Leader's Digest #57 (November 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 57 I NOVEMBER 2021 04 Leadership Collective

12 6 Ways To Optimise Your Operational Processes

08 Is Your Risk Management In Conflict With Your Values?

14 “Impressive” Won’t Win The Market. Try “Authentic”

10 Why Hybrid Working Is The New Privilege

16 Workplace Communication Strategies

11 On Trust

18 Leadership DNA: What gets you out of bed every morning…

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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.

2 Issue 52 I June 2021


… and one public service DNA analogy ?!

From the

Editorial Desk Discoveries in DNA: a time line worth valuing Scientific and technological advances in the last 50 years have led to extraordinary progress in the field of genetics, with the sequencing of the human genome as both a high point and starting point for more breakthroughs to come. For many non-scientists, a recap may be in order. In the 1960s, you probably learned about DNA as the genetic material and the structure of the DNA double helix. You may also have learned about the genetic code, by which the sequences of DNA encode amino acids. In the 1970s, you probably also learned about cloning and the potential for recombinant DNA technology to provide gene therapy, create novel drugs and improve agriculture. In the 1980s, you may have learned about the clinical use of recombinant human insulin for diabetes treatment. In the 1990s, you probably learned about the molecular basis for human genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis (1989), Huntingtons (1993), Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy (1987), and a rapidly growing list of single-gene disorders. In the ‘00s, you probably heard about the completion of the human genome sequence. You may also have learned that this achievement heralded the arrival of the age of personalized medicine. The big breakthrough in decoding the human genome was the invention of technology to obtain large amounts of DNA sequence to establish the core strategies for obtaining continuous sequence information for DNA chains. Although it isn’t biology, it must be acknowledged that the human genome sequencing project also required parallel advances in computer speed and storage to acquire, store and manipulate billions of nucleotides of DNA sequence. The invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology transformed molecular genetics. This had immediate application for DNA diagnostics and what is now a COVID 19 testing mechanism.

Political and social advances in the last 50 years have led to extraordinary progress in the field of the civil servants’ role, with the sequencing of the pro-society ‘genome’ as both a high point and starting point for more breakthroughs to come. For many non-civil servants, a recap may be in order. In the 1960s, you probably learned about public service as one of the most distinguished and honorable jobs with altruism as the genetic material and basic structure of the public service ‘DNA helix’. In the 1970s, you probably also learned about the consideration of foreign policies as they influenced local structuring of defining and designing the social infrastructure, to create novel services. In the 1980s, you may have learned about the technology use for a more comprehensive overview with KPIs as the measurement tool. In the 1990s, you probably learned about the deeper political basis and the stronger impact of the corporate standards as the basis for realigning the traditional civil service mentality including new terminologies such as B2G, digitalization, leadership imperatives, and integrity committees. In the 2000s, you probably heard about a focus on investigations for procedural and financial irregularities, internal power struggles of the civil services’ ‘genome sequence’, heralding the introduction of intense sophisticated recruitment, training and development programs. The big breakthrough in the civil service genome was the introduction of corporate expertise to amalgamate the activities of ‘best in class’ companies with core values and objectives of those in the service to the public. Although it is not a corporatization in its totality, it must be acknowledged that the public service ‘global excellence sequencing’ has been revolutionised by the parallel acceptance of the latest in processes and tools as the point of reference for accelerated improvements, especially the ‘dare-to-care’ characteristic. The acceptance of ‘speaking your mind and heart’ by civil service leaders as an underlying factor towards better inclusion and diversity has become the fresh approach to re-humanising the purpose of the public service. With the 2030 milestone for our Sarawak DNA, the recruitment, development and continuous coaching strategies for mental flexibility vis-à-vis VUCA situations needs to remain a focus. Keeping the core public service DNA structure (as it was 50 years ago) amidst an avalanche of external forces is the most critical factor for true and sustainable value for the well-being of Sarawakians!

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4 Issue 57 I November 2021



• Visionary Leader: Provides the purpose of existence of the

Leadership Styles Motivator, hero, inspiration, visionary, guide, manager, supervisor are some of the common answers received when asked who is a leader to a sample of 150 respondents. When a subset of the same sample of respondents were asked to give two responses each for the same question, the combination of answers stood like Coach and Motivator, Hero and Manager, Visionary and Supervisor, Inspiration and Teacher, although the two traits mentioned need not necessarily be displayed by the same person or by two people performing the same roles. Among the myriad of definitions of leadership available, one that stands out to be simple and more generic states,

business, larger picture, inspires the team to follow his/her vision, shows destination but not necessarily provide the direction. • Director: Provides the direction to travel in, clearly defined milestones and time frames to reach the milestones. • Coach: Helps the team members become ‘better them’, doesn’t train them technically or on job, but helps in selfdiscovery and to achieve results. • Transformational Leader: Realigns the business’ process, mindset and positioning to adapt and evolve to the current needs of the ecosystem. • Transactional Leader: Does his role with an ‘operational efficiency’ mindset and drives/motivates the team to excel

“(Leadership is) the capability and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.” – General Montgomery.

in their operations with not much attention to any other element • Delegator: Divides and assigns the work in such a manner that the right job reaches the right person that not only ensures the best business results but also empowers the team to become leaders in their domain.

