Leader's Digest #41 (July 2020)

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LEADERS ISSUE 41

JULY 2020

DIGEST


LEADERS

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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 41 I JULY 2020

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HOW TO HANDLE FEAR AS A NEW LEADER IN CHALLENGING TIMES

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MICROMANAGE IF YOU WANT ZERO ENGAGEMENT

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4 WAYS TO SHOW YOUR WORTH AS A SUPER EMPLOYEE

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HOW TO PREPARE FOR A PHONE OR VIDEO INTERVIEW

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4 WAYS TO JUGGLE MULTIPLE ROLES WITHOUT BURNING OUT

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THE CONCEPT OF FATHERING

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

7 TIPS TO USING CHAT APPS MORE EFFECTIVELY AT WORK

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 Are you in the Line-up? “Would you like to go to the front line?” As one prepares to answer, some questions immediately are brought up by our internal adviser: ‘the fear factor manager’. If one has been in the front line, the question: “Would you like to return to the front line?”, will filter in courageous people straight away. What a difference! When experience exists, the thinking process is sharper and controls the emotional process with objectivity. Reality-based decision-making provides candidates for more possibilities of success and enter these type of ‘yes people’ into the Courage classification pool. Front line is a military terminology. It represents confrontative situations that challenge the individual at many levels, especially the psycho-emotional ones. Front liners are typically those who face negative scenarios, many times unpredictable, often new and sometimes complex. Front liners don’t have many escape routes when confronted with an opposing force. An incremental opposing force highlights incompetence, team disintegration and/or process weaknesses. Being in the front line by choice is different than by force or by default. No matter, which channel brought us to the front line, courage will be the observable and very felt representative of a person’s determination, stamina and creativity. How about the selection without decision-making possibility, when those we are to deal with the question: “Who should we send to the front line?” The likelihood of courage potential should not be left to chance when it can be planned. Yet such planning demands that those selecting front-line candidates come primarily from the front-line experience pool. Unrealistic perception of a front-line can have devastating consequences. Choosing front-line candidates through academic processes can give confidence but doesn’t necessarily provide accuracy.

If there was a course on Becoming a Top Front Liner, would the person completing the course qualify to be sent to any front line? To be a front liner requires both the ‘selector’ and the ‘acceptor’ to concur. Often, an experienced ‘selector’ may know better and direct a person to go to the front line, because s/he has behaviour and skill insights beyond the understanding of the to-be front-liner. This is how a coaching mentality differs from a training mentality within the front-line leadership and management framework. Courage is the ability to understand the related fear yet managing the situation towards success without letting fear overrun the thinking-to-action process. Front-line leadership and followership are reached when the fears are clear, understood and describable, even better, role-played. Front-line courage is therefore frontline fear realization, acceptance and management. Those agreeing to go to the front line with an avoidance blueprint are likely to put in danger those who go with an approach behaviour. Furthermore, we must be fair to those who go knowingly and willingly against those who don’t. The front-line environment makes them obvious as ‘hiding’ one’s true personality there is complicated. When one is a spectator to the front line action (maybe somewhere in a comfortable and secure ‘central command centre’ maybe even not truly understanding what it means to be in the front line) depending on selected summarizing front line aspects given in very exact percentages (leads to questioning?), out-of-context visuals, one may easily succumb to the illusion of front line depth and insight. And strategic decisions that are sparked by these information bits can lead to incongruent, many times dysfunctional front-line environments. Front-line decisions are many times immediate, unrehearsed and fall under the VUCA umbrella. Front-lines are everywhere and have no definite life-span nor area of coverage. Many times, we make front line environments where there shouldn’t be any. And by the way, whose front line is it anyways?

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HOW TO HANDLE

FEAR

AS A NEW LEADER IN CHALLENGING TIMES BY ROSHAN THIRAN

Landing your first role as a leader can be daunting in the best of times. It’s an exciting opportunity to take a team or an organisation in a new direction, and leadership is a role where you have to hit the ground running. There’s an expectation (not least of all from yourself) to show what you can do. As we head into the second half of 2020, we’re just beginning to get a handle on the health crisis that hit the world earlier this year. There is still a number of challenges and obstacles to navigate and uncertainties to understand and overcome. Covid-19 has left economies, organisations and people’s livelihoods in a precarious state as we collectively try to figure out the way forward, one move at a time.

