Leader’s Digest #55 (September 2021)

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Publication Team Editor-in-Chief Ismail Said Editor Diana Marie Capel Graphic Designers 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.


ISSUE 55 I SEPTEMBER 2021 04 Inclusion And Diversity Starts with Leaders

12 The Behaviours of Emotionally Intelligent Teams

06 The 3Cs of Team Growth

16 4 Activities To Enhance Employee Engagement

08 Leadership Lessons of the Highest Order from Angela Merkel

20 Cross That Line!

10 What To Do When You’ve Made A Poor Hiring Decision

22 More Than Just an Office Buzzword

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

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

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

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From the

Editorial Desk Do YOU feel included? Can you truly include and sustain its integrity ? It is the first day of school and all 8-year old’s are entering their classroom and excitedly organise their place. Round tables with four seats per table is the standard arrangement. A new girl sits quietly and looks at the book on her table rather than at the other kids. She has no pink as a colour in anything she has, more like blues and greens as her main colours in her clothing, her school bag and pencil case. Victoria is autistic – at the low end of the spectrum. The school’s leadership had decided to move with the times, to elevate the school to the global standards, and the policy of active, not rhetoric diversity and inclusivity, was to be the new norm. All teachers and school personnel, including the gardeners, the cleaners, the kitchen staff, were given repeated briefings and adaptation sessions prior to the start of school and all were for it. Especially, because every person had a person experience in their lives that related to that new norm. Some had family members with physical, sensorial and/or mental challenges and limitations and the empathy for such a new school standard was very acceptable, at first! It’s time for the kids to go out and play. Victoria doesn’t play like the others and as much as she is on the playground, she doesn’t know how to play with others. She is happy and comfortable playing by herself. All the other kids invite her to play but do not go the extra mile to get her to play. The teacher also makes an effort to get her to play along with other kids, but the challenge is multi-directional. Victoria hesitates, the kids hesitate and the teacher has never dealt with such a situation.

Organizations have actively introduced basic level one of inclusivity, especially an aggressive move to balance the numbers on board of directors. ‘Malaysia’s Top 100 PLCs have 25.8% women on their board of Directors’ - News Straits Times / March 25, 2021

https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2021/03/676870/ malaysias-top-100-plcs-have-258-cent-women-their-boarddirectors The UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) has two very powerful publications that reflect a possible global excellence goal for organizations: ‘People for 2030 / UNDP People Strategy (2019-2021)’ and ‘Gender Diversity and Inclusion for a Fair Business Environment: An ASEAN narrative’ - here two visuals from it. Table 1: Women’s representation patterns

Figure 2: Seven building blocks for promoting the D&I agenda

Including people from the similar background, similar mindset, similar knowledge, exposure and experience base is easier. The easiness is due mostly because of the implicit bias – the sub-conscious bias – we have. Most of us are encouraged to display stereotypical behaviours and discouraged from acting out non-normative ones. It starts as kids, continuous in our teenage phase and gets more and more cemented as we journey adult life.

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Women in the Workspace Life as we know it, is always inundated with difficult choices. We could be at crossroads - whether to move to greener pastures or stay, start a family now or later, take a career break or not? Many years ago (based on true accounts), Katie (not her real name) decided to take a career break to raise her family. It was something she never thought she would do. As a very KPI driven, successful, motivated employee in her 30’s, that was probably the toughest decision she ever made. The choice to be a stay home mum was made against the backdrop of bosses that didn’t want to let her go. The decision would have been different if there were certain infrastructures in place. It was a decision she never regretted as she raised, watched, witnessed, laughed (cried sometimes), and slogged through days and nights being with her little girls. Nurturing and disciplining them. Imparting knowledge, values, and beliefs. Exemplifying independence through conduct. Mentoring, coaching, counselling the girls and always present to prep for any test or exam. She wore different hats depending on the time of the day or week. As time went by, she picked up many skills. She was a financial planner, party/event organiser, occasional social worker, handyman, baker, chef, seamstress (she would handmake costumes and props for school events), volunteer time as a representative in the neighbourh ood community, and the list goes on. Time came when she decided to go back to full-time work. Katie did everything she could possibly imagine - prepped for interviews, and whatever not but never anticipated how ugly it would be for women returning to the workforce after a career break. To illustrate this - at a particular interview she was called for, she was asked if she could manage her family and work full-time. Argh!!

Stop discounting yourself Post that interview, she began to question herself, her actions, and all previous decisions she made. She started to doubt her capability. She wondered if that was an end to her working life. Even on full days at home, when she accomplished 9 out of 10 to-do items, she would not pat herself on the back. When she had done some documentation work for the neighbourhood and removed them from a stagnant point and received compliments, she shied away and said, “it’s no big deal”. She took her value for granted. But why did she feel that way? Did that interview still haunt her? Were there other women suffering like her? In the same predicament?

At a recent virtual forum, organized by EGN Singapore, a members only professional network (‘hereinafter called Forum”), this habit of self-discounting by women was raised. Why do women downplay compliments? Why did Katie and other women employees deny themselves of praises and underplay their value?