Various styles of leadership emerge every now and then. There is always a current leadership buzzword in the leadership arena. The recent ones are like servant leadership, organic culture, horizontal organization, and more. Sometimes the focus on a single term is so much that it appears as if that single term or trait is the definition of leadership or a particular behavior alone is leadership. This article is an attempt at exploring various styles of leadership, if some style of leadership is really out-of-date and if there is one leadership style that is the need of the hour.

• Autocratic Leader: Rules rule. A stickler to rules expects and ensures no rule is ignored however small or big in the process of attaining business results. • Bureaucratic Leader: Heavily process and hierarchyoriented leader whose communication with the team is always through the ‘proper channel’. • Servant Leader: Creates the environment for others to perform, creates a free organization more of a facilitator. In the era of extraordinary person branding, we tend to identify an organization by the personality and the leadership style of the most popular person or the founder of the organization. This idea gives the impression that all activities of the business

Leadership Traits and Styles There are multiple components that are attributed to leadership





personality, foresight, ambition, commitment and team spirit to name a few. Depending on the need a particular trait or behavior gets exhibited in greater magnitude as compared to the other traits and the leadership style gets identified by that particular trait. These traits define the role the leader plays. Leadership literature is aplenty with various styles of leadership. Gathering from multiple research papers the following nine styles come out as the most common ones.

gets guided by that style of leadership. In order to test the hypothesis, two organisations at the extreme ends of the spectrum – one guided only by rules and other the completely rule-less autonomous are studied. A sample of 50 general public were asked to choose the most autocratic and most liberal organization from the examples like theatrical production, school, hospital, law firm, airlines and policing. Policing was chosen to be the most autocratic and theatrical production to be the most creative organisations. Let us study the leadership styles employed here.

Issue 57 I November 2021




The Police Force

To achieve the same, we do need a transactional leader

The police force is considered to be a typical autocratic

and a pace setting director. A bureaucrat is required to run

organization where absolute obedience from the foot soldiers,

the business as per the laws of the governing boards or

the constabulary, to the orders from the higher echelons is

government agencies, so a production doesn’t get stalled

expected. When the commanding officer orders ‘fire’, the foot

for the need to meet requirements. On the day of production

soldiers are not expected to become creative about the firing

there needs to be a single voice of command, an autocrat, who

process or expect servant leadership where they are provided

is obeyed, so that the workflow happens unobstructed.

with an environment that creates the best firing experience. Instead they will have to point at the target and pull the trigger.

This simple study of understanding leadership styles in

As a matter of fact, every cop was believed to be displaying

running the two diametrically opposite organisations reveal

complete obedience to the orders from the levels above in the

multiple leadership styles working in tandem at organisations


that seem to be the total opposite of each other.

In reality, is it just this the single activity of policing? The answer is an astounding ‘no’. When it comes to dealing with

Heathcare Provider

the judicial system and paperwork, policing activities are

On the other hand, in an institution like a hospital or a

bureaucratic, with the multitude of responsibilities the police

healthcare provider, which everyone from the sample have

leaders are expected to delegate the right responsibility to

interacted - they have witnessed varying styles of leadership.

the right officer. Structuring of the police force and making

A doctor who has worked in a multi-specialty hospital awes

them future ready requires a visionary or transformational

at the vision of the chairman that created the institution, a

leader. A coach helps cops identify their true strengths and

person whose most stand-out experience in a hospital took

move to domains where they can be the ‘better them’. Above

place in the emergency room considers it’s transactional

all, it requires a servant leader to make the police force more

leadership that determines the success of the institution.

approachable and easier to work with for the public and a

A nurse returning from her duty in the operation theatre

healthy institution for the cops, so the workload doesn’t bog

doesn’t think she did anything beyond obeying the surgeon’s

them down.

command. But certain styles of leadership like the bureaucratic style, transformational leadership and coaching style of leadership go unnoticed by the general public. There are

Theatrical Production

different styles of leadership employed at different levels and

Theatrical productions are considered to be very creative

different departments as per the need. A keen observation in

businesses and what meets the eye is the liberty with which

a healthcare provider revealed the following leadership styles

the work is carried out, limitlessness in imagination and the

in action in various departments.

so called ‘touch of magic’ which is very rare in real life. The outcome looks like a painting and is completely right brainoriented stuff. This hides the endless left-brained activities and the corresponding leadership styles that work behind the scenes. As the unique aspect of the business is the creativity, it appears as though the leadership styles employed here would be like visionary, coach and servant leadership. Such a business of creativity (like any other business) will cease to exist if it is not run profitably. That would require immaculate planning, execution and utilization of resources.