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It’s understandable, then, that a new leader might be fearful of stepping into a big role at a time when big visions and bold decisions are the dish of the day. The phrase ‘thrown in at the deep end’ comes to mind. And yet, while finding yourself in a leadership position for the first time can be a formidable task, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to grow and learn in ways other leaders miss out on in ‘normal’ times. For example, I know leaders who, prior to the health crisis, had no idea what Zoom was, let alone how to use it. The notion of creating a podcast, taking part in a Facebook Live event, or hosting a training webinar simply wasn’t on their radar.


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Three months later, we’ve all been compelled to embrace these means of communication and become familiar with them – working from home, there’s no choice. So, we’ve had to adapt and overcome previous doubts and fears that, otherwise, would have been left to a more convenient time (i.e. the not-so-near future). Fear will always be a part of leadership, given that it’s been a basic driving emotion for modern humans throughout our history. Like every other emotion, fear serves an evolutionary purpose: it helps us survive, make sense of the world, and make progress. With this in mind, the trick isn’t so much to overcome fear but to harness the emotion and use it to our advantage. Fear becomes a problem only when we let it get out of control. Just as fire has several uses, it’s dangerous when it becomes excessive. Fear is the same. It can drive and motivate us so long as we use it in the right way (without it, we’d likely find ourselves in more risky situations). As a new leader, you have to learn to regulate yourself if you hope to regulate other people and situations. Here are some tips you can apply that will help you deal with fear in a way that it serves you without paralysing you. Often, we see fear as a negative emotion, as something to get rid of, which, ironically, only increases its hold over us. On that note, let’s jump into those tips: 1. Accept that fear is a natural response In any crisis, even seasoned leaders will feel a degree of fear, whether they show it or not. It makes sense, as an emotion, fear makes us alert to challenges and reminds us of the importance of what we’re up against. So far, in 2020, we’ve all found ourselves facing several challenges.

In just a few words, the mind takes us from making the wrong decision to losing all credibility. All leaders get decisions wrong on occasion – none of us is free from that reality. The key is how you respond to setbacks. You can dwell on your mistakes and spiral into fear, or you can learn from what went wrong and how you can rectify the situation, and do better next time. It’s in our failures that we learn, grow, adapt, and thrive…but only if we frame them as opportunities to learn. 3. Emulate…but never compare When we land our first leadership role, it’s helpful to look to a leader that we admire and ask ourselves, “What qualities do they possess that took them to where they are today? How can I integrate their example with my own style?” Emulating people we admire allows us to have a sense early on of the kind of leader we want to be as we develop our own style and approach. The pitfall to avoid is making comparisons – especially on social media. Everywhere you look, there will be ‘experts’ and ‘gurus’ and leaders showing off in all sorts of ways, but remember that social media is a controlled snapshot of what people choose to show. Focus on your own development, let others take care of theirs. Keep your mind on where you are and where you want to go, not on where you ‘should’ be. 4. Take leisure time seriously I know, I know – it’s fashionable to talk about working 70-to100-hour weeks, staying ahead of the competition and keeping your edge as a leader. We might look to leaders like Elon Musk and the late Steve Jobs and be inspired by their drive and determination.

The advice to ‘overcome your fear’ applies when fear becomes debilitating – “Don’t let it hold you back” – but a healthy dose of it can be beneficial and drive us toward successful outcomes. As a result, we grow more confident and resilient as leaders as we learn to use our fear, rather than be consumed by it.

They are, to be sure, exceptional people, and that’s the keyword – exceptional. Most of us, if we don’t get enough rest and leisure time, see our performance and general well-being dip, not improve.

2. Avoid catastrophising – see the bigger picture As a new leader, you might have thoughts that sound like the following:

Leaders who are sleep deprived tend to be ‘more impatient, irritable, and antagonistic’, whereas those who take time out to enjoy life and get regular exercise improve their cognitive function, leading to better decision-making, problem-solving, and the ability to connect well with others.

What if I make the wrong decision? That will affect the project and then the project might fail, and then my team will lose faith in me and productivity will plummet. I’ll get called up in front of the boss and probably lose my job and then word will get around and I’ll never be respected as a leader.

Leadership is a rewarding role, but it’s also stressful. You owe it to yourself, and the people you lead, to get a life outside work.

ROSHAN THIRAN

Roshan is the founder and CEO of the Leaderonomics Group. He believes that everyone can be a leader and make a dent in the universe, in their own special ways.

