cancer. Under actual driving conditions, however, the vehicles emitted more than 40 times the amount of NOx. By some scientific projections, the excess pollution caused by these unknowingly approved, heavy-pollutant diesel vehicles would lead to 59 premature deaths and aggravate respiratory problems for many more. Investigations into this unethical, deceptive practice were only made known in 2015 – eight years after these defeat devices were installed into the VW diesel vehicles. And at least initially, the crisis was handled terribly. Then CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned in Sep 2015 when allegations surfaced and investigations commenced. Winterkorn denied any knowledge of the emissions scandal, stating in a video interview that he was “endlessly sorry” for the crisis befalling the company. Angry customers were ‘compensated’ with USD1000 prepaid credit in the form of a Visa and dealership card – a response criticised by US Democratic senators as being “insultingly inadequate”. The company posted a loss of €1.7bil in the third quarter of 2015 in dealing with this crisis, and the reputational repercussions from this fallout also spilt over into a loss of trust in the automobile.

PR experts criticised VW’s handling of the situation – one calling the web of deceit, lies, “half-truths”, and downright denial one of the worst PR disasters since the 2001 Enron crisis. And yet, there is still something to be learnt from this scandal, and VW’s subsequent response. In the years following this crisis, VW worked almost singlemindedly towards regaining both their employees’ and customers’ trust. The company took responsibility for its role in the cheating scandal. They reached out to employees to seek their feedback, providing them with the opportunity to vent their thoughts and emotions from this fallout. They kept employees in the loop on any updates, not via internal email, but through faceto-face communication. Recently, the automobile company even made an ad acknowledging the emissions scandal with the tagline, “In the darkness, we found the light” – presented fittingly, to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence. The company owned up to the scandal, paid its dues (a large chunk of them being legal ones), and, while it took some time, VW now sees continued growth in emerging markets such as China. The VW scandal tells us that PR responses and crisis communications strategies are crucial in helping save and even improve the company’s long-term standing. This case also shows that how companies respond to crises and how they integrate corporate communication into their long-term strategy can determine if, and when they recover from a major setback.

Dr Eugene YJ Tee

Dr Eugene YJ Tee is presently Senior Lecturer and Research Coordinator at the Department of Psychology at HELP University.

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How to Prevent

Emails

From Taking Over Your Life BY DR AMANTHA IMBER

I have a confession to make. I love checking email. I love how productive I feel smashing through hundreds of emails in a single hour. I feel efficient. I feel like I am getting things done. But here is the thing – I used to be an email addict. I used to check email constantly throughout the day. It would happen when I was writing an article and I had reached a stuck point. It would happen when I was waiting in line for a coffee. It would happen when I would be out for dinner with my husband.

“While you might scoff while reading this, I know I am not alone. Research published in Harvard Business Review revealed that 60 percent of workers spent less than two hours per day disconnected from email. And one in five people spent less than 30 minutes disconnected.”

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Now, email gets a bad rap. People complain that email is the biggest drain on their productivity. And certainly, it used to be a big drain on my productivity. But it’s only bad because of the mindless way most people approach their inbox. Instead of checking email willy-nilly throughout the day, we need to approach our inbox strategically. We need to utilise our inbox for its strengths, not its weaknesses. The best thing about our inbox, which can equally be seen as the worst thing, is that once we enter it, the reward centre in our brain is lighting up like crazy. Because of the inbuilt addictive design of email-checking (the random presentation of good, or at least interesting, ‘bits’ of news), for most people, it is energising and gives us a dopamine hit. We feel super productive responding, and then deleting or archiving, emails, and it generally doesn’t require much brainpower. Which means email is the ideal activity for when your brain is at its least sharp (early-mid afternoon). As a psychologist, understanding the psychology behind the addictive nature of email helped me overcome my addiction. I also deleted the email app from my phone which helped a lot too. I now keep my email closed until lunchtime, or until I have completed my most important tasks for the day. But on an ideal day, I wait until around 2 pm to check my inbox because its an effective way to re-energise myself from a post-lunch dip. This is how to apply the 2 pm email re-energiser:

Block out 30 minutes in your diary at 2 pm. Call the calendar appointment “Meeting with Inbox”.

