Leader's Digest #42 (August 2020)

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

Read this issue and past issues online at leadinstitute.com.my/leaders-digest Scan the QR code for quicker access: * Read our online version to access the hyperlinks to other reference articles made by the author.















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

Decoding Influence Our body structure, including our bones, muscles, joints and tendons influence our physical disposition. It gives possibilities and limitations to our posture, how we walk, run, jump, even write. Not just movement but also strength and stamina are influenced by these.

acting and reacting. Objective approaches have a dual value: they lead to trust by both subjective and objective ‘influencees’. In other words, even a stranger with an objective approach can override a subjective influence by somebody we know.

Our organs: the heart, the lungs, the kidney, the liver, etc. influence the elements of our body structure by producing energy and absorbing and managing stresses. Yet these, get influenced by bio-chemical processes within our brain, our state of mind. They can either bring all of our abilities to a halt or boost them beyond our normal standards.

Internal catalysts – of both the subjective and objective types – is about our mindset. Those of us guided by tradition, conformity, taboos and strict-programmed mental frameworks, will maintain a self-directed internal influence that can have dictatorial strength against logic, even when clear signs of the supremacy of nature exist. These people can remain adamant to maintain their position even when the strike of lightning is imminent. Some call it extreme arrogance, others call it surrealistic egoism.

It’s complicated and enlightening. Whilst influence is the process, we must put emphasis on the source (‘influencer’) and the recipient (‘influencee’) as they each hold both dispositions at the same time. Yes, the ‘influencer’ is also and ‘influencee’: one side receives the signal that forces to act beyond one’s standard way of doing and our other side sends out a signal to instigate a direction in another person, hopefully solely to their benefit. If this concept were to be adapted into a strategic influence planning framework (actually it is an active and critical aspect of stakeholder strategy), we must start defining the dimensions of subjective and objective influence; internal vs. external catalysts. Subjective influence is driven by psycho-emotional elements within inter-personal relationships. Putting it in clear terms: the person who makes one happy, secure and boosts one’s ego has high subjective influencing power. Yet such subjective tactics require also a willing, needing receiver – emotional vulnerability depending on the receiver’s level with the Maslow hierarchy of needs. Objective influence is that of logical, measurable, material evidence - credibility that even void of emotions drive a person to change their internal, naturallydetermined path of feeling, thinking, communicating,

External catalysts, depending on the level and robustness of our emotional, intellectual and experiential maturity, may influence us accordingly. Manipulation is also defined as the action of influencing or controlling someone or something to one’s advantage often without anyone knowing it. This gives us a clear defensive mechanism to test if we are being influencedmanipulated by asking the question: “Do I realise what is driving me to do what I am going to do, or does it just feel too fluid?” Now imagine that your business card read Corporate Strategic Influencer. Would you feel proud of it? Would you instill trust in others? Especially, if the other person could have a mental interpretation of Corporate Strategic Manipulator?! Let’s just keep the designation of Corporate Strategic Adviser with a clear duty of care to decipher the difference against those who constantly enhance their encryption.

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Uncover Your Most Profitable Zone of Influence What is an area that can help me stand out from the crowd, that can position me as the obvious choice among competitors?

A little while ago on my social media feed, there was a rising tide of questions on one specific topic. No, it wasn’t about how to battle COVID-19, which KFC outlet has the shortest queue for their RM20 for 2 snack plates, or where to travel with the all-new Unlimited Flight pass by AirAsia (Although in hindsight, it’s amazing how positive Malaysians can be in the face of a global pandemic)No, the question was: “If I were to write a book, what topic would it be on?” I decided to give the question some thought. How does one pick a topic that can showcase their expertise and project their influence, and make sure it is riding world trends?

Your Zone of Influence

So while the question is on book topics, the real question 4

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behind the question is, “What is My Zone of Influence?” What is an area that can help me stand out from the crowd, that can position me as the obvious choice among competitors? What’s something that I have a strong leverage on, a pull factor instead of a push factor? What’s something that is trending in my industry right now, that when combined with my natural assets, will give me a competitive edge? As you can see, it’s not just about picking a topic of your book, because that’s too small an issue. The worst thing you want is to have what you thought was the ‘right topic’, and when the book is out, realise it doesn’t sell by itself, nor does it sell you, the author.



Alright, then let’s start with the first circle: Authority.

A book, aside from the knowledge it holds, is a marketing tool. It must promote an idea, and most importantly, it must promote you. As you can see, it has now become a branding question. I promise you once you’ve identified your Zone of Influence, you will have more clarity on the other offerings you will be able to create for your market. But if you ask me, identifying your Zone of Influence is not enough, because chances are, there is more than one zone for you.