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Ways to Show Your Worth as a Super Employee BY ROSHAN THIRAN

In the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak, businesses have found themselves struggling to cope and having to downsize as fears over the economy continue to grow. For leaders and employees, 2020 has been a turbulent year with a lot of uncertainty as we try to navigate an unprecedented and complex situation. Over the duration of the MCO, many people have lost their jobs, their livelihoods and even their businesses. And it’s understandable that those who still have their jobs feel a degree of fear over what the future holds. Working remotely presents several benefits for employees and organisations alike. That said, it also removes the opportunity for the kind of interactions and connections that keeps everyone in the loop of what’s going on. Even though people are working hard from home, it can feel uncomfortable to highlight those efforts during online meetings or even in one-to-one conversations with leaders. As a result, your efforts can go needlessly unnoticed. On that note, visibility is crucial during times of economic uncertainty to help show your value and contribution to the

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organisation. Many people feel uncomfortable with ‘blowing their trumpet’, and while self-promoting can be done in a tasteless manner, when it’s done right it’s subtle and effective and shows your worth to the organisation. Whether we like it or not, we all have a personal brand that we sell to others on a daily basis. If we’re passive, the message of our brand gets shaped by others, and then it’s down to luck whether people perceive us in the way we’d hope. Conversely, we have the choice to take charge of how we’re seen (if not completely at least to a considerable degree), and so it’s beneficial to work on how to promote yourself in a way that shows off your authentic best self. This can be done in several ways (it’s not all about talking) and it’s perhaps something that you’re not currently familiar or comfortable with, but taking the time to work on your strengths and learning to shine a light on your own worth in a way that doesn’t overwhelm others can pay dividends in the long run. Whether it helps you progress within your current organisation, or enhances your employability when other companies are looking to hire fresh talent, learning to showcase your value


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these days is just as important – if not more so – than the resume you hand over to prospective employers. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 4 ways that can help you stand out as an employee worth their weight in gold: 1. During work hours, be productive This might sound like an obvious point, but there are many distractions at the office that lead us to waste a lot of our time at work. I’ve received a few messages from people telling me they prefer not to work at home because “I feel less motivated” or “There are a lot more distractions at home”. At a time where businesses are still trying to find their feet as the MCO eases, it’s important to be someone who shows their commitment during work hours, as these are the people who often help to alleviate unexpected problems and challenges that arise. Many people feel they can be more productive at the office, so if you’re someone who feels less motivated working from home, try these tips to help boost your performance as you work remotely. 2. Be a proactive team player When working during a crisis, much of the focus is (rightly) on the employees and helping them maintain their well-being as well as their performance as they adjust to new circumstances. Part of that reality includes leaders and organisations also being in a period of adjustment and it helps leaders enormously when they know people are on top of their work and taking the initiative where possible. If you can, deliver results earlier than expected; if there’s an issue that needs to be resolved, try to resolve it yourself before escalating. If you have an idea that can help the organisation run more efficiently or generate extra revenue, share it with management. These are just a few examples of how you can be proactive and show that you understand the difficulty that everyone’s facing and that you’re willing to help the team get through a rocky period.

3. Help spread optimism There’s nothing better (at any time) than people who lift each other up within an organisation. There are several people at Leaderonomics who are awesome at giving others that needed boost to help them get going if they’re feeling overwhelmed. It also helps strengthen bonds within the team, increasing commitment and engagement. Whether it’s through video call, email or WhatsApp, simple messages can make a huge difference. “Hey Lynn, thank you so much for helping me with that project, your efforts really took it to a new level”; “Daniel, it was awesome that you were able to lead the team meeting last-minute. I know times have been tough lately, but they’re made much easier by having great people like you who step up and deliver.” In times of uncertainty, people – even leaders – appreciate knowing what they do matters, and if you’re someone who spreads optimism when it’s needed most, your presence becomes much more valuable to the organisation. 4. Blow your trumpet It’s understandable that the idea of self-promotion will make some of you cringe. That’s likely because you know a handful of people who do little else but talk about how amazing they are and how much they’ve achieved – you don’t want to be that person. However, there is some utility to updating your boss or manager on what you’ve been doing, especially when working from home because it gives a clear understanding of how you’ve continued to contribute. All it takes is a quick chat or email on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to say, “Hi Steve, just to update you that I’ll be finishing off that project by the end of this week. I’ve also put together the media communication you asked for, and am currently working on the slides for the upcoming webinar. I’ll be sending those to you by Monday for review.” By keeping things factual, clear and succinct, you’re not only making life easier for others, you’re also showing your worth without suffocating your contributions with superfluous selfpraise.

ROSHAN THIRAN

Roshan is the founder and CEO of the Leaderonomics Group. He believes that everyone can be a leader and make a dent in the universe, in their own special ways.