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Operation Theatre


Department Head

The Board/Committees

• Always work in unison • One command to be obeyed by all • Surgeon alone to give orders

• Foresee a major breakthrough • Inspire to seek and follow the path • At times forego early benefits

• Help identify need and means to improve • Support through growth • Let owning up growth

• Improving way of conducting business • Motivate and inspire teams to adapt • Coach to adapt

Autocratic Leadership



Collective Leadership

Research/New Divisions Team

Chairman’s Office

• Highly Motivated • Result oriented, Skilled • Needs just the condusive environment

Hospital with its various drivers of every day routine

Servant Leadership

• Highly Motivated • Result oriented, Skilled • Needs just the condusive environment Transformational Leadership

Medical Divisional Heads

Diagnostic Center

Legal Team

Emergency Units

• Capable individuals • Independent responsibilities • Need: Lesser Interdependence

• Clear focus points • Well defined and established timeline • Results more important than human relations

• Rules and Regulations • Attention to detail • Work flow focused

• Performance and nothing else • Stick to established algorithm • Improve Speed of operations

Delegatory Leadership



Transactional Leadership

If one type of leadership fails, the entire institution of

Managers, business leaders and people leaders need not ape

healthcare and wellness will collapse. So, like each division,

the leadership style of the icons. It is important to introspect

each style of leadership is equally crucial as the other

and understand oneself. Knowing our own strengths and

for sustenance, let alone the success of the business or

shortcomings gives a more realistic and feasible direction to

organisation. Based on the three examples of police force,

pursue. This knowledge is of vital importance to choose the

theatrical production house and healthcare provider that are

career path that suits us best and where our strengths and

very different inherently, we can safely believe that there is no

skills are most needed.

leadership style that is out-of-date. The style that is called for to act is purely dependent on the situation.

Your Leadership Style Jeff Bezos could be a visionary leader to conquer space and

It is wise to choose the shoe that fits our foot and not cut the foot to fit into the shoe we pick.

reverse aging. His software development teams and creative teams could be led by servant leaders; both of the styles sound fancy enough to be spoken today. But the operations team - the ground crew - which collects, prepares and dispatches the orders to be delivered within 24 hours operate purely with the transactional mindset. And only if they are operationally efficient, Amazon can be what it is today and also become what it wants to be tomorrow.


Akila is a co-founder of CoRE Inc., a leadership development firm based out of Bangalore, India. She is also a life coach. She is committed to developing leadership traits in young adults and is also in the process of writing her first book on the same theme.

Issue 57 I November 2021





Focusing On Risk With and Through Your People

Organisations use values as guiding principles to represent the integral way an organisation works. These core principles set the expectations to guide and inform the actions of all their employees. Most organisations promote (pitch) their values and culture as a point of difference to the market, prospective employees, and current employees, to portray a favourable image. Employees tend to be drawn to organisations where they believe there is an alignment in values and a sense they are heard and can contribute to the business. It gives employees a deeper reason to show up every day. This is not new, almost a decade ago, Deloitte shared research that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to a business’ success. The survey also noted the strong correlation between employees who claim to feel happy and valued at work and those who say their company has a strong culture. Alignment between the values of the organisation and employees, aids to ‘engage’ employees and that is important in risk management.

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“Your organisation may truly believe in its values and its people. But is what you are communicating in conflict with what you are practising?”

Does your risk management strategy conflict?

Your risk management strategy influences how your organisation operates. You need to comply with market, legal and regulatory requirements and expectations. The thing about planning for risk is that it can make us fixate on potential threats. To protect what we value most we can become so worried about the things that might happen that we introduce systems of protection, that are themselves sources of risk. Risk reduction methods can create overhead, as well as frustrate employees and even create a culture of mistrust. At times this can cause more harm than the original threats we hoped to protect ourselves against and can conflict with the values you promote.



Your organisation’s risk management approach affects your employees as they touch every aspect of your business. If your risk management measures doesn’t support your employee’s or impedes their ability to perform their job function, they can become frustrated. Worse, employees can become creative to find work arounds to complete their work, leaving your business exposed. Even with our best intentions to reduce the effects of certain types of risks, we can find ourselves creating and exposing the organisation to other types of risks. One of those risks is ‘disengagement’. Many executives’ associate disengagement with productivity and don’t consider the risk exposure. When employees are disengaged, they are at best satisfied with the bare minimum level of productivity and focus, and we know that lack of attention leads to errors and ‘unintentional’ insider threats. Which is why statistic shared from Gallup’s recent State of the Global Workplace: 2021 Report, that 80% of workers are not engaged or are actively disengaged, is incredibly concerning.

the poor behaviour, decisions, and actions / inactions of their employees and the systems within their organisation. This drives home the importance of understanding why organisational risk starts and ends with your people. That the organisation will win or lose as a team when it comes to managing risk. That there are heavy costs for the organisation, and personally, in penalties and reputational damage when getting this wrong. Time to rethink

How you approach risk management matters, as does the way your processes, policies, procedures and technology affect your employees. After all, they are the ones who interact and navigate challenges with your work environment. Does your organisation’s risk management strategy help and support them to be successful? The evidence stacks up – whether it comes from the field of business strategy, psychology or political science - if you focus on employee engagement, there will be cultural benefits, you’ll improve the reputation and revenue of your business, create a workplace where people are proud to come to work, and reduce your organisational risk profile.