Question: What are you known for? Now, that’s an overly simplistic question that just defines a portion of Authority, but let’s just roll with it for a while here. I’ll do a deeper dive into the true meaning of Authority in a separate article, so please remind me if I don’t.

The key is to pinpoint the Most Profitable Zone of Influence, the one area that can give you the most leverage. And of course, as the best things in life are best shown through visuals, I’ve decided to draw a Venn diagram. And for an added challenge, I’ve got a question for each circle to help you gain clarity. Ready to uncover your Most Profitable Zone of Influence? Get a blank sheet of paper and let’s work on this together. Editor’s note: If you say so, Maverick. Anyways, if you were to throw this question out on Facebook or Instagram, what answers do you think you’d get? I can offer a few guesses: • •

Expertise – things you are good at doing, your skills, for example Experience – things you have done, something that triggers that twinkle in your eyes whenever you relive the memories Issue 42 I August 2020 5



Passion – things you just can’t stop talking about, the very thing that keeps you up and ready in the morning, and enables you to sleep a meaningful sleep at night

Believe it or not, others will gravitate towards you as well. You have a natural pull towards different market segments, but the key here is, which one is most profitable?

Oh, and don’t let me stop you from actually asking the question on your social media question by giving you those guesses. I’m not a marketing crystal ball, and neither is that self-proclaimed ‘guru’ on your Facebook feed.

If you were to list down the different groups that you have connections in, you would realise not all of them can be your clients.

Feedback is always valuable to refine your Authority. Write down as many items you can from your own assessments and also the answers of others (I cannot stress how important this is). Don’t leave anything out. Even if it doesn’t seem like a topic you would want to champion, just put it down. We’re still brainstorming here, and we still have TWO other circles to help identify the overlapping area, remember?

For example, if you are a sales trainer, your weekly fishing group may not be as profitable as a market segment, when compared to your HR community. If we were in a class, I’d use the SAM Score worksheet to give you more clarity on your Most Profitable Markets.

Speaking of which, on to the next circle: Audience.

Essentially, it’s just about listing down the different market segments or groups of connection, and rank them based on these three criteria: •


Question: Who are your Most Profitable Markets? You tend to be attracted to certain groups and communities, maybe due to similar interests, vision, or the personality of the members.

“For example, if you are a sales trainer, your weekly fishing group may not be as profitable as a market segment, when compared to your HR community.”


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Spending Power: Do they have the financial means to buy what you offer? 5 would go to those who has it and also the decision power, and 1 would be to those on the other end of the spectrum. Accessibility: How easy is it for you to tap into this group? Do you have a direct connection, which in this case would be a 5, or will you need to hunt them one by one, which will make them a 1 or 2 at best. Market Size: How big is this market segment? If the Total Addressable Market is huge, almost endless, put in a 5. If it’s very small, and only a handful, put in a 1.



And now we come to our final circle: Analytics

And guess what? For the books you’re about to write, you can even know how many competitors are out there with similar topics and themes, and best of all, how well they’re actually doing! This data is priceless because before you dedicate a few months (some say years) of your life into a project, and a couple of thousands to get coached on the process and to produce the books, I think a smart thing to do is to first validate the book idea.


Question: What are the profitable trends now? In days past, if you had a movie script and wanted a production studio to back you, you’d have to make an appointment with all of them, pitch to them, and probably wait for them to think it through. Which may take forever! It’s not their fault. It’s only natural that they’d want to do sample testing and market research, before they put in the millions. Now, if you were to go to Netflix or Amazon, they might shorten the waiting time. Because by tapping into the vast database of customers and data points that they have, they might even be able to predict the number of people who will watch your film – even before it’s produced! That’s the power of data, and in this day and age, you must leverage it to ensure your book topics or service offerings are in demand.

Think about the big mistakes you’ve made in the past, and how much it has cost you in terms of money and time. Looking back, would you invest a fraction of it to make sure you can avoid them?


Ah, don’t you just love it when three circles overlap to reveal the magical truth? Ok, it’s probably just me. Yes, as you’ve probably figured it out, the cross-section of the three circles is your Most Profitable Zone of Influence.

For example, use Google Keyword Planner tool to identify the volume of searches for your topics. You can even look at related search terms to help you refine your topics further.

Your book topic, your service offerings, your branding position, it should all come from this zone. That way, you will be able to continuously create products and services that elevate your brand, and allows you to dominate your niche.

You can also use tools like BuzzSumo to look for trending content. Look for those that are widely shared, have lots of engagement, and garner loads of views.

And if you want to be ‘time-efficient’ (aka lazy) and ask if you can get away with just two, well, let’s take a look at that.