Equality vs Equity Moving on…Katie eventually got back to full time work. Carrying out, executing, and completing all assignments, like her peers. No distinction, no special treatment, because she was an equal to her peers. Equality at a workplace is about giving employees the same tools, same knowledge, same education, the same leadership programmes and opportunities to succeed. This all sounds great! But was it sufficient for an employee like Katie returning to the workforce after a career break? At the Forum, it was suggested that perhaps, the focus should be on equity. Equity is about equipping that employee with what he/she needs in that job to succeed. Suggested ways equity can be implemented at a workplace is through mentoring, coaching (see below for more) or participating in dynamic support groups.

Self-confidence Professional women generally have more obstacles along the way to reach a leadership role/managerial position than men. In addition to this, women have an average of extra seven (7) hours of unpaid extra work weekly at home - whether it is to care for children, for the aged or to run the household. With the additional duties and responsibilities at home, women generally tend to discount/dismiss themselves. Whether it is for a job opening or a promotion possibility. You will hear common responses such as “I can’t do it” or “I don’t meet all the criteria” even though they have the qualification or experience. This was something Katie struggled with too. Compare this with men, who will say “Take me, I can do it”. To support this - a true story was shared at the Forum. At one other seminar, the speaker asked the room filled by women and one (1) gentleman, “Who here is an expert in breastfeeding”. The only man in the room put his hand up and said, “I have seen my wife breastfeed, I am an expert.” Not one woman owned up to be an expert although probably there were many who were breastfeeding or have breastfed before. Astounding isn’t it!

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Collective effort to push for changes Even with a well-educated generation leading us today, change is slow. Why are women penalized for having children and keeping a job? Cultures and systems have to change. Policies initially designed by men for men have to be changed. The awareness through meaningful conversations, employee engagement and education can happen if leaders are open and willing to listen and engage. The rest will follow. Here are some tools your organization can use to implement and manage change.

Employee engagement The same is said to apply when women are being interviewed. Women may not be typically as confident as selling themselves compared to an average man who will be very confident in selling his own skill. Why do women undervalue themselves? Has it got to do with the narratives women hear all the time?

Inclusion and diversity Women at leadership roles are still small in the corporate and business world. This is partly due to the culture and systems - that corporations are designed for men. And why is it that the best person for the job usually means the best man for the job? This narrative must be shattered. Leadership should not be gender specific. Instead, take on who is best for the company. With a mixed group of genders and ethnicities from different cultural background, there is diversity. And there is a positive correlation between diversity and group intelligence and company results. “The current drive to increase the number of women on corporate boards in Europe, even by the means of a quota, is based on two arguments: firstly mixed boards take better decisions, which will lead to better results and, secondly, women on boards will eventually lead to more women in senior management,” says Annet Aris, Adjunct Professor of Strategy at INSEAD.

“For the first argument more and more research is being published which is at least showing a positive correlation between the number of female directors and company results. On the second point, whether women on boards have a positive effect on female management, there is so far very little academic proof.” Is your organisation really taking the best person for the job?

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Engagement and wellness are not mutually exclusive. But how often are leaders in organisations engaging with their employees or compiling feedback (whether through townhall meetings, polls, engagement apps) on the following matters? • Women in leadership roles, women with salary disparity, women with poor promotion possibilities. These issues have their set of challenges. • Policies for returning stay home mums or dads. • Ways to improve and create better working space. • Support system to enable the employees to perform their job effectively. • Flexi hours, remote and hybrid working or job-sharing policies for employees with families. • Ways to ease stress or address mental health. • Housing a childcare for new parent employees who have no support at home. Leaders must recognize the undeniable truth that if they want to retain talent, have higher productivity and better returns, they have to invest in their people. Having structures and processes such as employee engagement platforms are not only good to collect feedback from employees but also help build and solidify bonds between employers and employees. It is imperative that data compiled from such processes have to be analyzed, feedback must be acted upon, and changes have to be made, failing which data will remain just as data. Impactful change can be made if there is concerted effort put in not just by leaders of organisations but community as a whole.

“Goals are only wishes unless you have a plan” - Melinda Gates.



Coaching and mentoring Coaching is a highly effective tool to effect behavioral and attitude change of employees, especially in situations when self-confidence is low or there is habit of self-discounting, an antidote to those returning to work after a career break, like Katie. Coaching is also beneficial to leaders or business owners as it lends different perspectives, provide clarity on strategies, allow for introspection (especially when effecting change to support the employees’ needs) and is an often-employed method to keep leaders on track. Mentoring within an organization is a platform that provides the mentee to get the desired support and

advise, guidance (experienced mentors brings fresh perspective), know-how and harness their talent. A more self-confident employee will make better decisions, achieve their desired goals, take on career opportunities or job promotions and will be more at ease handling challenges facing him/her. Organisations with mentorship programmes in built in their system enhance employee skill and has far reaching impact on employee development. This has a cascading effect and is a win-win for all.

“No country can truly develop if half its population is left behind.” – Justine Greening.