It is senior executives that are accountable for the organisation’s risk management plan. Though once the risk management plan moves from the original handful of decision makers into the business, the real responsibility, the execution and day-to-day management of risk, is by your people. The Royal Commission’s findings within the Finance Services sector highlighted that accountability resides at the top. It is senior executives that are accountable for

“It is only by focusing on risk with and through your people, that are you going to truly solve your organisational risk exposure and drive transformational change.”


Lisa Sisson, author of ‘Risk Starts And Ends With People: Demystifying risk for executives and leaders’, is a sought-after speaker, mentor, consultant and author who helps executives and leaders who have become distracted and overwhelmed with ‘managing risk’, by demystifying and tackling risk within their organisation.

Issue 57 I November 2021





Hybrid is a privilege

What’s often missing from this conversation is the fact that unlike flexible working, not everyone can work in a hybrid way.


Is Everyone Eligible For Hybrid Working? “The biggest story in the working world right now, in case you’ve missed it, is The Great Resignation. ” Whilst it may sound like a reboot of an old Charlie Chaplin movie, it is in fact a (supposed) global movement instigated by people who are finally recognising that they can do better. For too long employees have tolerated poor management behaviour, unfair working arrangements or just downright bad workplace culture. Post-pandemic appears to be the time where the working world has decided that enough is enough and it’s time to look for better, including the opportunity to have more control over one’s working arrangements. Change is a good thing

Of course, whilst little has changed in the world due to the restrictions the pandemic has wrought, much has changed in the world of work. As lockdown orders were issued in 2020 and 2021, senior managers not only had to re-imagine how work would get done but implement it too. Technology was ‘rolled out’, videos were recorded, and managers were briefed ahead of the biggest change to working conditions seen for 20 years. Importantly, the behaviours, which for years had been allowed to get in the way of greater flexibility of where work could be done by employees, were removed in an instant as ‘working from home’ became the norm. Except that the situation the world found itself in was anything but a ‘norm’. The balance of power with regards to where work gets done has shifted to the employee and many employers are still uncomfortable with this, insisting that in-person is the ONLY way to get things done. These employers are in denial and may see a dramatic brain drain as employees look for better terms than the ones they had pre-pandemic. The organisations that have thrived – culturally – during the pandemic, recognised that this balance shift is a good thing and are able to offer hybrid working as a benefit because of their largely office-based operations. Here in Australia, software company Atlassian is one such organisation, who have implemented an approach called Team Anywhere. It believes that by implementing this approach, not only can Atlassian tap into a richer pool of talent (which is often difficult as a result of Australia’s restrictive immigration policies) but it is also improving the productivity and effectiveness of its teams by providing them with the opportunity to choose how, when and where to do their work. All of which is great news for employees that have office-based roles.

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Surgeons, electricians, chefs, ballet dancers, bus drivers, gardeners, pilots and refuse collectors are just a tiny proportion of roles that aren’t able to sit down with their boss on a Monday and agree where and when work is best done that week. A pilot can’t say ‘actually, I think I’ll just fly that plane to Sydney from home at 7am tomorrow’. This is the crucial difference between flexible and hybrid working. A flexible working policy may, for example, allow a pilot to change shifts or routes to attend a doctor’s appointment, but obviously she can only fly the plane from the cockpit. Flexibility should be available for everyone, but not everyone will be eligible for hybrid working. For organisations that have a mix of roles, there is a very real possibility that a ‘them’ and ‘us’ scenario could be created by those who have the privilege of hybrid working and those that don’t. It’s a challenge that managers need to be equipped to talk about and deal with, in a way that ensures that key staff are retained. This includes being cognisant of the language that they’re using to ensure that people who aren’t able to work hybrid don’t feel alienated; making assumptions of where people are based; and ensuring that expectations are set, agreed and clearly communicated to ensure that there is no confusion. Those organisations looking to implement hybrid working need to do three things to ensure that it’s successful. Firstly, they need to ensure that all managers (including the senior leadership team) fully understand what it means to be hybrid and what’s required to ensure it’s successful. Secondly, they need to provide clarity to all employees as early as possible on which roles are eligible for hybrid and which aren’t. Lastly, they need to undertake tailored training programs for managers to provide them with the skills to inspire and motivate staff, using language and actions that are inclusive, regardless of where staff are based. By providing employees with the opportunity to work in a hybrid way, organisations need to ensure that not only do management skill sets need to evolve to meet the challenges it brings, but also that there’s a recognition that hybrid working is a privilege that some may never have.

Colin D Ellis

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




Earn and Maintain That Trust! Consider the evolution of our species. Of many other species, too for that matter. Throughout the different stages, we all have lived in a community, in a unit comprising multiple individuals. Since the days of our hunter gatherer ancestors, we had all learned to rely on others for a large part of our needs. The alpha males went out and gathered the food, bringing it back to the commune for everyone to nourish themselves. The ones that stayed in the commune had to tackle all other tasks – like make the tools and weapons necessary, do the cooking, take care of the young and elderly (at times). The physical, biological and intellectual limitations of our bodies have hardwired us in needing each other, and by extension, in having to trust people around us. Now, we don’t trust everyone. We often look for signs, reasons and evidence to allow us to trust or not a person. We tend to trust those we know better a lot easier, or those that give us certain ques as to why we should trust them. We trust because of evidence, experience, and perhaps at times because of a trust that is passed down to us from our family, community leaders / elders. We also trust because of a worldview, a belief in something or someone, or just the desire to be positive or optimistic. Why trust though? Trust becomes crucial in interactions. We trust a collectively constructed view of the world. And we trust the values and ideals we have created for our culture within each community. We trust people we deal with – whether they are family, friends, colleagues, or customers, vendors, or any kind of business partners. We trust - perhaps less so today around the world - the politicians, the doctors, the lawyers, the educators, the business leaders. But more so than all, we need to trust the people we meet and deal with on a daily basis. Otherwise, paranoia can easily take over and consume us from within. Relationships need trust. Trust is earned though. And working to nurture this trust and keep it up becomes critical. For some, it comes naturally. For some, it takes a lot more work.