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If you have Authority and Audience but not Analytics, you would have picked an area you are known for that appeals to your most profitable markets, but it could be out of trend soon (if not already). Sure, you can milk it while it lasts, but do you seriously want to be at the tail end of the wave, when you can be surfing from the front? If you have Authority and Analytics but not Audience, you have picked a good, trending topic that positions you well, but you will have to spend money on marketing to reach your target market. Sure, you can still make it work, but would you want to do it with difficulty and take up loads of your time and money? Or would you want to get an easy start, gain the momentum and gather the initial funds you need to launch a marketing campaign of a bigger scale?

So yeah, sticking to that overlapping area, that Most Profitable Zone of Influence, is probably the best for you right now.


Well, for those of you who want to write a book, go fill up those individual circles and start writing! For those who see this guide as a way to position yourself beyond books, take this as a branding exercise so you can speak from a position of influence, create more impact and become a true inspiration. Not only will you be able to say ‘No’ to activities that will not contribute to building your Zone of Influence, you will also gain clarity on your next steps.

If you have Audience and Analytics, but not Authority, you have picked a topic that draws a natural market, but it may be in an area you’re not good at. Sure, you can gain some popularity, but would you rather have them buy your books, read your articles and just stop there? Or would you prefer to upsell and ‘upserve” them with your other offerings, opening more doors to the right opportunities?

“Not only will you be able to say ‘No’ to activities that will not contribute to building your Zone of Influence, you will also gain clarity on your next steps.”


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Maverick Foo Maverick Foo is the marketing strategist and co-founder at Authority Institute. Together with his team, he helps business owners discover ‘new profits’ by tapping into over two decades of business experience across 90+ startups in 13 industries, and monetise hidden assets using a variety of frameworks and marketing technologies.




For many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes

― Vilfredo Pareto, source of the Pareto principle.


In this write-up, you will learn about (or perhaps relearn) the Pareto principle, its roots, and the lens through which we can apply the principle for productivity in everything we do, be it learning, leading, managing, and/or teaching. Throughout our lives, we pore over books and browse websites for the simplest possible solutions to problems, and aim to improve our skills and productivity. We are repeatedly, and unknowingly, stumbling upon the Pareto principle. This is a principle most applicable to our daily lives. Never heard of it? It is quite simple, really.


80% of productivity in any given organisation comes from 20% of the workforce in that company

Look at your emails, and you will discover that 80% of what matters from those messages come from only 20% of them. This principle covers everything we do. It is about the most efficient groove we have. The 20% that gives us 80% of what we need.

THE PEAS AND THE PODS The Pareto principle was named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist who saw the imbalance in land ownership in Italy at the time. Twenty per cent of the population owned 80% of the Bel Paese land. Funny that he first gauged this after realising that 80% of the healthy peas from his garden came from 20% of the pods. These incidents would go on to inspire this principle. It is an age-old idea that yields timeless benefits. Issue 42 I August 2020 9



FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS The inverse is also true (and alarming). Consider this: 80% of productivity in any given organisation comes from 20% of the workforce in that company. Yes, only 20%. Some may argue for a 90/10 or 70/30 split, but we’re splitting hairs at this point. The concept is the same. A very few are producing most, and most are producing very little. Not a very balanced relationship, I must say.

If nothing much comes out of being busy with one particular task, spend less time doing it. If what you see as outputs are merely a structure or a collection of actions that do not create meaningful change or are less impactful to your organisation or learning – spend less time on them.

PARETOING FOR EDUCATORS As we are caught between a rock and a hard place with the acceptance of pandemic pedagogy and instant changes to the education ecosystem, we are faced with a cacophony of voices, all preaching methods, tools, coping mechanisms, online learning capacity, online instructional strategies, lack of connectivity and more. This is when we must embrace the fact that not everything we do is equally important or impactful. We need to make about 20% of the actions that deliver the most return. What are the less important yet necessary tasks? Once we have identified these, we will be able to focus on the most valuable ones.

Now that we have established this understanding, how do we then improve numbers? Imagine if 30% or 50% of the population produced more. What if we supported and rewarded the 20% more so that they performed even better for their organisation? How about getting the 80 per cent to behave like the 20?

NOT EVERY ‘I’M BUSY’ IS CREATED EQUAL Many times we hear people saying they’re busy without actually looking at the output of that busy-ness. Being busy does not equal being productive and managing time well is a step towards being more productive. Next time you think you are busy, take a look at just how you spend time ‘being busy’.

Once you have learned to sift through the salient 20% from the less essential 80%, you are on your way to positively applying the Pareto principle in your life.

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Editor’s note: So I just need to read one? Sweet! Imagine if we focused on the 20% that matters in all that we did. Which of our daily tasks have the most value and the most impact? Is it the automaticity of document signings that we do daily or the scheduling that we do each week? Should all topics be presented online or should we choose the most important to be presented and discussed online, while the other 80% are distributed in tasks and experiential assignments? There has to be a decision on that 20% in whatever that we do.