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4 WAYS TO JUGGLE MULTIPLE ROLES WITHOUT BURNING OUT BY ROSHAN THIRAN

As Leaderonomics continues to grow across countries, it’s inevitable that roles themselves cross over, and people develop as they take on fresh challenges and portfolios. Each year as I reflect on the efforts by everyone in the company, I feel blessed to work alongside such passionate and talented people who are able to apply their skills and creativity wherever it’s most needed. The reason why we’re able to continue our growth and expand comes down to the incredible teamwork and willingness of everyone to roll up their sleeves and take on roles that might be less familiar than their usual jobs. While this approach is a great boost for professional development, it can also induce a degree of stress and struggle that, if left unchecked, impairs focus and judgement and leaves people on survival mode, affecting performance and engagement. 8

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If, like Leaderonomics, you’re blessed with a super team of people who keep the company vision in mind (and know how important they are to its manifestation), you’ll have an organisation that’s driven by a can-do culture and continuously striving to exceed expectations. That said, employee well-being is never something to take for granted. So, if your organisation calls on people to take on multiple roles and projects, what can you do to help them adjust and reap the rewards of their experience? Something I often emphasise is the capacity for anyone to become a leader, and leadership these days isn’t about whoever’s running the show. In fact, an effective enterprise will have plenty of people who help the organisation to run: leaders are found within teams as much as they are in management positions.


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As any leader knows, we have to be good across a range of roles, challenges and tasks. We need to be agile and able to think on our feet, juggling several things that come our way on a daily basis. It’s a tough learning curve, but a rewarding one, which is precisely why people who grow across several roles often turn out to be the most effective leaders.

3. Put boundaries around your learning Depending on your workload and other expectations, hopefully it’s possible to spend time adjusting to a new role or project without too much distraction. For example, if you’re learning about a process, leave an auto-response on your email to specify when you’ll be returning messages.

With that in mind, here are some ideas that can help flex those leadership muscles in dealing with task and time management, expectations and uncertainty that comes with stepping into a new role:

In case of urgent messages, you can include a colleague’s email who can help out should anything come through. Limiting distractions will help increase focus and reduce feelings of irritations that can come from being constantly interrupted.

1. Regularly look to the bigger picture Stress often comes when we narrow our focus solely to what’s happening now. It’s important to deal with what’s in front of us, and part of our growth comes from thinking on our feet in the moment. Some people, however, get stuck in firefighting mode, which can leave them feeling overwhelmed, underprepared and inadequate. Returning to the bigger picture – that all challenges push us closer towards leadership confidence and competence – can ease the stress when we remember that it’s all part of the learning process. Whether we’re starting on our leadership journey or 20 years in the saddle, we’re all learning through challenges that we face every day. What gets you through is remembering that it’s always a process of progress, not perfection.

4. Write about your experiences The benefits of keeping a daily journal are well-known, and it can also aid professional development to write down questions you have about your multiple roles upon reflection. These can be posed later to the team or a leader and will deepen your understanding as you piece together insights from your experience. Keeping a daily journal will show where you’ve struggled, but it’ll also show how you’ve grown and what you’ve managed to accomplish, and this will reduce any stress or sense of struggle. Ultimately, it becomes a record of how leadership is like anything worthwhile in life: it has its ups and downs, but if we persevere and keep at it, there’s a lot of meaningful opportunity and growth to be had along the way.

2. Get after that one thing Stepping into a new role, there will be elements that are familiar to you and there will be aspects that initially feel awkward and challenging. The temptation is to work around what we find most difficult, or leave it until late in the day before dealing with it. The best way to get familiar with a tough task is to give all your attention and learn everything there is to know about it. Seek guidance from others, ask questions or request demonstrations. Having an open and curious mindset is the best way to understand something on a higher level. None of us fully understand everything about what we’re doing. The best leaders are the most ardent students.

ROSHAN THIRAN

Roshan is the founder and CEO of the Leaderonomics Group. He believes that everyone can be a leader and make a dent in the universe, in their own special ways.