Set a timer for 30 minutes. If you skip this step, it’s too easy to get sucked into the email vortex, only to escape several hours later.

Try to avoid taking a sneaky look in your inbox for at least the previous two hours (although ideally, you have lasted the morning without any checks of your inbox). The more surprises that await you, the better.

Open up your email. Most likely, you have a lovely, full inbox.

Conquer the quick wins. Spend a couple of minutes deleting all subscriptions and emails you were cc-ed on but didn’t actually need to be cc-ed or bcc-ed on. You’ll trigger the reward centre of your brain through making a tonne of progress in a short space of time.

Next, start to reply to the emails where you can have the biggest impact.

When your timer goes off, close your inbox. Everything else can wait until later.

Repeat later in the afternoon if you need another pick-me-up.

Dr Amantha Imber

Dr Amantha Imber is the Founder of Inventium, Australia’s leading innovation consultancy and the host of How I Work, the number one ranking business podcast about the habits and rituals of the world’s most successful innovators.

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A SIMPLE STEP TO

ARGUE WELL BY JOSEPH TAN

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We all get into conflict situations every now and then. Instead of avoiding the disagreements, we should learn the skill to argue well! Now, to argue well does not mean to be antagonistic – on the contrary, the ability to argue well carries with it the potential to clarify the situation rather than create more confusion. However, it requires wisdom to discern between identity and idea. Now, while all human beings are created equal, not all ideas are equal. The task of a well-crafted argument is to single out the good ideas from the bad ones while maintaining equal respect for every individual. If a person’s identity and worth is interwoven with the quality of his or her ideas, then the argument becomes personal. Here’s the simple step to argue well: “Debate the idea without attacking the individual’s identity.” How do you walk this tightrope to ensure that the argument remains professional without becoming personal? 1. Affirm the intention People generally begin their conversations with a positive motivation in wanting to do the right thing. Look beyond any initial prejudice to identify the heart of the presentation rather than the heat of the discussion. 2. Acknowledge the effort People are especially encouraged when we take note of the effort invested into their work. Sure, the outcome may not be what is expected but we ought to be careful not to belittle any person’s investment of time and energy. 3. Compare and contrast This is the logical part of the argument where ideas are compared against one another to determine its worth. Yet, this third step will fail if you do not first create the emotional safety net of step 1 and 2, which are vital in creating an atmosphere of mutual respect. Innovation happens when we are able to argue well in the realm of ideas. In my experience, the bottleneck to innovation is not a lack of creativity but a lack of mutual respect for each other as fellow human beings with equal worth.

Joseph Tan

Joseph is a Leaderonomics faculty trainer who is passionate about engaging with leaders to transform culture in organisations.

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LEADERSHIP DURING CRISIS – A STORY FROM 12 YEARS AGO BY REJIE SAMUEL

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The year was 2008, and we had every reason to be excited about the future. My company – an automotive parts supplier – had been bought over by a private equity firm with operations in China, the US, and Australia. We had just ended 2007 with a bang: a 13% increase in revenue across all accounts from the year prior. Nor were we any strangers to profit, as the company had been experiencing double-digit growth since 2005. We did have slight reservations about Australia and whether the automotive industry here would survive. However, we were not too concerned as more and more projects were filling up our pipeline. The upwards trajectory seemed infinite. Then, at the start of the second quarter of 2008, customer forecasts predicted a decline. We weren’t too concerned. It was nothing more than a speed bump, we told ourselves. We would slow down for a while and then it would be back to full throttle. And full throttle it certainly went, just not how we wanted.