PARETOING FOR STUDENTS AND LEARNERS For students preparing for examinations, take note of the most important 20% from the content of a course. There’s no way the exam will cover everything, and any good teacher or lecturer will tell you which topics often come up. Being focused and strategic is being smart here. Once you have learned to sift through the salient 20% from the less essential 80%, you are on your way to positively applying the Pareto principle in your life. As an educator, I would suggest that you revisit the rest of the course materials in your own time to have a holistic understanding of the course theory and practice. I reiterate here, that the worthy 20% is subjective and dependent on context. Therefore, it is upon us to decide the most valuable 20% of what we learn.

PARETOING IN DECISION MAKING Even in deciding where and how funds should be channeled, leaders need to bear in mind the most pertinent 20% that deserve the most funding and the other 80% which might benefit from later or less funding.

If we instead created a conduit for strategic thinking for the 20% quality output, we could potentially have more employees who are confident, fulfilled and accomplished – suggestive of a positive trend in leadership and learning productivity. This capacity to identify the most valuable and impactful tasks or activities versus just what we need to finish makes a difference in productivity, leadership, and time management. In learning a new language, for example, within just 20% of the language lies the most important parts used for communication, and therefore should be the focus. If we focused on mastering 100% of a language before we even start using it, we would be the most inefficient learner in the history of second language learning.

THE PARETO PRINCIPLE AS A WAY OF LIFE Always apply the Pareto principle to what you do. If you apply a Pareto analysis on your friendships, thoughts, teaching, learning, and/or leadership, you might quickly realise that 80% of your joy and fulfilment come from just 20% of the people you know.

If we focused on mastering 100% of a language before we even start using it, we would be the most inefficient learner in the history of second language learning.

In management, there is also a need to learn to manage members of your organisation through the lens of Pareto knowledge. Many are good at completing tasks provided without much quality to enhance and improve the organisation strategically. Tell them to do it, and they do it, but nothing more. This almost robotic state of mind is always on for taskcompletion among staff in general without sufficient focus on the most productive 20% output. I’ve observed time and time again that this is almost always the missing link in all my years of being a leader and educator.

Or maybe even all of your joy and fulfillment. Equipped with this knowledge, you can decide how much time to spend on each one of them. Some do not deserve a lot of your time – in fact, some deserve none of it. Reduce the amount of time spent thinking about things that do not bring joy, comfort nor productivity to you. Look for those healthy pods from your garden. Dr. Adelina Asmawi

Associate Professor Dr. Adelina Asmawi is a barefoot leader at the University of Malaya. A Melbourne University alumna, her expertise is in professional development, TESOL and instructional technology. She is a marathoner, a karaoke champ, a book author and Founder of award winning PEARL™ project.

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LEADERSHIP 52: What the years have taught me If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my career spanning 20 years and including everything from engineering to software development to manufacturing automation, it’s this: It’s never about the tools that I use, nor the hard skills that I have. There are two reasons for this: 1. As you move up the corporate ladder, others carry out the actual execution, and the skillsets required of you are to manage that execution. 2. The technology keeps changing faster than you will be able to adapt to it. This is why I was heartened to see the Future of Jobs report that highlighted the skills of the future. Published by the World Economic Forum, the report lists the following as among the top 10 most valuable skills in times to come: • Critical & Creative Thinking • People Management & Coordination • Emotional Intelligence • Problem Solving & Decision Making • Service Orientation, Negotiation and • Cognitive Flexibility. I would like to take the liberty to call this leadership.

It’s not just about telling people what to do We are accustomed to defining (or perhaps limiting?) leadership as behavior that is attributed to good 12

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If you would like to get ahead and address the most important gap in the workforce, then Leadership 52 was built for you.

people managers. It is almost like you climb a ladder from individual contributor to manager to leader. We at Leaderonomics take a broader view of leadership. It starts with our Science of Building Leaders (SOBL), where we outline the different aspects of development that a leader must go through; from Agency, to having a Secure Base and Crucible Moments, to many more critical experiences. For more on this, read here. We then looked at working professionals and how we could help them develop their leadership competencies. Looking at a typical progression, it is clear that leadership starts with managing yourself and your tasks, and later develops into managing your relationships with others. This is followed by managing teams and projects and making decisions. Though the scope of these skills grow as your career progresses, the fundamentals of leadership remain the same.

How Leadership 52 came to be Through our exploration of these fundamentals, we developed our Leadership 52 competency pathways, known as L52. Through the L52 competencies, you are assured to develop every aspect of being a leader today (regardless of your role). Why 52? There are fifty-two topics that we believe every leader should master, and in a specific sequence. The goal was to identify a holistic leadership development plan. This turned out to be 52




topics, conveniently aligning to the number of weeks in a year (and I suppose we weren’t very creative when thinking of a name).

you from the present to the future. Through L52, we enable everyone to understand the steps needed to build these skills in a bite-sized and sequential manner. If you would like to get ahead and address the most important gap in the workforce, then Leadership 52 was built for you. We are now using it as an expert guide to deliver our core services. Most desired behavior changes can be traced back to L52, enabling us to diagnose the most urgent development gaps that need to be addressed.