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7 TIPS TO USING CHAT APPS MORE EFFECTIVELY AT WORK BY CRYSTAL CHA

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As the world continues to practice social distancing measures, workplace chat applications have gained newfound meaning. Tools that for many organisations were previously viewed as ‘nice to have’ are now seen as must-haves as employees work from home. This drastic shift has taken place within months, as “conferencing and collaboration apps accelerated by a magnitude of two years,” according to market research firm IDC. Growth numbers from leading software companies bear witness to this shift. Slack added 9,000 new paid customers between February and March. Microsoft Teams’ daily active users grew by 70 per cent to 75 million in just one month. Google Meet topped 100 million daily Meet meeting participants last month. Meanwhile, Zoom recorded 300 million daily meeting participants at the end of April. (Source: Vox) Virtual communication tools have been the norm for startups and tech firms for years now. Yet for many other companies, in-person meetings and email still ruled the day. That is, until the world went on lockdown. Suddenly, what used to be an informal way of communicating became the new normal. But while messaging apps may make communication faster, that does not equal better or more effective. Just like any other form of good communication, the rules of 1) etiquette and 2) clear communication still apply to workplace chat apps. Having worked in remote, physically distributed teams for the past three years, I’ve learned a few simple tips that have helped me communicate more effectively over chat apps. To get the decisions, feedback or approvals that you need, keep these tips in mind: #1 – Address the person you are messaging and summarise your reason for messaging in the first message. As chat becomes the default, it’s important to keep in mind that the person you are messaging is also likely to be receiving notifications from others besides you. It can be very disruptive to the recipient who receives a message saying “Hi”, followed by a long pause while the sender is typing the rest of the message. The person you are messaging may be on a call or busy with something else. They’ll only have a few seconds to scan your message and decide if it’s worth attending to immediately. Plus, although WhatsApp is not as formal as e-mail, it’s still

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basic courtesy to address the person by name (and title, if required). Don’t: “Hey.” (Few minutes pause) “Just following up from our last meeting.” (Pause) “How’s it going?”

Do: “Hi John, I wanted to check in on the progress of (insert topic) that we spoke about at our last meeting.” #2 – Decide what you want to achieve before typing out your message. Chat messages are not the best format to ramble on or to brainstorm extensively. The ease of shooting off a chat message also means that less context is available. This can lead to miscommunication if messaging apps are not used appropriately. Roman and Raphaelson’s ‘Writing That Works’ provides a helpful guide to decide how much information you need to provide. First, decide what you want the reader to do. Second, list out the most important things the reader needs to understand to take that action. Finally, compose your message. Before you hit send, ask yourself if you would take the action if you were the reader, based on what you’ve typed out. Don’t: “Do you have the stats?” (What the reader might be thinking: What stats?) OR “I really hate to be bugging you for this, but you know how these lastminute meetings always crop up, and I would really appreciate it if I could get some stats from our recent Q1 marketing campaign for my slide deck. I tried asking Jane but she told me you would have it.” (What the reader might be thinking: Which part of this message is most important?)

Do: “Could you send me a summary of the results of our recent Q1 marketing campaign? The board just called a meeting and want to see some reporting on this.” #3 – Used appropriately, emojis and GIFs can build rapport, trust, and increase efficiency. In the absence of face-to-face or verbal communication, emojis can add valuable context to a message. In the past, they were frowned upon as unprofessional and annoying. But in today’s modern workplaces, where empathy is increasingly valued as a critical skill, their use adds a human touch to an otherwise cold channel of communication.


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‘instant’ nature of chat messaging, it’s not always realistic to expect an immediate reply when sending a message. If you need a response within a certain timeframe, be sure to communicate it. Give the other person a reasonable deadline of when they should get back to you. #7 – Don’t forget to say thank you. Often, conversations that take place on messaging apps tend to feel never-ending, with no clear start or end. The next conversation is just another chat message away.

That said, in more traditional industries emojis may still not be workplace-appropriate. In such environments, a good rule of thumb is to let the other person set the tone, if to use (or don’t use) emojis accordingly. This applies especially if the other person prefers a more formal/professional tone of communication. #4 – Don’t break your sentences up. Use paragraphs and bullets. Typing as you think and pressing enter after every phrase may require less effort for you. But for the reader, it’s distracting and hard work to scroll through a barrage of 10 messages at a go.

Despite this, it’s good practice when you’ve gotten the information, feedback, or reply that you need to conclude the conversation. How? Just by sending a simple but polite “Thank you” to show your appreciation. This keeps the conversation from feeling purely transactional. Otherwise, it can come across as if you just ‘disappeared’ after getting what you need from the other person. This simple act of gratitude will likely be remembered and also go a long way the next time you need something from others. What other tips have you found to be helpful when using chat applications for work communication? I’d love to hear them and learn from you too!

If you need to space your thoughts out, paragraph your message, or use bullet points, which many chat apps already support. This helps keep everyone’s chat notifications manageable, as nobody enjoys returning from a 10-minute coffee break to see ‘100+ unread messages’. #5 – Acknowledge when you’ve read a message. Many chat apps now allow the sender of a message to see if you’ve read it. However, it’s still common courtesy to acknowledge when you’ve read a message. If you can’t reply right away, update your availability status. Or, send a brief reply to let the person know when you can get back to him or her in more detail. Extending this courtesy to others means there’s a higher chance others will do the same to you too. #6 – Set realistic expectations about when you would like a response from the person you are chatting with. Flexible working hours also means a blurring of the lines between work and home. In many situations, this leads to people working longer instead of shorter hours. Despite the

CRYSTAL CHA

Crystal is passionate about all things marketing, storytelling, and communications. She has over 10 years of experience in inbound/ outbound marketing, paid/earned media, and offline/online activation, specialising in marketing team/ops management, social media marketing, and copywriting.