“Our sales plummeted and we finished 2008 with 30% less revenue versus 2007. 2009 wasn’t as bad though – here our revenue only declined by 27%. In two years, we had lost 57% of our top line.” The world now calls it the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Everything began to fall apart very quickly. The crisis had actually started in 2007 with a decline in the subprime mortgage market in the United States, and quickly developed into a global banking crisis. Our sales plummeted and we finished 2008 with 30% less revenue versus 2007. 2009 wasn’t as bad though – here our revenue only declined by 27%. In 2 years, we had lost 57% of our top line. In July 2009, General Motors, our biggest customer, declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and cancelled many vehicle brands. From the four programs we had with GM, we lost three, leaving us producing at only a quarter of our capacity. At least we no longer had reservations about whether the Australian automotive industry would survive – we knew it was a matter of time before it went down under. Decline during growth years Depending on the industry, lead times play a big role in how you can react to an event. In the automotive industry, revenue recognition starts about 24 months after an award (though it’s much shorter in China). In those 24 months, there is plenty of

cash outflow to support the launch of the program. So there we were, buoyant about the future, planning our growth, when the rug was pulled from right under us. Thankfully, we had done something about earlier doubts regarding the Australian automotive industry. Since the end of 2007, we had already begun relocating assets and manufacturing lines to Thailand. Had we not done this, the company would have been unable to support our customers and we would have ceased to exist. It’s an alternative that still chills me to this day. As if matters could not have been worse, this was the year our CEO was diagnosed with cancer and had to step down. There we were, falling revenue, poised to run out of cash in 20 days and with no CEO to lead us. Then one day the board turned to me and asked if I could lead the company alongside a chairman parachuted from a different industry. There are times you cry for joy when you get promoted, then there are times you just cry. Whatever the case was (just crying) it was time to get to work. Setting a clear strategy One of the most important responsibilities of a leader is to create a clear strategy and develop a communication plan for the company. This is imperative as when pretty much everything around you is in chaos, there must be clear guidelines on execution so the team knows what to do. I developed a 3 pronged action plan: Reduce, Stabilise & Grow. Reduce Obviously, we couldn’t pretend it was ‘business as usual’. We had to re-size and make tough decisions. And we had to make them fast.

“We even had to exit a few of the projects we had been awarded. At the time, they were simply not generating enough value to see us through that particular period.” In such situations, you have to be decisive and act as if your hair is on fire. Our primary focus was to reduce costs as quickly as possible and to renegotiate our funding structure with the banks. The closing down of our Australia operations was brought forward and all forms of costs were cut, delayed or renegotiated. However, it was paramount that we execute the reductions while continuing to keep an eye on opportunities

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for growth. In our case, we knew the industry would bounce back and we had to ensure that the restructuring did not impact our chances of growth when that time came. I have seen too many instances in which good businesses are brought to a complete halt by indiscriminate cost-cutting. We questioned everything and set clear directions for each segment of our business. We even had to exit a few of the projects we had been awarded. At the time, they were simply not generating enough value to see us through that particular period. For us to continue to compete, we needed to enhance/ maintain our engineering capabilities and quality processes. Thankfully, we succeeded in both increasing said capabilities while finding cheaper alternatives. Stabilise The execution of our plan had to be time-bound and strictly on schedule. To ensure the company maintained intensity, we organised a ‘War Room’ where we had daily updates on key actions. When it appeared that execution was slowing down, we increased the meeting frequency to twice a day. Any team handling a business during a crisis needs to appreciate the need for operations to be stabilised quickly. You need to regain some semblance of normalcy so that the company can forecast cash flow requirements and eliminate surprises. Getting daily cash flow forecasts is crucial. Additionally, you need to maintain strong communications with your key partners on your payment plans. We always started our daily meetings with a review of the cash flow for the week. We also took advantage of the downturn to revisit and enhance our processes. We looked at previous quality issues and upgraded our processes with better and cheaper practices. I am quite happy to say it worked. We improved our financial forecasting process and became so much better at predicting cash flow that we were accurately forecasting ending cash balances.