“A lot of people prepare for the future by scrambling to learn what is ‘popular’ today. Historically, this has never worked out well.” Then again, what’s wrong with calling a spade a spade?

Your journey starts with the Foundations where we cover Self Awareness, EQ and Decision Making. This is followed by Emergence where we cover Communication, Working with Others and Teams. Finally, it’s Executional Leadership, where we cover how leaders build Alignment, Culture, Structures/ Processes and Business Models. For those who are familiar, this final Executional phase helps leaders deliver on the promise of the Science of Transforming Organisations. You can read more on that here. Our leadership content can be clearly mapped to the skills outlined in the Future of Jobs. However, I daresay it’s even more holistic. As technology rapidly surrounds us and the world keeps evolving, we are confident it’s leadership that will be the transferable skill that bridges

We have also started using L52 to guide our content creation. We are creating a 52-week pathway that will help learners upskill themselves in a holistic manner. By making one pathway available each week on our online learning platform necole, we are micro-skilling learners on leadership over a full year. Completing these pathways will allow you to master skills that will help with employability and career progression. In the coming months and years, we are looking to build an equivalent of the L52 for Functional Competencies.

Connecting the present and the future As excited as I am about the future of work, I can imagine that it is daunting to many. To embrace the future

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requires an agility, a resilience and a positivity that is perhaps not as common as you would expect. But the future is happening and is leaving with or without you on board.

Stage 1: Foundational Leadership

Stage 2: Emerging Leadership Editor’s note: Sorry, couldn’t resist putting this here.

A lot of people prepare for the future by scrambling to learn what is ‘popular’ today. Historically, this has never worked out well. Just ask those who scrambled to learn IT, rushed to buy cryptocurrency, or flocked to Oil & Gas, all at their peaks. You can try to time the market and take a risk. But what is new today won’t be what’s new tomorrow. We will never know what skills will be relevant 5 years from now. Ask those who studied Fortran, then C, then C#, then Python, and who still continuously chase the next programming language year after year. We only know one thing for sure: the world will change. In fact, even as we speak, it is changing faster than ever. Organisational design itself is evolving with the gig workforce coming into play. Through all this disruption, there are only two constants: that change is inevitable, and that leadership skills will always be valued. If you don’t believe us, just ask the World Economic Forum.

Stage 3: Executional Leadership

“Through L52, we enable everyone to understand the steps needed to build these skills in a bite-sized and sequential manner.” Hence the need to clearly define Leadership 52. We wanted to make it easy for anyone to understand what encompasses the often nebulous competency called Leadership. We break it down for you so that you can understand it. Hopefully, this helps you in your selfdevelopment journey. More of a visual learner? Here are some graphs that show how we’ve mapped out L52: 14

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Sashe Kanapathi Sashe is certain that his 18-year career in IT was about leadership and not technology. He is currently the head of Leaderonomics Digital and ponders the use of technology in his free time.



How to Navigate Difficult Conversations BY KAREN GATELY

Research consistently paints a bleak picture when it comes to the willingness and ability of people to engage in difficult conversations in the workplace. One study found 66 per cent of people feel stressed when they know a difficult conversation is coming. Another report suggests 70 per cent of us avoid conversations we perceive to be difficult. Many of the HR professionals I work with struggle just as much as anyone else in managing the stress and anxiety they feel when faced with tough conversations that inevitably arise. Typically, at the heart of the issue is a very human desire to avoid situations that make ourselves, or other people feel emotionally uncomfortable.

Optimising your impact in an HR or leadership role requires you to engage in honest and courageous conversations that enable people to understand, accept and take ownership for shifting their reality. Often, for example, it’s necessary to guide people to not only build greater self-awareness, but also develop the character traits and master the behaviours needed to allow them to be a more successful member of the team. Avoiding or ‘tip-toeing’ around the issue, or expressing frustration and being aggressive don’t help.

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Successfully navigating difficult conversations starts with understanding more about yourself. Identify the types of conversations you typically find difficult and why. Common examples include conversations with people who hold strongly opposing views, or those that are likely to be emotionally charged or lead to conflict. When the stakes are high most people struggle to keep their emotions entirely in check.