Kiran Tuljaram is an Editor with Leaderonomics. She is a trained lawyer and spent a number of years in banking. Post her role as a Legal Manager at a bank, she founded and ran a couple of businesses, including starting her own fashion accessories label. She is a mum to three teenage girls. Her varied experience in banking, being a mum, an employee, occasional social worker and managing director in her business gives her great insights and perspective into how crucial leadership in organisations are.

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The Seeds For Growth

The 3Cs

Phenomenal teams are characterised by their high levels of trust and their drive to continually exceed expectations. They benchmark themselves on the world’s best. They provide the foundation for sustained success. How do we ensure such levels of team growth in the future? There is a golden rule for team growth that is best represented by P= C3.

Phenomenal teams are purpose-driven. All their actions, strategies, plans, behaviours and conversations serve to drive, amplify, grow or accelerate their purpose. The team’s purpose reflects its team members’ idealistic motivations for doing their work. The team’s purpose articulates the unique gift it brings to the organisation. In phenomenal teams, the purpose is often at the core of why team members are prepared to give that discretionary effort.

Is your team clear on its purpose? Do you and your team agree on where the team is at? The answer to these questions will become your team’s guiding light for real conversations that will go far beyond ‘What is our function?’

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The delivery on this purpose is the multiplier of three elements—the 3Cs of team growth. These are commitment, credibility and conversations (real ones). I must stress that these are multipliers. If your team can get all three working effusively, you will see exponential growth. On the other hand, should one element remain at zero, your team will slow down.



Maximise purpose through commitment Your team must agree upon a set of behaviours for which all members commit to upholding in order to maximise the team’s purpose. What behaviours will be rewarded, recognised and valued? These behaviours should be at the heart of real team conversations. By definition, these behaviours represent the values of your team. Words on a wall are simply a list of nouns. Actual behaviour defines the team’s values and, therefore, the team’s culture. An individual’s level of commitment to team behaviour will help you identify their level of commitment to the team.

Elevate delivery through credibility Credibility relates to the delivery and performance aspects of your team. It also ensures your team is aligned, has influence and is balanced in terms of skill set and diversity of thinking. Some key considerations include: • Does each team member know the agreed behaviours? • Do praise, development, corrective actions and conversations relate to the agreed behaviours? • Does the team have the right specialist skills and experience? • Are team members skilled at understanding the needs of others (internally and externally) as well as their differences and styles?

Accelerate performance through conversations The work your team puts into building commitment and credibility comes to life during real conversations. Make no mistake though, the positive impact of these conversations is determined by the levels of trust within the team. If you attempt real conversations without first building high levels of trust, you run the risk of creating an environment of fear. Real conversations are twofold. You must ask questions that seek to provide understanding and progress to developing solutions rather than dictating what needs to change. Phenomenal teams meet regularly to engage in real conversations that include debate, conflict and agreement on the real issues that impact performance. In phenomenal teams, what you need to talk about takes precedence over what you are happy to talk about. The delivery on purpose is a mirror for the team to identify any mishaps in performance. A mishap in performance reflects directly as a mishap in the delivery on purpose. As a consequence, this type of focus gives the team little opportunity to drift into blame- complain-defend mode—a trait typical of fake teams. When teams are driven by this rule and when they are acting on the 3Cs, they become fast teams. They become flexible, accountable, aspirational and strategic. They become trusted teams.

While these key elements represent the art of building credibility in your team, the science relates to traditional elements of clarity, accountability and delivery. Consider the following: • Are ownerships and accountabilities clear? • Do team members leave meetings with clear action plans? • Do you measure what matters? • Does the team capture feedback and report on KPIs (visible and used) to start real conversations?


Garie Dooley, author of Phenomenal Teams, is a keynote speaker, author, coach and facilitator. He has supported teams globally and within Australia from corporate boardrooms to elite sport teams including AFL premiership winners, Super Rugby champions, Sheffield Shield winners, netball grand finalists and rugby State of Origin winners. He’s obsessed with stretching and growing the ‘brave’, the ‘mavericks in the making’ and the ‘game changers’ to create Phenomenal Teams and Legendary Leaders

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Leadership does not come in shapes, colours, nor gender. When we discuss leadership, we hear an abundance of mencentric narratives. However, in this piece, you will get a taste of how a powerful woman operates and how she maintains her powerful status. Let’s talk about Angela Merkel.

“With great power comes great responsibility” This is more of a fact than being a proverb or one of the commonly used ancient sayings. Leadership is indeed more synonymous with the discharge of duties than a pedestal of privileges. Time and again, the world has produced inspiring and transformational leaders to remind us of this significant reality. One such leader of contemporary times is Angela Merkel, the incumbent Chancellor of Germany.

You will be amazed to know that she is serving her fourth term as the Chancellor of Germany. Having risen to power in 2005, she is Europe’s longest-serving elected female leader. In a world largely driven by patriarchy and male dominance, she has made her presence felt in a redefining way. Goes without saying, a leader with such massive experience has some enchanting leadership lessons to offer. It takes exceptional leadership potential to be at the helm of a nation like Germany for four consecutive terms. For sure, she is a leader with proven mettle and that is what has made people elect her time and again. In this post, we shed light on some incredible and crucial leadership lessons that we can learn from her aura.