Rationalisation’ and kept a keen eye on opportunities for growth. We focused on strengthening our engineering capabilities with a clear strategy and improved efficiency with better quality processes. As a result, we won a significant amount of projects as the automotive industry slowly rebounded. We understood early on that electric and autonomous vehicles would play a bigger role in the future and we ensured that we had the right strategies to take advantage of this. Because of this, we developed a company that only designed and manufactured HVAC module & CRFM (Condenser, Radiator & Fan modules) to provide a wider range of solutions to our customers. We became one of the top thermal solutions providers in the automotive industry. Our China business strategy targeted customers (or brands) that were overlooked by consumers and even the government. We had to engage the right customers who drove the China automotive industry. For our efforts, we signed significant deals with Geely, Chery, SAIC, VW China, NIO and many more. Today, we have a foothold in more locations than ever; we’ve recently started new operations in India, Thailand, Mexico, California, Slovakia and have built yet more plants in China. Not a bad turnaround if I may say so myself. Nimble and flexible Crisis management calls for quick actions. Because the situation is never well defined, you have to be flexible and ready to change direction quickly. Under normal operating conditions, it might be ok to wait until you get all the data before acting or making a decision. Not so during a crisis. You will have to able to make decisions with only about 60% of the information you need. This is where having a good set of people around you is important – more on this later. The constant meetings to review progress is where you will get to see if your plans are working and if not, what changes need to be made and by when. Execution based thinking

Grow The Global Financial Crisis of 08’ truly turned the ultracompetitive automotive world into a level playing field. In the end, we were one of the very few automotive suppliers that did not declare bankruptcy. By the end of 2009, a total of 27 automotive suppliers had declared bankruptcy including Lear, Visteon and many others like Delphi and Behr had been sold. As mentioned above, we executed ‘Strategic Cost

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“Leadership without the discipline of execution is incomplete and ineffective – Ram Charan & Larry Bossidy” Even during normal periods, good businesses ensure good execution of their plans to achieve their goals. This is even more crucial during crisis management. It is all about


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discipline and clarity of what actions must be taken. Do not be generic with your action plans. For example, an action plan cannot simply be ‘reduce costs’. It has to be broken down into categories of costs. For each line item, the costs must be fully understood. This is important to achieve strategic cost rationalisation as it will help you evaluate the risk of reducing and/or eliminating the cost item. You also need to take execution to a different level. Your messaging has to be clear and succinct. Get your team to give you feedback on their understanding of what needs to get done. You also need to get the team to challenge or report present situations to enable you to revisit or change tactics quickly. Execution plans need to be visual. We created our own Execution Strategy called ‘Focus 5’. It outlined five key areas and within each of those areas was a detailed list of actions. These five areas were based on key elements in a typical automotive business: Quality, Program Management, Cost Management, Customer strategies & People. For starters, we asked that everyone focused on 3-5 items. Close them out and then develop the next 3. This forces team members to focus and also motivates the team. We humans can get easily demotivated if we see a list of ten or more items to be completed. Heaven forbid that the first 3 items are not successfully implemented. It would create a sense of hopelessness in the group and nothing would get done. People

“It is people who get things done. No amount of latest technologies, efficient processes and fancy certifications will make up for execution by someone who lacks motivation or skill” Unsurprisingly, all key steps to managing during a crisis are centered around people. At all times, you must have the right people on your team. It is one of the most important things you need to do when deciding on a strategy. You may come to realise that some team members you valued before the crisis just do not have the right skill sets to help the company now. This was the hardest thing I had to do, and if you are a true leader it will never get any easier. This is one of the first steps you have to take and you need to give your team the space to appreciate and understand the

rationale behind your decisions. In my experience, situations destabilise when messages are delayed and communication processes are not well thought out. It is people who get things done. No amount of latest technologies, efficient processes and fancy certifications will make up for execution by someone who lacks motivation or skill. On the contrary, this can breed negative emotions which are especially contagious in a crisis. We developed a concept called ‘CARE’. This concept revolved around the need for people who care enough about both the product & the customer. CARE is the final, and the most obvious ingredient to make a successful company. We ensure that CARE exists at all levels within our organisation. You need to surround yourself with people who will think differently from you and have different emotional reactions. The danger for a leader is to lapse into a false sense of security as almost everyone agrees with you. I was fortunate in that I have had team members who did not hesitate to challenge me and in fact it was at the insistence of one of my executive team members that we developed our electric vehicle(EV) strategy. If, as a company, you never had a good human resource strategy, making and communicating changes during a crisis is even harder. That is the reason HR must play a vital part of your operations. HR cannot be a department just about payroll and getting your allowances. It has to be the glue that holds the departments and the CEO together. Summary The current COVID-19 crisis is, in my view, far direr than the situation we faced in 2008/9. The human and economic implications are profound and it will take some time before we are back to normalcy. As leaders, we will still have to steer our organisations in these turbulent times and I believe the fundamentals gained from our prior experiences should now be applied in earnest. Having a clear strategy and working on having the right people around you are the two most crucial steps you need to undertake. You will have to make difficult decisions and when they are made, act on them and do not second guess yourself. When a team sees a leader who is not phased and is continually communicating with them, I truly believe half the battle is won. REJIE SAMUEL