If you decide the conversation is a difficult one – it will be. It really is that simple. Reframing the conversation is a powerful way of shifting your mindset to one that is more optimistic and helpful. Focus on the value of the conversation and how it will ultimately help create desirable outcomes. For example, rather than thinking that you are punishing someone for how they have behaved, choose to see it as working to save them from themselves. In other words, having a tough but respectful conversation with this person, is part of your effort to support them to shift their approach before an avoidable decision to terminate their employment is reached.


When preparing for the conversation, ask yourself “how can I be entirely honest and respectful at the same time?” Spend some time reflecting on the nature of the other person and how their character or circumstances may influence their approach to the conversation. Be prepared to tailor your own style to optimise the likelihood of the other person being receptive to healthy dialogue.


Among the most powerful choices you can make is to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Often emotionally charged responses reflect our unconscious desire to flee from or fight our way out of uncomfortable situations. Observe how the adrenaline effect is affecting your mind and body and accept it as natural.


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Breathe. It’s common for people to hold their breath when in stressful situations which undermines our capacity to think and respond effectively. The box breathing technique is just one of the many recommended ways of focusing on your breath and regaining a sense of emotional control. Breathe to a count of four, hold for four, exhale for four and hold again for another count of four. Slow down and take the time that is needed to work through the issues. Keep the conversation on track but also avoid the all too common mistake of rushing through so everyone can escape the discomfort they feel.


Healthy dialogue is more likely to be maintained when both parties choose to listen to understand. As author Stephen Covey famously said:

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply

Honest and tough conversations are necessary if we’re serious about getting the best from people at work. Contemplate for a moment how often do you see issues go unresolved or worsen because the leaders involved simply didn’t have the courage to have that necessary chat and then live to regret that decision to let things slide so a difficult conversation could be avoided?

Stay in the conversation with an open mind, courage and vulnerability. When opinions clash and emotions run high don’t look for ways to win, punish or keep the peace. At the end of the day, keep in mind that you only have the power to control what you bring to the conversation. Other people will respond in ways that reflect their own perceptions of reality and emotions associated with that. The best you can do is adopt an approach that is both honest and respectful. Karen Gately Karen Gately, the founder of Corporate Dojo, is a leadership and peoplemanagement specialist. Karen works with leaders and HR teams to drive business results through the talent and energy of people. She is the author of The People Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical Guide to getting the best from people (Wiley) and the host of Ticker TV’s Black Belt Leader.



The Temptation of Corruption in Times of Crisis We need the protection of the law now more than ever with the COVID-19 crisis amplifying opportunities for corruption.

Times of crisis bring out the best and worst in us


The COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented crisis to the world’s economic landscape and undoubtedly a shock to most (if not all) businesses. While the immediate focus of many corporations may understandably be on sustaining the business, the unique and intense commercial pressures from the coronavirus outbreak have also increased the threat of bribery and corruption within and towards businesses. It is crucial that businesses recognise and mitigate corruption risks in order to protect themselves from exposure to criminal liability as well as leakages due to corruption.

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As businesses navigate the ongoing crisis, corporate leaders are considering business continuity plan to react, recover and reshape their business. Corruption should be recognised as a threat to the sustainability of any business. Any short-term gains obtained through bribery will have longer-term consequences for businesses. Keeping corruption out of your business should be part of the business continuity plan.

Increased corruption risks during COVID-19 & mitigating steps Below are some of the increased corruption risks we have identified during COVID-19 crisis along with proposed mitigating steps for businesses to consider.

1. Ventures into new businesses, products and markets

Some organisations were quick to adapt by venturing into new businesses, production lines or markets amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Along with these new businesses and markets come new risks of corruption and bribery. A proper corruption risk assessment on the new business, production line or market should be carried out to help businesses understand the possible corruption threats and risks as well as take the appropriate steps to tackle them.

2. Engagement with new suppliers or agents

Lockdowns, border closures and disruptions to supply chains may result in companies having their supply sources halted. Businesses may therefore seek alternative sources or services from new suppliers or agents in order to continue their business. Suppliers who state they can ‘get things done when others cannot’ should be seen as a major red flag, as such promises may entail breaches of bribery laws where others would not. Some companies may be tempted to turn a blind eye to what can only be illegal practices – as long as they don’t have to personally get their hands dirty. The fact is that if you’re part of a corrupt supply chain, there’s blood on your hands as well. Risks-based due diligence should be conducted before partnering with new suppliers or agents. A proper screening procedure of third parties should never be dismissed regardless of urgency or limited choice available.


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3. Charitable Donations

It is heartening that during this crucial time, businesses are joining the fight and playing their role by making charitable donations. However, companies making monetary donations should ensure corruption concerns have been considered. There are far too many people in this world who seize every opportunity to exploit the kindness of others.

“There are far too many people in this world who seize every opportunity to exploit the kindness of others.” Some mitigating measures include ensuring donations are made only to legitimate recipients and that such donations will not directly or indirectly benefit a public official or his or her family member. It should go without saying that only official bank accounts should ever be used for donations.