Here’s my opinion. To cultivate trust among your relationships, personal or business:1. Stay true to yourself. Consistency and less pretension will ensure you are always operating from the same anchor point. 2. Be honest for better or for worse, when you need to give good or bad feedback, do it. Just be honest and say what needs to be said in a constructive, genuine and caring way, because at the end of the day you are doing it to help the other person. When you don’t know something, just admit it. When you are wrong, likewise. 3. Never break confidentiality. What people tell you in confidence, respect their wish to keep it to yourself. Try to help them, but make sure you never share with others what you just heard. 4. Always look for opportunities to help. We live in a winwin era. Everyone is looking for beneficial relationships and collaborations for all parties (sometimes, just for themselves). Look beyond that for a bit. It’s ok to just give. When a person needs something and you can give them that, just do so, or help them figure out a way to get it. And I am not talking about giving material possessions or money. It could be advice, time, ideas, help to get something done. Who knows, at some point in the future the favour might be repaid. Maybe not, but either way it’s ok. 5. Trust the other. I presume here that we ‘disqualify all the people that have proven again and again they cannot be trusted’. For the rest, show that you trust in them. You have to be open to trust others for others to trust you. Trust can be a state of bliss. Knowing you can rely on someone is an amazing, heart-warming feeling. It makes us think we are not alone in this world and we are a part of something bigger. At the same time, we also need to be wary of those that continuously break our trust, and know how to cut them off. Because if you don’t, the risks may be high in more ways than you can immediately think…

Eva Christodoulou

Eva was formerly the Research & Development leader at Leaderonomics. Prior to that, she was an editor at Leaderonomics.com. Today, she is the Product leader of Happily, an engagement app at Leaderonomics Digital. She believes that everyone can be the leader they would like to be, if they are willing to put in the effort and are curious to learn along the way, as well as with some help from the people around them.

Issue 57 I November 2021




6 Ways To Optimise Your Operational Processes BY JERRY STUART

The success of or lack of it in a business is determined by how efficient your processes are.

Operational process optimisation is a term used to refer to the practice of boosting the efficiency of your business using process improvement. However, it should be done in line with your business goals. One of the significant reasons business owners leverage this is to reduce operational costs while improving productivity and business revenues. Furthermore, it’s a quantitative tool that businesses use for better decision-making. Areas Needing Optimisation If process optimisation is a new concept to you, here are three places in your business that may benefit from it: • Equipment Optimisation: It involves the installation of new equipment or parts in your machines to upgrade them. To continue using your old machines, you may need to do retrofitting. Other aspects of equipment optimisation include deep mechanical, pneumatic, electrical, and software upgrades. • Operational Procedures: Business operating procedures are affected by the people working, nature of work, and day. In most cases, operational procedures are optimised through automation. • Control Optimisation: In a company’s production process, several control loops may be used to manage a single aspect. As a result, if any of the involved controls aren’t working optimally, it derails the whole process.

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How To Enhance Operational Processes Many business owners invest in operational process optimisation to remove redundancies, streamline workflows, enhance communication, and forecast changes. To help you understand how you can improve processes in your business, here are practical methods you can implement: 1. Automating Product Inspection With today’s technology, you may use intelligent systems for inspecting your products before they leave the manufacturing plant or the warehouse. In production, you need to demonstrate consistency in developing quality products. As a result, considering the kind of product in your business, you should procure top-notch inspection systems such as TDI Packsys inspection systems or similar solutions from a reputable local supplier. Through product inspection, you can automatically ensure the safety of products with utmost precision. Defective products that affect your consumers may lead to loss of finances if affected clients sue your company. In addition, it can destroy the reputation of your business to the point of losing your loyal customers. These are some of the issues that automated product inspection can help you avoid. Some areas where you can use machines to inspect your products are detecting metals, sorting colours, using X-ray laser beams to detect foreign materials in a product, checking weights, and inspecting labels.