Rejie Samuel has served in various positions for over 15 years the last two as CEO. He is presently a Board Member at Air International Thermal Systems. Rejie is passionate about making an impact on society and developing young talent.

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NEED TO CREATE THE PERFECT WORK FROM HOME POLICY?

THESE 3 SENTENCES

ARE ALL YOU NEED BY JEFF HADEN

Because where remote work policies are concerned, less is definitely more If your employees are now working from home or in some way working remotely, you’ve probably already worked out the infrastructure kinks: Between email, phone calls, texts, and messaging platforms (Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc.), communicating and collaborating may not be perfect… but you’re making it work. Which is when many boss’s thoughts naturally turn to the next step: Creating a work from home policy.

“For any leader faced with the new normal - and especially for people whose leadership style skews towards command and control - suddenly needing to manage a distributed workforce can feel extremely uncomfortable.”

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But it can also provide the perfect opportunity — since, really, you have no choice — to shift to a more effective leadership style. So don’t be tempted to create a comprehensive list of expectations, guidelines, procedures, policies… and worst of all, potential repercussions. Your work-from-home policy can be, as I’ve written about before, three short sentences: 1. Get your work done. 2. Be available. 3. Over-communicate. Yep. That’s it. How people work, when they work, whether they’re incredibly efficient and able to get all their work done in six hours, or whether they’re relatively inefficient and take ten hours… barring any intra-day deadlines, who cares? Bill Gates used to memorize employee license plates so he could look out the window to see who was still at work. Eventually, he realized that managing by results was more important… and a much better use, as a leader, of his time. So don’t worry about how many hours your employees work. Lead and manage by expectations and deliverables, not by virtual “butts in seats.” What matters is what gets done. The same is true for availability and communication. It goes unsaid that employees should be available during work hours. It goes unsaid that employees should communicate problems, issues, challenges… as well as ideas, suggestions, and opportunities. So just say that. Say, “This is a challenging situation, and we need everyone’s best — especially their best ideas.” Aside from that? Treat your employees like the professionals they are. They know the situation. They know what’s at stake. Trust them to step up. And if one person doesn’t? Deal with any performance issues as a one-off situation, not as a reason to add bullet points to your work from home policy. Because good employees don’t need policies. They just want to know what really needs to get done. Wherever they’re working.

JEFF HADEN

Jeff Haden is a speaker, ghostwriter, and author of The Motivation Myth: How Highly Successful People Really Set Themselves Up to Win.

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Infographic: 8 Tips on How to Make Hard Decisions Fast BY MEREDITH WOOD

Has the time come to let a toxic employee go? Should you open another business location? You likely won’t get very far in business if you haven’t mastered the art of how to make a hard decision quickly and intelligently. If it seems like you simply can’t make hard decisions, no matter how many deep breaths you take or almonds you snack on, maybe you can’t. This is called ‘decision fatigue’. We make anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 decisions per day, and that’s exhausting! With thousands of decisions per day and millions per year, we gradually wear down our self-control and willpower until we’re incapable of making smart decisions. Luckily, you can train your brain to combat this.

Set a mental—or physical—timer for two to four hours per business decision. Aim to weigh the pros and cons and consult with trusted advisors within this time frame. If the choices are equally attractive, go ahead and make a decision. Chances are, you can adjust your decision as needed later on, and you won’t waste time deliberating aimlessly.

good decision to get you started and prepare you to make a more informed decision later on.