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MICROMANAGE IF YOU WANT ZERO

ENGAGEMENT BY ROSHAN THIRAN

“ Do we have 20 years of leadership experience or one year of leadership experience repeated 20 times? “ In leadership, we’re keen to review the performance of employees and make sure they keep learning and growing and stepping outside their comfort zone. That’s all well and good, but we also have a responsibility to shine that light on ourselves and ask: Am I really being the best leader I can be, or am I just being the leader I’ve always been? As the MCO in Malaysia relaxes and business returns to ‘normal’ for the first time since March (when the MCO started), I received a message from a LinkedIn connection about an email they received from their company’s HR manager. The message was thought-provoking, with the gist of the complaint centered around ‘outdated management perspectives that belong to the 1980s’. The email sent to all staff was, and I quote: “…so condescending…as though we had been enjoying a four-month holiday and now it was time to get back to work. I’m sure my situation was like many others: I was actually working longer hours from home, trying to be as productive as possible, while tending to my family and trying to deal with the stress of an unknown situation that we’re all still trying to understand.” Part of the email advised that returning staff “…should use your time at work to catch up on email and other correspondence, as well as ensuring you are up-to-date on all projects and other work matters.” 14

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“And don’t forget to collect my laundry from the dry cleaners.” The connection finished their message by saying that the HR manager “…is the type who believes that, if they can’t see you at work, then they assume that you’re not really doing work. It’s like being in the school classroom.” For any organisation to succeed and thrive, culture is key. Central to any work culture should be respect towards all team members, which includes trusting them to get the job done. As an associate of mine once said, “I don’t care where or how you get the job done – so long as you’re delivering results and I can see the outcomes, I’m too concerned about managing my business to micromanage my people.”


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Of course, the ‘where and how’ of getting the job done can’t as of yet be applied to all industries; that said, the key point here is about providing flexibility where possible, and autonomy to the people you hire. One of the age-old problems of business leadership (and other professions) is that the longer we are in the game, the greater the likelihood of us becoming less competent as time, demands, and attitudes shift. This is why I’m always talking about the need for continuous learning and growth – what worked (or seemed to work) in the 1980s might not be as effective in 2020. That’s a span of 40 years.

As leaders, we have to acknowledge the effect of how we make people feel in the workplace and how that correlates to performance. The old saying that you should leave your feelings at the door when you’re at work is ignorant of the fact that people don’t stop being human just because they’ve entered the office. We all have a desire to be valued, respected and to make a meaningful contribution through our work.

The problem is that if you’ve been in management for 20 or more years, there’s a good chance you’re doing things ‘your way’, rather than the best approach that fits with the time and what current research shows as best practices. Do we have 20 years of leadership experience or one year of leadership experience repeated 20 times? Bosses who micromanage may be significantly hurting their organisations, as noted in a Harvard Business Review article:

…absenteeism caused by disengagement costs a typical 10,000-person company $600,000 a year in salary for days where no work was performed, and that ‘disengagementdriven turnover costs most sizable businesses millions every year’. By contrast, engaged employees are more likely to show up to work, to stay with a firm longer, and to be more productive while they’re on the job. Gallup research cited in the book finds that highly engaged teams average 18% higher productivity and 12% greater profitability than the least engaged teams.

When we lead people in a way that suggests ‘I’m in charge’ and implies that they should be grateful for having a job in the first place, the best you can expect from employees is compliance (aka micromanage) – they’ll do what’s required, but little more. And that’s not because they’re being spiteful

Well, he drank half the cup, but it’s the thought that counts. By dismissing this reality, and by continuing to micromanage, we engage in lazy leadership. When we take a look at effective leaders, from Alexander the Great all the way through to Barack Obama, the best of them intuitively recognised the importance of connection and emotional intelligence. These aren’t new buzzwords – they’ve been demonstrably effective qualities of great leadership for thousands of years. What all of history’s great leaders knew is that they would never be able to succeed without committed, engaged and driven people helping the cause. Fear and compliance might offer some short-term benefit, but in the long-run, leaders who subscribe to ineffective approaches will end up with a mediocre team of people who stay because they can’t go elsewhere. Meanwhile, their best people will find new employers who are happy to recognise their worth and support them in a way that makes their new team members give everything they have to help their new organisation move ahead of the competition.