2. Keep Deadlines Deadlines are vital in eliminating confusion in business operations. Therefore, you need to set realistic and attainable deadlines to ensure that work is completed promptly. For instance, if you produce certain products on order, you should know when your customers need them. Once you’re aware of the delivery date to your client, you now have to strategise with your management team to determine when each stage of production is to be done without putting exceeding pressure on your employees, which can affect their productivity. Efficient monitoring of the production process ensures that your product is ready for delivery to your client at the right time. Doing so fosters confidence and trust in the client towards your business. Clear and attainable deadlines are a way of keeping your workers motivated to do their best and achieve high performance within the set period. If you’re unable to meet a deadline for your client, ensure that you communicate this to them beforehand so they can adjust their own schedule. 3. Arrange For Employee Replacement At Once It’s generally said that failing to plan is planning to fail. This is true, especially when it comes to ensuring that every necessary position in the company is filled at any given time. Suppose that you have an employee who’s retiring or has handed in their resignation letter with a specified date. In that case, you need to plan for replacement early. You may need to advertise for the vacancy, conduct interviews, and get a suitable candidate to replace your retiring or resigning employee once they leave. On the other hand, you may get a replacement by promoting one of the junior workers. On another occasion, you might have an employee who’s supposed to go on leave or take a sick day. Their position needs to be covered to ensure continuity of business processes. To accomplish that, you can use your skills management software to search from the database who has similar skills to bridge the gap. 4. Conduct Progressive Training Training is essential for empowering your workers and improving their performance. You can have scholarship schemes for individuals who’d like to take courses deemed essential to their job. In addition, you may ask your workers to enrol in refresher courses, especially for technical jobs such as medical-related work.

Assuming that you want to upgrade the customer management system from a manual process to a computer-based customer relationship management (CRM) system, you may have to train your team to use the new technology. Even though these training programs may cost your business some considerable amount of money, they’re worthy investments in the long run. 5. Streamline Onboarding Procedures Onboarding your new hires is a critical part of business processes that should be done professionally. New hires who’ve been drilled thoroughly during onboarding are likely to be highly productive almost immediately. During onboarding, ensure that your recruits are equipped with relevant skills and knowledge for their role at the onset. Moreover, let them know the company culture as well as the vision and mission of the organisation. Important to consider is using the right people to do onboarding. If new hires don’t like the onboarding phase, some may step down from their position. Therefore, leaving the task to a qualified individual who has your company’s best interests at heart should be an option. 6. Carry Out Regular Audits Audits concerning the laid down procedures need to be done regularly. For example, if you purchase specific software, you should check whether it’s being maximised to keep your processes at the optimum level. Additionally, ascertain if the new program has brought any business growth or has been a bottleneck. You may try answering the following questions: • Does it improve process turnaround time? • Has it introduced new gaps in the production process? • What new measures should be taken? Final Thoughts The success of or lack of it in a business is determined by how efficient your processes are. Therefore, you need to keep an eye out for any gaps in your operational processes and address them as early as possible. With the strategies provided in this article and others you’ll get from similar online sources, you can make sure that your business operates optimally in the years to come.

Jerry Stuart

Jerry Stuart is a quality control officer. He likes to share his knowledge and expertise through guest blogging. During his free time, Jerry plays guitar and writes song lyrics. He is fond of collecting coins and fossils too.

Issue 57 I November 2021



“Impressive” Won’t Win The Market. Try “Authentic” BY LAI CHEE SENG

When was the last time you saw a message from a company – any message, any company – and you thought, “yeah, I have no problem accepting what they say at face value.” Can’t remember? Neither can I. Trust is really hard to come by these days.






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New research shows that consumers are losing faith in brands. In fact, brand trust is at an all-time low. Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2020 found that consumer trust in brands are declining across sectors.


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Building brand trust used to be about making sure your product quality met consumer‘s expectations. Then it was just a matter of explaining how great your product was. If you could impress your audiences enough, there’s a good chance they would buy.

Trust Declines Across Sectors And if audiences don’t trust you, they are not going to listen to you. Why are consumers losing trust in brands?


Why are consumers losing trust in brands?

As products and services become more commoditised, it’s becoming harder for consumers to differentiate between brands and products. So the internet became the primary research tool of consumers. Blogs and content marketing became great sources of information for consumers who want to find out more about a product or service they want to purchase. That was a great thing until it became the norm. That’s when 3 factors kicked in that started the downward slide of audience trust. 1. Audience’s radars are more sensitive now. There’s so much content marketing out there. And even so-called reviews and influencer endorsements are crafted marketing messages. Sifting through all the content has made consumers supersavvy. They can spot a sales pitch a mile away, and their guard automatically goes up and those messages get tuned out. 2. Audiences are fatigued from an over-saturated content and information market. So many people are saying so many things, who do we choose to listen to? As the digital channels continues to become more loud and cluttered, it’s only natural that audiences want to get some relief from the noise. 3. Audiences are hungry for something genuine. People are tired of all the frantic marketing messages driving them to spend and consume. What people are looking for now is not just a product or a service, but an AUTHENTIC experience – something honest and real, not carefully crafted to get their attention and money. What is authenticity in branding?

Brands that practice authenticity have clear values and purpose, and are intentionally communicating it. As Simon Sinek says, start with the “Why”. “Why” does it matter that your product or service exist? What problems are you solving for your customers? This is a very different question from “What product or service am I offering?” Take for example, doughnuts. The answer to “What product or service am I offering?” would be “Doughnuts”.