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Not to forget, she is fourth on Forbes list of the world’s most powerful leaders and people. She supersedes some of the top leaders of the world and dominates the tally of astounding female leaders. Learning from her aura can hence be extraordinarily rewarding for us. Without much ado, let us delve deeper into the leadership virtues we can grasp from her.

Enchanting leadership lessons to learn from Angela Markel 1. Leadership is gender-neutral

Even the most advanced nations are still battling with stereotypes on gender roles. The perception that men and women have different roles in society is prevalent even today. But Angela Merkel’s inspirational success story of leading Germany confronts such rudimentary notions. Having led Germany to be one of the five largest economies of the world, she has proved that women can be great leaders too. She is acclaimed for her leadership to manage Europe’s debt crisis with great efficiency. She is celebrated for having brought positive changes in the lives of people. She has never let her gender come in the way of her achievements. She is a fine epitome of women empowerment and feminism. She has shown the world that a leader is defined by potential and character and not by gender. So, the next time you doubt a female’s ability to lead, learning from Angela Merkel’s example will be a great idea! Leadership is a way of life and not a gender trait.



2. Resilience

Leaders will seem so hollow without resilience, isn’t it? What makes leaders outshine others is their resilience and their conviction. Angela Merkel’s journey and her persona are brimming with teachings of resilience. She came into politics in the year 1989 and for many years, she remained a responsible and active leader of the opposition. Her resilience paid off and she rose to power in 2005 proving all those wrong who would have argued that she is not fit for the post. Resilient people do not quit and in fact, they inspire grit and strength in others. She is full of resilience like a great leader should be. Hence, she exhibits resilience as one of the most significant leadership qualities. As a leader, when you strive to make a change, many will tell you that you are wasting your time. People will discourage you, try to pull you down, and try to oust you from the competition. In such a scenario, your qualification or your interpersonal skills would not matter much. What will matter the most will be your resilience and perseverance. Keep doing the best that you can and destiny will bow to make way for you!

3. Vision

How can someone win four straight terms unless she does not have a vision? You look at any successful leader of the world, you will find that all of them have visions. They know what they want to achieve and they know the path to it. If they were to get confused in the middle of their journeys and struggle for answers, they would not reach where they are! Angela Markel portrays the true prowess and charm of being a visionary. You may be a great orator or a great socialist but for being a leader you need vision.

It is a well-known fact that arrogant and self-centered leaders are voted out of power soon. Because they keep their own interests over the rights of the citizens, they seldom get a second chance. The world is full of such examples of leaders being ousted. On the other hand, Angela Merkel has been the most important person in Germany since 2005. Her selflessness has given her a competitive edge over all her political rivals. She is a fine endorsement of democratic leadership.

5. Critical Thinking

Angela Merkel is a deep thinker who has a loyal belief in strategic planning. With ardent strategic planning, she has been able to neutralize the geopolitical challenges of Germany. Whether it is about economic policies, the creation of contemporary job opportunities, or strategic foreign policy, she believes in critical thinking and informed choices. She understands the cause and effect relationship of every policy and likes to think deeply about it. She does not draw inferences on intuitions but she relies on information. She has proved that with critical thinking and intellect, problems can be overcome without going to war. She believes in constant dialogues and discussions with allies as well as leaders of nations that Germany has disputes with. She endorses amazing problem-solving skills based on critical thinking abilities. She thinks ahead of her time, prepares well for forecasted challenges, and resolves conflicts with analysis. She has all the traits of a leader’s coaching manual!

She has had a vision, and that vision has led Germany to attain such a powerful position in the world. Today, with a GDP of over 3.8 billion USD, Germany is the fourth on the list of largest global economies. She also has the vision to make Germany play an active role in environmental sustainability. She has devoted a lot of her time to developing renewable sources of energy. She is leading Germany to create abundant green energy for the future. All of this is possible because she is a visionary. Every leader should be a visionary before anything else.

4. Selflessness

Leadership is about service and selflessness however, this virtue is often ignored. People believe that leadership is about enjoying unparalleled power and ruling others. Angela Merkel all her life has vowed to serve the people of Germany with humility and has personified service. From the welfare of her countrymen to infrastructural development, she has always been keen to serve with selflessness. She knows how to win the hearts of people by working for their interests and rights.

Jessica Robinson

Jessica Robinson loves to write interesting and knowledgeable blogs regarding business management, education and life to satiate the curiosity of her lovely readers. Currently, she is serving as a content manager at the ‘Speaking Polymath’. Every piece of content that she writes demonstrates her immense love and passion for her profession.