2. Follow the 10-10-10 method

Before a meeting, formulate some if/ then scenarios. For example, you might say that if Jerry interrupts you three times during a meeting, then you’ll say something to him. Before a business development call, anticipate what questions a potential client might ask. Write down 10 if/then scenarios and rehearse your responses. This way, you can train your brain to think logically when it comes to unanticipated difficult decisions.

Ask yourself how a particular business decision will affect you 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years from now. Write down your answers and reflect on them. If you reasonably think you can live with the consequences of your decision in the medium- and long-term, go ahead and make the tough call. If you think you might feel disappointment or regret, consider an alternative.

5. Write down 10 ‘if/then’ scenarios

As a business owner, you can’t account for every wrinkle in the plan that might come your way, but you can think about a lot of them!

Jump to our infographic below for eight expert tips to train your brain to make better business decisions more quickly— whether you need to decide on how to cover the bills, which insurance to purchase, or any other business decision. Or, keep reading for an in-depth look at decision making.

3. Practice with the little things

1. Avoid ‘sleeping on it’ too often

If you can master the easy decisions, you can begin to make heftier decisions that affect your business more quickly as well.

Sure, habit and precedent can help you make easy decisions faster. However, when it comes to how to make a hard decision, you’ll want to focus on your own common sense and thought process. Making a decision just because ‘you’re supposed to’ actually limits your ability to think logically and make difficult choices in the long run.

4. Take the ‘lean startup’ approach

7. Listen to your hopes

It sounds a bit odd, but stop aiming for greatness when thinking about how to make a hard decision. Oftentimes, good decisions made now beat great decisions made later. All you need is a reasonably

Think about how many times you’ve struggled with a hard decision because you hoped something would happen, but your brain told you it wasn’t practical.

Someone has probably told you at some point in your life to ‘sleep on it’. While stopping and thinking certainly has its merits and shouldn’t be discounted, many small business owners take this practice too far and overthink decisions to the point of inaction.

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How long did it take you to decide where to go out for dinner yesterday? How about which TV show to watch? Give yourself a maximum of 30 seconds to make simple decisions—or not-so-simple decisions, depending on how you look at it—like these.

6. Ditch the ‘you’re supposed to’ argument


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Remember that you’re not purely rational. You have hopes and dreams and should listen to those. Often, your hopes are the best indicators of what choices you really want to make. 8. Notice your rationalisations

Pay attention to how much you’re trying to justify a decision to yourself. Maybe you’re choosing between two suppliers, and others around you think you should choose supplier A over supplier B. Maybe you’ve also settled on supplier A, but then you find yourself dragging your feet and making excuses not to reach out to supplier A. That’s your brain trying to tell you something. (Maybe you actually want to choose supplier B.) Listen to what you truly want to do, and follow that path. Check out our infographic to determine which type of decision maker you are and learn how to make a hard decision the right way.

Meredith Wood Meredith Wood is the vice president and founding editor at Fundera. She is specialised in financial advice for small business owners and is frequently sought out for her expertise in small business lending.

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Book review

‘Helping People Change’ Offers Compelling Case for Compassion BY SANDY CLARKE

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What does it take to get the best out of someone? How do teachers, therapists, and leaders work with people to help them fulfil their potential? These are the kinds of questions that have inspired decadeslong research by Professor Richard Boyatzis and colleagues as they sought to piece together the puzzle of effective leadership. Boyatzis is a distinguished professor in organisational psychology, based at Case Western Reserve University, Ohio, with more than 150 research articles on leadership under his belt. His latest book, Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning, is co-written with colleagues, Professors Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten, and takes an in-depth look at how those in positions of leadership can help people create a personal vision for their ideal future. The book looks to answer a central question: “You’re trying to help – but is it working?” Over the years, plenty has been written about effective leadership, and so Helping People Change might be seen as ‘just another book on leadership’. On the contrary, it blends a wealth of valuable research, pertinent anecdotes, and practical guides that come together to drive home how leaders can genuinely foster lasting positive change in the people they support. Traditionally, leaders might have chosen the carrot-and-stick approach to coaching (some using more stick than carrot), which describes a method of persuasion that uses both the promise of reward and the threat of punishment. The image that comes to mind is that of a donkey or mule being coerced to comply to move in the direction its master desires. In Helping People Change, the authors argue that this outdated mode of leadership – coaching for compliance – is likely to lead to a workforce that’s withdrawn, defensive, and disengaged. Instead, leaders should coach with compassion, which might sound like a fluffy ideal, but the research points strongly to the benefits of compassionate leadership for both employees and their organisations. Using his Intentional Change Theory model, Professor Boyatzis outlines five key stages that comprise effective leadership. The first builds a solid foundation by helping the individual to develop their ideal self through the creation of a personal vision, which sets the stage for transformational change. Boyatzis argues that leaders who ask questions such as “What is important in your life?”, “What kind of purpose would you like to serve?” empowers employees to visualise a meaningful