How to start practising authenticity

As I had mentioned, being authentic means you are being true to your values and purpose and communicating that to your audience. Starting from there, here are 3 things to do to start building an authentic brand. 1. Be clear and consistent about your values. Your brand is how your business is perceived and experienced by your audiences and customers. Being clear and consistent draws people who share the same values and purpose. But if they experience any inconsistency, chances are they will lose trust in whether you are really walking the talk. 2. Be real. Nothing turns people off as much as knowing someone is being insincere with us. It’s true in human relationships, it’s also true in branding. So go ahead and admit mistakes, accept responsibility, be willing to let people see your imperfections. When you are real with your audiences, you gain loyal fans who are proud to align themselves with your company. 3. Tell your story. Letting audiences into the story behind why your business exists is a great way to connect. Let them see some what goes on behind-the-scenes, celebrate wins, share losses. Maybe to you, these aren’t anything that would impress audiences, but that’s not the point of being authentic isn’t it. Audiences appreciate seeing the real you because it gets personal. And if they identify with you, that creates another level of connection. Ultimately, authenticity is what creates trust, just like any other relationship. You can’t put on an “authentic” image call it done. You want to have loyal customers who truly believe in and support your brand. For that, you’ll need to build a deeper and more genuine connection with your audiences. Businesses who want to survive in the future are going to have to keep up with this growing trend of expecting authenticity.

The answer to “What problems am I solving for my customers?” could be “Convenience,” “Joy,” “Happy Children,” or any number of reasons why your business exists. The days when you can grow your brand and promote your business with one-size-fits-all is quickly passing by. Today, audiences prefer to do business with brands that they feel a connection with, i.e. share their values, have a sense of purpose that adds value to them, and engages with them like friends.

Lai Chee Seng

Lai Chee Seng is a writer, content writing trainer and thought leadership coach. In over 20 years of experience as a writer, he has written for a diverse range of industries and clients. He believes the key to impacting any audience,is not writing skill but influence and connection.

Issue 57 I November 2021




Workplace Communication Strategies BY EVA LIM SHEAU LEE

If You Get Communication Right, You Get Everything Else Right Cross-cultural communication could be one of the hardest things to do effectively. Misunderstandings can happen because of factors such as different backgrounds and cultural differences. Here are several tips on how to improve crosscultural communication.

1) Be Open to Learning

English may be a common language for both British and American employees, but due to cultural differences, words may be different. For instance, the Brits call their favourite sport football when the Americans refer to it as “soccer”. The phrase soccer originates from a slang short form of the word “association”, which the Americans adapted to “assoc”, which later became soccer or soccer football. This demonstrates that an effective communication strategy starts with understanding the cultures and backgrounds of both senders and the receiver. We must realise that a basic understanding of cultural diversity is the key to effective cross-cultural conversations. For example, football is one of the most well-known female sports where approximately 30 million girls and women enjoy playing football. However, many women in Brazil experience discrimination when playing football. Football was banned from 1941 until 1979, as the Brazilian government perceived women playing football as “against their nature”. Knowing this information when talking to a Brazilian female colleague about football would have helped minimise conflicts that may arise from assumptions.


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2) Business Etiquette

Understanding business etiquette in different countries is one of the most tricky areas when doing business abroad. In China, guanxi is defined as personal connections, which implies mutual trust between both parties. It operates across different levels, from social to business purposes. Establishing good guanxi with your network in China is essential as it helps one get things done more easily. For instance, if a seller builds a good relationship with his supplier, he may get a better deal. However, it varies across sectors and geography. For example, Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen adopt international business practices where guanxi is not as important. On the contrary, Jiangsu and Fujian are generally dominated by small businesses that may still adopt conventional business practices and take guanxi more seriously.

3) No Laughing Matter

A recent study by the National University of Singapore illustrates that leaders who joke with their employees may lead to harmful workplace behaviour. This includes ignoring a leader’s instructions, leaking private and confidential information to external parties, and consuming alcohol while at work. Research demonstrates that management’s adoption of humour with staff may be interpreted as “poor behaviour is tolerated at the workplace”. This is because employees believe that their bosses can tolerate these behaviours. Therefore, leaders must be aware of the type of humour considered appropriate in a different context. Every culture will have a different interpretation of the use of humour in the workplace.



As the majority workforce continues working remotely with team members from different cultures, it is essential to be aware of cultural diversity and stereotypes while using simple language to avoid cross-cultural miscommunication. Also, use humour cautiously while networking with others. Not everybody finds the same things funny.

4) Don’t Be The Typical “Launch and Disappear” CEO

Another common frustration that leaders experience is communicating a new corporate strategy to their employees to ensure alignment, buy-in and drive to execute. Here are a few communication approaches that could help leaders effectively do so:

One of the common mistakes is that leaders often adopt a “massive launch event and disappear” approach. They don’t integrate regular communications into their employee’s daily operations and deliverables. Leaders can consider forming a team of employees who wish to be ambassadors to deliver a new set of strategies. The role of this team is to provide important messages regardless of the individual’s hierarchy at the company. This team can be rotated regularly to increase the participation rate. This can help to ensure that delivered messages are well-received, believed, and executed.