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What To Do When You’ve Made A Poor Hiring Decision BY AMALIA CHILIANIS

Hiring Decision Matters, Here Is HOW You Can Deal With It It’s a big responsibility and commitment when you’re hiring someone new and a decision is rarely taken lightly. There’s excitement and anticipation about the problems they’ll solve, the extra help they’ll provide or the growth they can help you achieve. As a small business owner optimism, whether it comes naturally or has been learnt, has to be part of how you operate. So when you first see the signs that maybe you have made a poor hiring decision, you hope that it will just take a little time for them to learn the ropes and settle in. However, when one sign becomes many and you’re also getting knowing looks from other team members or feedback from customers, then you have to do something about it. I know first-hand the disappointment that comes from this realisation. It was hard to find a suitable person for the role and you probably like the person or you wouldn’t have hired them in the first place. You reflect on the hiring process to see if there was something different you should have done or something that you missed. Perhaps you knew there were a few shortcomings, but had to compromise because the need for a person to fill the role was greater and more realistic than waiting for the perfect fit (which doesn’t exist by the way).

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To be clear, one sign that you have made a poor decision is not enough. In the hiring process, we’re looking for repeated examples of skills, knowledge and behaviour to confirm they can do the job, similarly in this situation, we’re looking for multiple evidence points that it is not working out. Every new hire (and existing employee) needs to clearly understand their role, have the conditions for motivation and receive constructive feedback. If after you have provided feedback and given them time to rectify and improve, and things are still not working out, then you need to take the unfortunate action of ending their employment. Let me explain that in a little more detail for you.

Role clarity Before you make any decision to potentially end someone’s employment you need to make sure that the person clearly knows and understands what is expected of them in the role. Have someone both explain and show them what is required and how to do the work. It’s helpful to reiterate expectations in a written format, even if it simply outlines the key tasks and expected standards, but sometimes this is not always practical in a fast-paced environment or when you are short on resources and time.




Take action

Role clarity alone is not enough for people to feel motivated. Psychologists have shown that three factors best facilitate and enable motivation; they are autonomy (i.e., having some control over a situation), a sense of belonging and feeling competent (having the skills and knowledge to do the work). Have you tried to make the individual feel part of the team and explained how their role contributes to the greater business and the impact it has? To give you an example a highly motivated hospital cleaner might describe their role as “helping patients heal” because a clean environment is absolutely required for that to happen. You can imagine how much more motivated a person is to do a great job when they understand the impact their contribution has.

A sit back and hope strategy is not usually a successful one. When you have done everything we just outlined and things are still not working out, you have to take action to end the employment ideally within the first two to three months. Most employment contracts set out a probation period where you have time to assess the person’s suitability for the role.

Feedback Every employee needs feedback and especially a new hire that is not working out as you’d hoped. Giving feedback is never easy, and even harder when it is about poor performance and someone not meeting expectations. Schedule a time for a one on one discussion with the employee and prepare constructive feedback. A useful acronym to help you structure your feedback is B.E.E.R (Behaviour, Effect, Expectations and Results). Focus on the behaviour that you have observed and describe it. Explain what effect the behaviour has and why it doesn’t meet the required standards. Clearly outline your expectations of the required behaviour and results and then explore options for improvement. Ask what suggestions they might have to turn things around and what support or help they need. Finally, outline the positive results if changes are successful and also what the consequences are if they are unable to meet the required standards and expectations for the role. Set a timeframe to review progress and improvements. Ok, you caught me out, technically I’ve expanded this acronym to something that should be BEEERCT, however like most I’d rather have a BEER. As you give them time to improve, continue giving them feedback along the way. Acknowledge what they have done right as well as what still needs improving. If you are only finding fault, it will be difficult for them to turn things around.

As the employer you can determine the length of the probation period, however, they are usually between three or six months. This window of probation enables you to end the employment, providing them with the required notice. Do this both verbally and confirm in a written letter. If the employee is with you for 6 months or more, there are additional steps you must take to end their employment, refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Small Business Fair Dismissal code for more information. The probation period also works both ways, so the employee may decide that it is not the right fit for them and leave. Particularly if you are providing feedback consistently and in a timely way, you may find that they make this decision for themselves. Admitting you have made a poor hiring decision is not easy, but doing nothing about it can have significant consequences. If you have already spent too much time agonising over your decision, making one, whatever it may be, will be a huge relief. We all make mistakes, and hopefully, people can improve and turn things around. If not, learn from what went wrong and take action as soon as possible ideally within the probation window. You’ve likely made many more right decisions than wrong ones, and as Henry Ford said “ The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

Amalia Chilianis

Amalia Chilianis, author of Work-a-holistic: A practical guide to changing your career (Publish Central $29.95), is a career and capability development expert. She is a consultant, coach, speaker and facilitator working internationally. Amalia is passionate about helping people develop and change their career to realise a better future

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What happens when companies disregard emotional intelligence (EQ)? Will their environmental foundation oscillate? There are all kinds of merits of emotional intelligence that every company should espouse in their milieu. Do people shed tears in your leadership team meetings? I imagine it’s unusual, or even unheard of, in your team. But should it be like that? In late 2020, I ran a series of workshops where we encouraged leadership teams to open up about their high points, low points and turning points from the pandemic-affected year. In every workshop, someone shed a tear when they shared – or heard – stories of their pandemic trials. These stories included a whole range of emotional challenges, from being separated from partners, to teenage children struggling to cope, to illness.