4. Employee non-compliance

As the top management navigates unprecedented economic and operational pressures, it can be easy to overlook the importance of regulatory compliance. A timely reminder from the top on compliance with anti-corruption policy despite business pressures has never been more important. Regular communication with employees and refresher training sessions on anti-corruption topics may also act as a reminder of the company’s anti-corruption policy. With no vaccines for COVID-19 being found as of yet, the work from home culture will be the new norm for many. These new working arrangements may pose a challenge to how much control companies have over the actions of their employees, specifically with regards to compliance with legal and ethical codes of conduct. This crisis period though disruptive can serve as an opportunity to reflect on how to strengthen your compliance program and adapt to future disruptions.

5. Restructuring, Mergers and Acquisitions

Given the increased likelihood of businesses faced with insolvency, there can be expected to be more merger and acquisition opportunities on the market. Generally, when a company merges with or acquires another company, the successor company assumes the predecessor company’s



criminal liabilities. Successor criminal liability may apply to corruption liability as well.

with the COVID-19 crisis amplifying opportunities for corruption.

Despite business pressures to move expediently and in a cost-effective manner, companies looking to acquire should ensure that they conduct proper risk-based corruption due diligence on target companies in order avoid potential successor’s liability.

Furthermore, many anti-graft regulators worldwide have made it clear that enforcement will continue in the current climate. Malaysia’s anti-graft regulator should not be an exception in taking a step back from enforcement in light of the crisis.

Section 17A of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act: date of enforcement and implication for companies In 2018, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 was amended to inter alia introduce the new Section 17A.

Survival at any cost? As of the publication of this article, the Malaysian government has succeeded in ‘flattening the curve’ of COVID-19 infections in Malaysia. COVID-19 should not be taken as an excuse now to leave Malaysia ‘behind the curve’ in tackling corporate corruption. With Malaysia now moving towards rebuilding our economy, we need to band together once again to make sure corruption has no place in our COVID-19 recovery plan.

Briefly, Section 17A imposes strict liability on commercial organisations for failing to prevent associated persons from committing corruption in obtaining or retaining business or in the conduct of business. For more information on Section 17A, you may refer to our previous article here. June 1 2020 marks the anticipated date by which Section 17A comes into force. However, there was initially some concern as to whether Section 17A would come into force in June 2020 as scheduled. One month before the aforementioned date, it was reported that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission was studying a proposal to suspend the enforcement date of Section 17A.

“Section 17A imposes strict liability on commercial organisations for failing to prevent associated persons from committing corruption in obtaining or retaining business or in the conduct of business.” This proposal appears to have been initiated due to companies ‘experiencing a business slump, following the proliferation of COVID-19’ and ‘being unprepared for the appropriate anti-corruption plan’. Nevertheless, the government eventually maintained its original stance and announced that Section 17A would come into force on June 1 2020 as planned. This is a step in the right direction. Businesses are more susceptible to corruption risks due to financial stress. We need the protection of the law now more than ever

Or else! Nicole Leong Nicole Leong is a practicing attorney and partner at Tay and Partners, a Malaysian law firm specialising in corporate law and services. Nicole is experienced in corporate and commercial transactions and counsels local and international clients from various industries on their business strategies. She is also a regular speaker at seminars on legal compliance topics. Andros Lim Andros Lim is an attorney and associate at Tay and Partners. He practices in the corporate department of the firm and is involved in numerous corporate work and transactions. This includes advising clients on corruption-related issues such as compliance and obligations under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009. Andros also engages in drafting anti-corruption policies and conducts training on anti-corruption as well as strict corporate liability.

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The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World Analysed BY THE PORCH TEAM

It’s a woman’s world, folks

From political superpowers to tech titans, Forbes’ 2017 ranking of the “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” runs the gamut of everyone from Oprah Winfrey and Ivanka Trump to Angela Merkel and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg. Ranging in age from 92 (Queen Elizabeth II) to 28 (Taylor Swift), it’s clear no two women are the same. There’s no one quality that’s helped these women climb to the absolute peak of power in their industries, it’s worth asking – what qualities do they share that’s helped set them apart? To find out, we used IBM’s Watson Personality Insights API to examine speeches, interviews, and even social media commentary to decipher the more intrinsic elements of their personalities. With only a few exceptions, every woman on Forbes’ list has been analysed here. Read on for a more intimate look at these leading ladies.