1) Give Context

5) Be A Great Storyteller

Many leaders often assume that their employees know the macro factors that affect business decisions. Sometimes, they think it is unimportant for their employees to know about the market context as it is irrelevant to their roles and responsibilities. However, they must understand these things. For instance, the change brought about by COVID-19 has influenced a leader’s decisions in shifting their gears. So it is crucial to help employees understand the reasons for implementing new corporate strategies in response to the external environment. More importantly, leaders need to inspire their employees, and hence they need to present their message to capture their employee’s attention.

2) Provide Clarity

It is vital for leaders to clearly articulate the differences between the current and revised corporate goals as well as business strategies. Without understanding, the employees may blindly follow instructions. Therefore, leaders need to provide job-specific tools with complete information for employees to apply in their daily operations. Preferably to deliver the message through dialogues than monologues and conduct in smaller groups where employees can express their thoughts without restrictions and feel ownership on execution.

3) Reinforce Strategy-Aligned Employee Behaviors

As most of the workforce continues to work from home, leaders must craft personalised communication while conveying a new set of organisational goals and strategies. Employees may specifically ask what they should stop and begin doing upon executing the new process. Leaders need to ensure their messages are being reinforced through various tactics, mediums and experiences. Besides, the Head of People needs to integrate these messages with their training and initiatives to relate them with people development and performance metrics. Rewards and recognition is an excellent way to motivate employees to action.

Storytelling is one of the best ways to bring humanity to a company. It can help employees understand the relevance of a new set of corporate strategies. It can help communicate reallife examples of progress. Hence, leaders should encourage their employees to share their stories and use them to spark conversations that help strengthen their understanding of the behaviours they want to promote. Furthermore, collective stories and discussions will help create a positive culture aligned with the new organisational purpose and strategic goals.

6) Adopt Innovative Media and Be Unexpected

Communication has changed drastically in the recent five years. Social media, networking, and games have changed the way messages are being delivered to their employees. Leaders may consider using similar platforms and apps for their communication purposes. Gather Town, a virtual platform that creates “natural” navigation of social interactions, is a great example. It provides different meeting settings, such as offices, rooftops, parks, conference rooms, and classrooms, albeit virtual. This gives a fresh feel instead of the standard video conferencing tools that many companies are currently using. If leaders don’t win their people, succeeding with their employees’ customers will be more challenging. Hence, leaders need to invest in their employees to upskill and reskill, which helps to internalise their business strategies while innovating their customer experience.


Eva Lim Sheau Lee is a writer and marketing lead at necole.tech. She is on a mission to foster digital learning and boost employee morale and engagement in organisations.

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The Deloitte 2020 Leadership Model identifies two distinct elements of leadership potential. One being the Developable Capabilities which are ‘learned factors’. These are acquired and developable, changes over time and reflect what a leader can do. The second element is the ‘innate factors’ which are harder to develop, stable over time and reflects how the person is. The summary of various analysis of competency descriptions describe competency as an amalgamation of a variety of different areas of knowledge, skills and motivation whilst adopting different interpersonal styles with different types of people has been widely recognised as an important leaders’ ability. I would like to share in this article what some researchers say about competency and some science behind it that perhaps we can reflect on.

4. Cognitive ability has been repeatedly found to be a strong predictor of job performance (Smith et al, 1989). The importance of these two cognitive processes; analytical and creative is often supported by neuropsychological studies into the functioning of the two brain hemispheres. The Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex (vmPFC), a prefrontal cortex in the human brain has been shown to play a key role in the extinction of conditioned fear responses and, is responsible for human being’s interpretation of others (Ratey, 2002).

1. In their study, Cox & Cooper (1998) found that ‘an openness to uncertainty’ and ‘seizing chances when presented’, ‘determination’ and ‘achievement orientation’ were key differentiators of leadership success.

In closing, I find it rather insightful how Greg M. Smith (1989) describes that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. He says, whether a leader has sufficient ‘relevant’ experience will be a significant factor in determining their competence rating and, if an individual has not demonstrated a competency in the past, what can we deduce about their potential to develop and be able to display that competency in the future?

2. Crump (1999) and Jensen (2008) both found that ‘high flyers’ were more open to feelings and less vulnerable to stress. Crump added by describing successful leaders as those with a consistent dutifulness or ‘strong drive to fulfil obligations’. 3. Clive Fletcher (1996) described competencies as the manifestation of the interaction of a variety of psychological processes, such as thinking, memory and emotions. Fletcher uses ‘emotional control’ as an example of the assessment of competencies that contribute towards customer relations, resilience and interpersonal sensitivity. Interestingly, Fletcher implies that it is unlikely for an individual to score highly across psychological qualities and different competencies, elaborating that this is because “the same psychological factors contribute to different competencies.”

5. A branch of psychology, Neuropsychological studies have identified the influence of the endocrine system, in particular the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline on our energy level and behaviour.

LEADERSHIP BENCHMARKING SPIDER CHART Leadership Temperature Check Managing Resource

Managing Meetings

Communication Skills

SA MPLE Building Relationships

Developing People

Decision Making

Continuous Improvement & Quality

Managing Performance


Leading Change


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

Issue 57 I November 2021


The public sector mission, in many cases, is TIMELESS. 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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