By dismissing this reality, and by continuing to micromanage, we engage in lazy leadership.

Research studies highlight that when people feel stressed at work, or when they feel like they’re just another number, another dot on the balance sheet, anxiety levels rise in the workplace. When people are tense, they go into survival mode: creativity, innovation, imagination…none of these can function when people feel disengaged and stressed at work.

ROSHAN THIRAN

Roshan is the founder and CEO of the Leaderonomics Group. He believes that everyone can be a leader and make a dent in the universe, in their own special ways.

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How to Prepare For a Phone or Video Interview BY YOU JING NG

Attending job interviews can be nerve-racking and it doesn’t make much difference whether you are attending the interview at an office or a video interview from the comfort of your own home. The silver lining of interviewing from home or remotely via phone or video is that it saves time and resources from traveling. However, preparing for a video interview will take up more time as the technical aspects such as webcam, lighting, Internet connection, and the background of choice are some of the things that candidates need to consider before getting into the interview itself.

Smile!

Smiling indicates that you are confident and enthusiastic but it can also be interpreted as nervousness. The purpose of smiling is to show that you are a person that is pleasant to work with and has good social awareness. Be careful not to overdo it.

Managing physical appearance during a video interview

The rule of thumb on making eye contact is that it should be no less than five seconds at a time. Look away briefly and then reconnect.

Making eye contact during an interview is important especially when talking to the interviewer via video call. Be sure to adjust your monitor and the position of your webcam depending on where you face the screen. To avoid having you looking down or away on-screen, resizing, and shifting the window with the person’s video image is vital. Move up as close to your webcam as possible. This will provide you with the closest view of physical eye contact. You will need to remember the difference between good and bad eye contact. Conducting a video call interview can be slightly awkward at first but rest assured you will get the hang of it. The rule of thumb on making eye contact is that it should be no less than five seconds at a time. Look away briefly and then reconnect.

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This is to avoid it coming across as creepy or viewed as not taking the interview seriously. Remain Calm

When we get nervous, we tend to fidget and make involuntary movements such as shaking our leg, playing with our hair or tapping our fingers. Stay clear of repeating the same words or sentences during the discussion too. To get yourself out of the nervous zone, lots of practice will help you adapt and remain calmer during video interviews. Record yourself by re-enacting the presentation multiple times, then watch and observe how you do. Spot any subtle or distracting movements and learn to tone it down with yet more practice. Adjusting Your Positioning and Posture

Eye Contact

Find the right distance between yourself and the camera to avoid leaning too far forward or reclining too far back.


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Your positioning in a video interview should be similar to a regular face-to-face interview except your lower body is not seen. The norm is to sit upright and keep your back straight while you are facing the camera. Make necessary adjustments to your chair so that you are squarely in the frame. Find the right distance between yourself and the camera to avoid leaning too far forward or reclining too far back. Dress Appropriately

Avoid wearing white clothes as it can look too bright and become a distraction. Wearing an all-black ensemble is also discouraged as it will cause the webcam to overexpose your face.

phone, attach it to a tripod facing you. Holding the device in your hand during the interview is discouraged and can be amateurish. Mute all notifications temporarily to avoid any interruption during the interview session. Lighting During Interview

Regardless of how prim and proper you look, it will all be in vain if you conduct the interview in poorly lit conditions. Essentially, natural lighting is the best choice but indoor lighting can work too. Have the light source facing you to avoid shadows. You can do this by placing your light source – a desk lamp or light stand – next to you or facing you in front of the screen. Webcam Software Options

Most webcams include software to adjust colour, sharpness, white balance and exposure. The tools are pretty handy if the recording quality isn’t that great. Avoid overexposed and oversaturated tones. Stick to natural and soft editing to keep things professional. Microphone

Consider investing in a microphone or a headset with a built-in microphone if sound quality isn’t that good on your webcam or laptop. A proper microphone will filter out unwanted ambient sounds. Be careful not to pick outfits with striking bright colours like reds, yellows, and pinks because the webcam may project your skin in a reddish and unnatural tinge. This depends on the skin tone too, so don’t strike the outfit option off completely. Solid and soft colours will be the safest way to go.

Interview Location (Background)

Technical Set-up

A quick checklist to prepare for a video interview: 1. Tidy up your interview space and have your resume and notebook ready for writing pointers. 2. Check your lighting and background. 3. Ensure the webcam is correctly positioned for proper framing. 4. Conduct a quick test of your webcam to make sure the settings are well adjusted and working perfectly. 5. Do a test run on your microphone and aim for clear audio.