If you are creating a leadership team that is a real team, not just a committee, you need to build emotional connections and bonds between the members.

That doesn’t mean having people cry all the time, but it does mean you need to create an environment that allows for vulnerability and raises the group’s emotional intelligence.

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Why you need Emotional Intelligence In 2010, five psychologists set out to test the collective intelligence of teams. They subjected teams of three to five people to hours of tests – including brainstorming, making moral judgements, negotiating and critical thinking.

• Dialogue – dialogue is collective thinking where we listen, signal then build on others’ contributions, instead of just waiting to put out ten cents’ worth in. Dialogue contrasts with debate which is where ideas (and sometimes, people) compete for victory.

The results of Anita Williams Woolley and her colleagues, published in the journal Science, are little known, and yet incredibly important to the way we work - which increasingly involves cross functional teams.

Lastly, emotionally intelligent teams do ‘temperature checks’ where they take the emotional temperature of the team. For example, by asking: how is everyone, how is work, how is life, how do you feel about that proposal, how was that meeting for you? I recommend doing this at the start of every meeting, and at the end of your more important meetings, and then at a quarterly ‘pit-stop’ (where you take time ‘off the racetrack’ for a half-day) to connect with each other as humans as well as review the strategy and projects under the leadership team’s control.

They discovered that teams do have a collective intelligence that is not just based on their individual members’ intelligence. They called this ‘Factor C’. And their research found that the two biggest predictors of a specific team’s intelligence - that is its ability to solve problems, to be smarter than the sum of its parts – were the members’ social sensitivity, and the group’s conversational turn-taking. Social sensitivity is an aspect of Emotional Intelligence. In lab settings, it is measured by the ability to estimate how someone is feeling just by seeing a picture of their eyes. The ability in this lab-based test predicts the ability of a group to solve problems. Conversational turn-taking is more straightforward – in theory. When one or two loud people dominate, the group performs worse on tests of their thinking.

In summary

Often leadership teams are teams in name only. They may in fact be more like a committee, or even ‘just a meeting I go to once a month’. Building a real team with supportive relationships - and putting a spotlight on emotional intelligence - will not only make work more engaging for you and your team, but it will also help you solve your toughest challenges and do your best thinking.

The behaviours of emotionally intelligent teams In my book, I share three approaches to building EQ in senior teams which build on the research on collective intelligence. First, senior teams should lay the emotional foundations of a real team by answering three questions together: why, what and how. • Why do we exist as a leadership team – what value do we create and for whom? • Therefore, what should we be focused on, what are our priorities, what should we talk about in meetings? • And therefore, how often should we meet, what different types of meeting do we need to have, and how should we behave? • Second, emotionally intelligent teams have behavioural standards, or norms, which create a supportive environment. These norms can be related to your organisation’s values, tailored to how they should be expressed in the leadership team. They can also be based on my research which suggests three basic norms. • Listening – I like to call this ‘making people feel heard’ • Signalling your respect, trust and liking of other people – particularly important for the leader to think about how you react to people’s contributions

Rob Pyne

Rob Pyne, author of Unlock: Leveraging the Hidden Intelligence in Your Leadership Team is a leadership coach and facilitator who helps teams unlock their collective intelligence and become smarter than the sum of their parts.

Issue 55 I September 2021



4 Activities To Enhance Employee Engagement BY ADMIN

“Employee engagement is the art and science of engaging people in authentic and recognised connections to strategy, roles, performance, organisation, community, relationship, customers, development, energy and happiness to leverage, sustain and transform work into results.” - David Zinger Business culture is easily dismissed and labelled a ‘buzzword’ by many corporations. But culture has a real impact on employee morale and business outcomes. In fact, employees with a good work-life balance are 21% more dedicated and productive than those with less work-life balance. So how can you incorporate more activities into your business that can boost employee morale, and thereby potentially increase productivity? CEO of the online platform Machines4U that lists buy or hire of machinery, Steve Krebs, says some solutions require some out-of-the-box thinking.

“As the business owner, all change starts with you. You need to identify what is important to you to grow within your business and give your employees room to participate in activities that allow for that growth; personal or professional.”

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Here are four activities you can introduce to your office to enhance employee engagement. 1. Book Club Introducing a book club to your business can be beneficial for a few reasons: it can help foster better relationships with colleagues, cultivate emotional intelligence, and help improve communication skills. It has been found that reading, in general, makes you a better person, so it makes sense that bringing books into the workplace helps employees not only participate in a group activity but also help develop their skills within their own roles. For example, Hug Your Haters by Jay Baer provides a unique perspective (backed by research) on customers who “care enough” to complain, giving employees a new positive take on those otherwise uncomfortable conversations.

Help Employee Development By introducing a book club into your business, you can provide a culture of continuous opportunity and growth. Good business culture goes beyond a good environment; it’s cultivated by your people and the opportunities you provide. And a good culture will help attract the right people into your organisation. Consider a book club done during business hours as a free way to invest in your employees and draw upon the experiences of thought leaders in (and outside of) your industry.