future and a belief that they can attain it. Research conducted by Boyatzis and colleagues suggests that people make a deep emotional commitment to change when they create an image of their ideal self and can see the possibility of working towards it. Conversely, when leaders coach for compliance, they use ‘should’ and ‘must’ statements and tend to focus on weaknesses in need of improvement rather than strengths that can be harnessed. This is what leads to defensiveness and disengagement: leaders might be well-meaning in their attempts to help people improve, but coaching for compliance leads to undesirable outcomes for all concerned. As well as outlining the research and theory of change in a manner that’s accessible and engaging to the reader, the authors present several intriguing case studies. Stories include an alarming tale about a young boy who was erroneously put into special needs classes due to his teachers’ false assumptions that he was troubled rather than inquisitive. Another explores the frustrating struggle of a football player whose passion really lay in running. Once she was able to shift her focus, her commitment and development soared to greater heights as she connected with something that brought her immense joy. Helping People Change presents a powerful case for compassion in leadership, inviting leaders to recognise the importance of emotion that facilitates change. As the authors write:

“To be an effective coach or successfully work in a helping role of any kind, you can’t get around the critical role that emotions play in people’s change efforts. Coaches need to become experts at recognising and skilfully managing the emotional flow of the coaching process.”

By picking up this book, you will gain insights into what truly makes people tick and help them to create their best selves. For anyone in leadership or the helping professions, Helping People Change is a resource that’s rich in key learnings from esteemed researchers who know what it takes to be a compassionate, effective and resonant leader. Sandy Clarke Sandy is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, and previously enjoyed 10 years as a journalist and broadcaster in the UK. He has been fortunate to gain valuable insights into what makes us tick, which has deepened his interests in leadership, emotions, mindfulness, and human behaviour.

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Book review

CHARISMA AS A TOOL FOR SUCCESS BY IMRAN HASHIM

Imagine this situation: you have just arrived at a networking dinner. You find yourself surrounded by mostly unfamiliar faces. You’re here on a mission: to make new contacts in the interest of your personal and professional gains. Like your life depends on it. It is an event packed with industry titans, important figures that you would consider yourself lucky to have the opportunity to rub shoulders with. You have prepared a stack of business cards to exchange. The occasion, after all, may provide a significant turning point in your career (if not now, perhaps later on). This is your chance to make an impression and be remembered by total strangers. For some people, this situation is right in their home ground. They feel comfortable, absorbing in the moment to shine and are able to just charm the audience. Think of any charismatic figure – you’ll most likely be convinced that the person’s presence can liven up any room. There is some sort of magnetism to this persona that can captivate others, men and women. Think James Bond. But let’s be honest. Not everyone can be Agent 007. Luckily, research has shown that you don’t necessarily need a particular sort of physique or even appearance to exude charisma.