Powerful women have powerful personalities According to IBM’s Watson Personality Insights model, there are five core characteristics (appropriately named the ‘Big Five’) that help define how a person engages with the world. These include agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, emotional range, and openness and are made up of personality facets that help individualize each person’s values and actions. Across Forbes’ list of the 100 most powerful women in the world, openness was the most common personality trait. Described by IBM as ‘the extent to which a person 20

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is open to experiencing different activities’, openness includes a person’s imagination, artistic interests, and overall intellectual curiosity. Across all 100 women, two were particularly inclined toward this trait: Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor-in-chief at The Economist, and Kathleen Kennedy, the president of Lucasfilm at Disney. Ranking at No. 72, Beddoes has been credited with helping The Economist evolve its 174-year-old brand by adopting a larger social media presence in recent years that has helped grow the publication’s reader base by 20 percent. Emotional range and conscientiousness were also among the most prevailing Big Five traits, personified most clearly by women like Safra Catz (co-CEO of Oracle) and Nikki Haley (Indian-American ambassador to the United Nations). And while agreeableness wasn’t the most prominent Big Five trait, Beyoncé, Anna Wintour, and Oprah Winfrey are still using compassion and cooperation to their advantage.

Fascinating facets Of course, there’s more to what makes these women special than the ‘Big Five’. Other facets of their personalities have helped them stand out in, and in some ways disrupt, the industries they lead. Intellect, liberalism, sympathy, cautiousness, and activity level were among the most widely held traits by women like Hillary Clinton, Drew Gilpin Faust (president at Harvard), and Mary Callahan Erdoes (CEO at JPMorgan). Anger, excitement-seeking, and immoderation were among the least common personality traits.



Faces of personality facets

One thing is clear – there’s no single set of personality traits that helped propel these powerful women to their positions.

Among the most common personality traits identified by IBM’s Watson Personality Insights API, five appeared more often than others: • Intellect: As a part of openness, intellect describes a person’s curiosity and ability to think in symbols and abstractions rather than more linear modes of thought. • Cautiousness: Continued from the conscientious trait, cautiousness is defined as the ability to think through things carefully before acting. • Sympathy: As an extension of a person’s agreeableness, sympathy refers to the feeling of compassion toward others.

Liberalism: As another trait of openness, liberalism is described as a readiness to challenge authority and convention. Activity level: As an extension of extraversion, activity level describes the attitude of people who lead fast-paced, busy lives and approach their daily activities with a heightened sense of energy and quickness.

While many of the women on the list exhibited one or more of these traits, others embodied them more fully. Kathleen Kennedy – largely attributed as a driving force behind the vast changes to the ‘Star Wars’ franchise under Disney – had the second-highest level of liberalism, proceeded only by Zanny Minton Beddoes. Hillary Clinton and J.K. Rowling, author of the “Harry Potter” series, displayed the most sympathy toward others. Like Judy Faulkner (founder and CEO of Epic Issue 42 I August 2020 21



Systems) and Patricia Harris (CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropies), Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had one of the highest levels of cautiousness according to Watson’s analysis.

Industrious individuals For decades, Silicon Valley has favored men in positions of power and influence. Research shows that even in the same positions, men are offered higher salaries than women in 63 percent of the cases. These discrepancies in pay can range from 4 percent to 45 percent regardless of the role. Still, the number of women in high-ranking tech positions continues to grow, and certain personality traits may have helped contribute to their success. Intellect, liberalism, and activity level were all common traits found in Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Susan Wojcicki (YouTube), Ginni Rometty (IBM), and Meg Whitman (formerly of eBay and HP).


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Women’s day-to-day responsibilities may be different, but the skills required to make it into politics might not be so different from tech. Sympathy, intellect, and liberalism topped the list among women in politics including Germany’s Angela Merkel and the U.K.’s Theresa May. The same is true for media and entertainment where Oprah Winfrey, Anna Wintour, and Bonnie Hammer top the list of the most powerful women in the world.

Peering at personalities For the 100 most powerful women in the world, here’s a comprehensive look at their personality traits. In her fourth term as chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel has spent years in power downplaying the importance of gender in both her success and status. Instead, her toughness and sensibility have helped define her image over time. Her personality – rich with openness, altruism, and cautiousness – has helped her earn the title of the ‘most powerful woman in the world’ according to Forbes’ assessment.



Like Angela Merkel, extraversion and agreeableness were often the least displayed Big Five personality traits, although some women, including Abigail Johnson (CEO of Fidelity Investments), Safra Catz (co-CEO of Oracle), and Adena Friedman (president and CEO of Nasdaq), may be using extraversion – seeking stimulation in the company of others – to their advantage.

From Oprah Winfrey to Theresa May, one can find overlaps in characteristics even if they execute them differently. Overwhelmingly, each of these women proves that even in male-dominated industries, breaking away from the norm can pay off.

A cut above the rest From the politically savvy to tech giants and entertainment superstars, the path to power for the top 100 women on Forbes’ list is unique. While what has helped them get to where they are today varies from person to person, the personality traits they sometimes share aren’t.

The Porch Team

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