Enhance Team Bonding How often does your team come together to openly discuss ideas and their own experiences? Book club gives your team the opportunity to read the same material yet come away with different ideas that impact them in different ways. The encouragement of sharing their beliefs and experiences in a safe environment means they will learn a lot more from each other that they may have never learned otherwise. This understanding builds more empathy and cultivates a stronger team dynamic.

Innovation And New Ideas In Roles Reading non-fiction books, especially those by industry experts and thought leaders, allows employees to make connections from the book to their roles, and how they can implement changes to optimise efficiency, productivity, and/or their overall results. For example, books such as The Secrets to Closing the Sale by Zig Ziglar provide fundamental communication methods, strategies and perspectives that can be utilised across a variety of roles, benefiting employees business-wide

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2. Regular Team Catch Ups This may seem counterintuitive, as we’ve all been to meetings that could have (and should have) been an email, but when executed correctly, regular meetings can be very powerful for your business.

Provide Transparency And Build Trust When it comes to different departments, and even different roles, it’s hard for employees to know what their counterparts are responsible for within the business. By keeping in regular contact with your team/s you can help everyone understand the scope of work each team is focusing on. Not only that, but by providing a time for employees to share their accomplishments with the rest of the business, you can foster a good company culture that celebrates all wins big and small. Having that transparency in the business helps to build trust and makes employees feel they are working for a company with higher ethical standards. This then results in more engaged employees who are more committed to the overall business goals and direction of the business. Transparency is also essential to allow room for innovation within your teams. When employees feel included and understand the business direction, they are more likely to be better performers and feel part of something bigger than themselves.

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Encourage Teamwork And Solve Problems More regular meetings, either company-wide or team-specific, gives everyone a chance to discuss any roadblocks they are facing and offers opportunities for collaboration from other team members. For instance, the sales team might be facing issues getting their prospects to open their emails; the marketing team could provide solutions in the form of automated email marketing, persuasive email templates, a unique prospect-driven campaign, or other creative ideas. Regular meetings help bring these issues to light and allow for more cross-team collaboration on solutions.

Humanise Leadership Teams When done right, daily meetings help employees feel more included within the company and their team. Company-wide meetings are a great way to give the CEO a chance to update their team with important information and upcoming changes. Not only this, but attending meetings also helps employees feel more comfortable with their CEO and opens the floor to feedback from employees.



3. Early Knock-Off Team Socials

4. Workplace Health & Well-being

Incorporating team social time into the work week, such as early knock-off on Fridays, is a great way to foster solid team relationships, and incentivise employees for a hard week’s work, while simultaneously building a great culture and strengthening employee retention.

With work taking up much of our daily time and routine, there is an opportunity to help employees get their much-needed exercise during work hours. Activities such as ‘run club’, ‘walking meetings’ or ‘morning yoga’ could go a long way to helping your employees stay physically fit, which has benefits for your business.

Assists With Problem Solving While you’d think the last thing on your mind at a team social is work, this relaxation time with colleagues creates a great environment for creative problemsolving. While employees unwind, they will likely discuss the roadblocks they have faced that week and interact with colleagues outside of their team who may provide some creative solutions to their issue.

Promotes Team Trust And Respect Giving your teams the flexibility to relax during company time helps them feel like they can be themselves and provides the opportunity to mingle with other people in the business that they may not really get a chance to speak with otherwise. Building these external team relationships creates a more collaborative environment and smoother experience for everyone at work.

Healthier People Take Less Sick Leave Those who are healthy are less likely to take time off, which helps minimise absenteeism in your business. Healthy people are also more likely to feel more productive and motivated while at work, which produces more effective employees!

Team Activities Build Rapport Getting out into the fresh air together is a great way to strengthen team bonds. It’s also a great way to help teammates relax and solve problems together. We’ve all been stuck in a rut, unable to complete a frustrating task, and what better way to reset and rezone than to get out in the fresh air and boost your mood. Try implementing a team activity and see how your employees come back to their desks refreshed and ready to hit the ground running again! Overall, incorporating some small, yet effective, team activities into your business is a simple way to invest in your people and business culture. And you might just find that your employees feel healthier, more relaxed and trust in your business even more, thus, creating a more productive and engaged workforce.

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Cross That Line! BY BERNARD LEE

Processes To Get You To That Finish Line July 1997, Sydney, Australia. Together with thousands in the arena, I listened attentively, ferociously writing every word that was spoken. On the platform was John Maxwell in person. I’d read his books, but this was my first time hearing him speak live. I made an important decision that day - to become a leader. 25 years later, I am still learning to become a leader.

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“Events and conferences don’t make you a leader. Today (at this conference), it is important that you make a decision to become a leader. The hard work comes after this. That is the process of becoming a leader. Don’t get the two confused. One gets you started (the decision) and the other brings you over the finishing line (the process)” - John Maxwell (paraphrased). We make decisions all the time - from daily mundane things to more significant long-term matters. Reading this article is already a decision! The decisions we make have consequences and impact on us. Leaders are making decisions today that will impact the lives of people and their organisations in the future.