Fortunately, in the book titled The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane, Cabane explains that charismatic behaviour can actually be nurtured. Charisma, as it turns out, takes in three forms: • Presence • Power • Warmth Going back to our networking dinner scenario, being Present is important to make yourself memorable to others. That means actually listening to others, and this has to be channelled internally so that it is authentic. You will also feel more at peace when you are focusing on your current environment. And when you are relaxed, your body language (Power) will show it, eliminating any internal discomfort, allowing you to concentrate on and really engage (Warmth) with others. The fact of the matter is, people like to be listened to. It shows that you respect and value them. OVERCOMING ANXIETY Speaking of discomfort, it is normal to experience moments of negativity – anxiety, self-criticism, self-doubt. The truth is, even professionals go through it. What is important is to de-stigmatise the discomfort and create a positive mental state. Removing or minimising the obstacles to Presence, Power, and Warmth is critical to projecting your inner charisma. According to Cabane, there are three steps to overcoming physical and mental uneasiness: 1. De-stigmatise Acknowledge and realise that the same experience can and has happened to others. This nervous feeling is a common occurrence that we all experience as imperfect human beings. It is perfectly normal and is nothing to be ashamed of. 2. Neutralise Now that you’ve come to grips with the self-inflicted negativity, step two is to neutralise it. Really ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen?

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Take away that magnifying glass focusing on your weaknesses and recognise that you will probably survive and re-bounce. Notice that the emphasis is on neutralising the situation, not suppressing it. 3. Rewrite reality The third and final step is to rewrite your reality. Now imagine you are in a traffic queue at a busy junction, and someone cuts you off as the light turns red. How dare that person! Expletives aside, your response would neutralise if you knew that the driver was rushing for a medical emergency. This is not to undermine your plight, but simply to attune you to positivity. Harbouring negativity can be a real drag to your personality. Of course, this three-step approach will require practice. Like all professional athletes, they do a lot of warm-ups to prepare their body and soul for the task ahead. Apply the same concept to gradually build up and enhance your personality. DIFFERENT CHARISMA STYLES It goes without saying that charisma styles can be different. A person’s charisma style can vary according to personality, goals and the situation. In the book, Cabane outlines the four major types of charisma along with its underlying indicators: 1. Authority charisma – Power to influence others If you are fortunate enough to have engaged the services of big brand consultants, you would have seen it all: wellpolished mannerisms (body language), bespoke suits and admirable titles. They have one clear aim: to project status and confidence. As they should be – their handsomely paid professional services are in high demand. Any less of a stature might reduce their credibility to deliver outstanding results. People with authority charisma project status, stature and have a high ability to influence others. 2. Focus charisma – Highly focused and fully present People with focus charisma are always listening to your dilemmas attentively, guiding you through the rough patches, patiently imparting golden wisdoms.

3. Visionary charisma – Formidable belief system American president Barack Obama recorded major milestones during his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns for rallying a nation under simple notions carried under the slogans “Yes we can!” and “Forward!”. Amidst global financial turmoil, Americans rallied behind Obama, carrying the hope of fixing their troubled economy. A person with visionary charisma demonstrates passion with conviction, and exerts a magnetic influence on others. 4. Kindness charisma – Unconditional warmth People with kindness charisma are big-hearted. You might spot some in your workplace: they are respectful, always smiling, and often voluntarily offering help to others. People with this style of charisma are noticed for their approachability. They are likeable. However, individuals with this charisma style must balance it so that they don’t come off as too eager to please everyone. Consider adopting this charisma style to foster good working relationships with people around you. Being charismatic of course, does not mean that you will never have to deal with difficult situations. While it cannot be avoided, charisma can definitely help. The four different styles above can be applied as appropriate to the different situations you find yourself in. Project status, express appreciation, share vision, and show warmth and compassion. In an office environment, it’s equally important to exercise this in person and also in communication channels (on the phone or via e-mail). Cabane’s The Charisma Myth is a great guide to developing charisma, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested to boost their interpersonal skills. Go ahead and give it a go. Charisma can be a powerful tool in your career to increase your sphere of influence and leave a lasting impression on others.

Remember when you were growing up and your parents were always there for you? Or a mentor who has helped you through your career challenges? You can’t help but feel grateful for people with this style of charisma. They make you feel heard and understood. Are you looking to solve a difficult situation? Take a minute, listen to others, and understand their challenges. Your genuine warmth towards others will be a major likeability factor.

Imran Hashim

The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane, is published by Penguin US. It is available at all leading bookstores in Malaysia. Imran Hashim is a self-confessed introvert, and he considers Cabane’s book especially useful for learning how to create a lasting first impression at first-time meetings.

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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