Picking a Webcam Head to the nearest IT store to get a reasonably priced external webcam if you’re not using the built-in camera in your laptop. It’s important for you for have one that gives clear images and resolution. Position your camera angle to be above your eyeline or forehead. It’s recommended to place it on a high angled position or aligned with your eye level for normalcy.

Mobile phones and tablets can also be used because technology has kept up with video recording. Do test out the devices ahead to troubleshoot any potential problems or interruptions that can occur.

Pick a quiet place to carry out the interview and make sure that the background does not have any glaring or distracting objects. A good rule of thumb is to have a plain white wall as the background.

Best of luck with your video interview!

Mobile phones and tablets can also be used because technology has kept up with video recording. Do test out the devices ahead to troubleshoot any potential problems or interruptions that can occur. If you are using your mobile

YOU JING NG

You Jing is a content writer who writes career and lifestyle contents to inspire job seekers and employers alike on their journey to work-life balance, empowerment and transformation in their career path.

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The Concept of Fathering BY JOSHUA HONG

In the context of Malaysia, we are familiar with terms like parenting, mothering. Yes, by definition it simply means the process or journey of raising a child and supporting the development of a child physically, emotionally, socially and even intellectually. However, when one is attending a parenting talk, the reason behind is usually related to a child’s education on how to get my child to perform better academically, or a child’s discipline issues such as ways to deal with my kid’s tantrums, communicate effectively with my teenage child, or the most popular topic recently – is my child addicted to the internet/ gaming, too much screen time especially during the COVID19 pandemic. And previously with the ‘old’ normal, 80 per cent of the attendees of these parenting talks were women and children. It actually almost makes us think that parenting is actually mothering! Or should the biggest misconception on parenting is that this is a mother’s job. Fathering? A rather unfamiliar word to many. What is fathering?

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There was a survey conducted to the public in Singapore 2009 on ‘The Role of a Father’ and the results are as follow: • Breadwinner (46%) • Emotional support for children (36%) • Handling Kids on a daily basis (3%) • Protect, nurture children and know their friends (1%) Well, I guess even a father himself thought that by providing to the family is already a job done as a father. I must say that being a good father is not easy because there is so much more. Dad is destiny! “Dad is destiny. More than virtually any other factor, a biological father’s presence in the family will determine a child’s success & happiness. – U.S. News & World Report, February 27, 1995, pg. 39” According to the review of Australian Evidence of the Impact of Fathering by Dr Stacey Waters and Dr Leanna Lester, some of the findings of this report are: • Father’s self-efficacy and warmth in parenting are the most powerful predictors of children’s improved health, academic, social and emotional outcomes;


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• Children who have a father or father figure who live with them throughout their life have better learning outcomes, general health, emotional wellbeing and fewer problem behaviours; • While mothers have a significant influence on their child’s health, academic, social and emotional outcomes, after accounting for this, fathers have a unique and diverse role in improving outcomes for their child; • A father’s influence on their child’s outcomes becomes most prominent when children reach school age; • Fathers who consistently parent well over time have children who perform better academically, socially, emotionally and enjoy better health and development.

More and more research has shown that effective fathering and a father’s warmth has a unique influence on a child’s health, social, emotional and academic outcomes. As children, when we are celebrating Father’s Day in the month of June, let’s celebrate and appreciate the uniqueness of fathers and their blessings to our families, communities and nations. As a father, this is my encouragement to fathers: There is no perfect father, but we can always be better. Let’s commit to being a better dad today! We believe a committed father will make his family thrive.

Therefore, a father’s impact on a child’s development is simply HUGE! However, research has shown that there is a direct correlation between the absence of fathers in families with juvenile delinquency.

Strong families build a strong community, Strong communities build a strong nation. The key starts with a father who wants to be a better dad.

Father absence affects about 27 million children in America, and it is spreading. It is linked to higher rates of poverty, failure in school, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, violent crime, depression, and ultimately a loss of hope. Be a better Dad!

We go to school for academic purposes. We acquire skills to get a job. We even have marriage counselling courses now to prepare couples entering marriage life. But we never had anything to help us to become a better dad. I am not undermining the role and the contribution of a mother. Mothers and fathers are not interchangeable, nor are they replaceable. Fathers need to be aware that their support and involvement is unique and effective fathering has a profound impact on children’s lives.

Joshua Hong Joshua Hong is the chairman of Better Dads Malaysia, a non-profit organisation that is designed to initiate, lead and coordinate national movement for fathers in Malaysia. During his free time, he enjoys outdoor activities with his children.

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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