Decision making is intentional. It is purposeful. If you

have clarity of purpose, values and vision, decision making is with conviction and certainty. The reverse is also true. Kodak, once a global icon in film photography, is now a distant memory. The “Kodak moment” meant something worth savouring and remembering. Despite inventing the first prototype digital camera in 1975, Kodak failed to capitalise and invest into it. Had Kodak been intentional in pursuing their tagline “share memories, share life” it may have prevented the company filing for bankruptcy protection in 2012 and missing on a massive disruptive potential.

Decision making is taking ownership and responsibility. When you have ownership, you will (more)

naturally be responsible. Think of a child who wanted a pet so badly. They are more inclined to be responsible to care for the pet. Think of an employee who took ownership for a project in your organisation. He / she is more likely to spend the extra hours making sure everything is running according to plan.

Decision making is putting a stake in the ground.

Drawing a line in the sand. It is making a conscious choice and a stand. BP is recognised as a leader in the oil and gas industry when it comes to environmental, sustainability and governance (ESG) initiatives. Its sustainability framework focuses on getting to net zero by 2050, improving lives of people, and caring for the planet. They have boldly listed 20 aims to help them achieve this objective. Being in a high risk industry, BP continues to demonstrate commitment in managing these risks as reflected in their strong (positive) rating by Sustainalytics. Decision making gets us to the starting line. To cross the finish line (fulfilling the decisions that were made), we need to focus on the process. Process can be described as the (tiny) little steps that we take toward the decision. Often, this arduous journey is filled with obstacles and challenges. Unlike the 110-meter hurdle race, these barriers don’t end after the 10th hurdle.

Process requires perseverance. It requires grit and determination. Having a growth mindset will help us see the light of day. I am amazed seeing how the athletes performed at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Every athlete will have their own journey and story. Regardless who won medals, to see them competing at the games encapsulates the meaning of perseverance, grit and determination. Process requires us to be focused and stay focused.

During a cataract eye surgery, your vision will be momentarily blurred and all you see are particles floating around. After the old lense has been removed, the ophthalmologist inserts the artificial lense. At that very moment, your sight is restored immediately. Everything around you is HD (high-definition) quality. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about! Focus is like that. When you lose focus, everything is blurry and everything you see are like particles floating around. They don’t make sense. The result is stress. But when you are focused, it’s like an artificial lense that is inserted. You will have absolute clarity. Focus is probably the toughest part of the process. The decision I made in 1997 (to become a leader) has been (and still is) tried and tested. Sometimes I come out victorious, other times I succumb to the distractions and attractions around me. I take comfort to know that failure is after all a speed bump and not a deadend. “It’s better to go slow in the right direction than to go fast in the wrong direction. Our actions must continue to add value to us and the people around us” - Simon Sinek. My virtual health instructor reminds me constantly - remember, quality reps over quantity. What decisions have you made (or will you need to make)? Whatever your decisions are, remember to focus on the process. One gets you to the starting line, the other will bring you over the finish line. Cross that line!

Process requires hard work. Hard work that requires

the discipline to keep working at it. The difference between intention and action, is discipline. We all have good intentions but good intentions aren’t just good enough. It needs to be translated into consistent and coherent actions. My friend who runs a drug rehabilitation centre, explains how discipline plays a critical role in the success of the programme. While it may appear regimented to the outsider, the daily routines and strict adherence to scheduled activities provide a foundation to rebuild healthy habits.


Bernard is the Founder of Invigorate Consulting, a firm seeking to connect people and organisations to their purpose. He has over 20 years of management consulting and corporate experience with global organisations. He is also a seasoned facilitator. He enjoys travelling and is excited about the second half of life.

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We often use terms like valued and respected in the definition of inclusion. What does it look like when one is valued? Respected? Are the behaviours consistent across cultures? Perhaps most of us instinctively know

Question: To what extent do you agree that an inclusive society will affect the following areas?

what it feels like to be included or excluded and it is often in the small day-to-day gestures that feel included or excluded. In a 2013 HBR article, “How Diversity Can Drive Innovation,” Sylvia Ann Hewlett et al contend that there are six measures of inclusion including:

1. Ensuring that everyone is heard;



think it promotes different ways of thinking

think it create an open learning culture has a positive effect on creativity



think it has a positive effect on productivity

think it creates a more motivated workforce



think it has as economic benefit

do not think that an inclusive society provides any noticeable benefits

2. Making it safe to propose novel ideas; 3. Giving team members decision-making authority; 4. Giving credit for success; 5. Giving actionable feedback; and 6. Implementing feedback from the team

Secondly as explained by Ellen Taaffe, an assistant professor of leadership and director of women’s leadership programs at the Kellogg School. “Inclusion is about welcoming, developing, and advancing a diverse mix of individuals. It’s about making all people feel valued, including changing practices that might unfairly benefit any one group, and making sure that everyone feels they have the same opportunity to advance and make an impact. Creating that environment is where

Number crunch: Emerald Publishing Group 2021

the real challenge lies.”


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

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“A valuable combination in emerging markets is tying leadership development to real on-the-job projects that have organizational impact and improve learning.” Ismail Said CEO Leadership Institute of Sarawak Civil Service

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



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