Friday, December 20, 2013

Engagement = Closeness and Comfort


Many leaders and managers are apt at challenging and supporting their team members to achieve high-performance goals and when the results are lacking, the answers is not in more challenge and more support - it requires a deeper approach. It has to do with engaging the employee from a closeness and comfort level (Thanks to my friend, Chris Hogan who has shared with me this concept that kick-started my thinking process in relating this to the subject of employee engagement).

As corporate goals and expectations of performance becomes increasingly demanding, leaders ought not to lose sight of the "humanness" of the employee and realize that it is the "heart" work (not necessarily just the hard work) that is the crucial turnaround factor. Before our team members carry out our instructions, there is a silent heart-cry for intimacy. It is not intimacy in the romantic sense of the word, rather it is about our attentiveness to each other's intrinsic need for understanding, comfort and encouragement. Before I do what you tell me to do, do you really see me? hear me? understand me?

It is a matter of putting the person ahead of the performance. Here's the paradoxically result - when we put people ahead of performance, then what you get is loyalty resulting in sustainable performance.  Is this what we all want at the end of the day. In this week's Wise-Video, you will discover the two important engagement focus for the leader - one external and one internal. Do not neglect one or the other.

"Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Official Gallup Accelerated Strengths Coaching


Completed the first-ever Asia's Accelerated Strengths Coaching program from Gallup held in Singapore last from Nov 25-29. After about running strengths-based sessions for a year now, it was great to formalize the certification process and be in "live" connection with the facilitators in person. To my surprise, I was the only one representing Malaysia...

Dinner with the family at Orchard Road after a "strengths-filled" coaching week ...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Myth of Ambition

The issue for most of us is not a matter of under-achievement, rather it is over-achievement because we are trained since young to be balanced and holistic, so we know a bit of everything - leading to the situation whereby, we are a Jack/Jill of all trades but master of none. Patrick Morley's definition of "failure" - "succeeding in things that do not matter" - is a poignant reminder that being busy and ambitious may not necessarily indicate a life of meaning and purpose.

Click Here to listen to the full radio interview. This is part three of a four series interview at BFM entitled "Discovering Your Life Purpose"

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Calling vs Career

Do you wake up with a pull towards greatness or is it just dragging yourself through another work day? As we go on in life, the pursuit of meaning comes strongly into the forefront - even more important than money  (assuming basic hygiene factors are in place). Can we find this sense of fulfillment at work alone or is there something more? 

What are the ingredients that go into defining my calling in life? 

Click Here to listen to the full radio interview. This is part two of a four series interview for the month of September. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It is About Life-Role Balance

Do you know that your state of mental health is linked with the clarity of your life purpose? There is so much talk about work-life balance as being the answer to solve the state of our mental health that we are actually missing out on the root cause of what causes depression in the workplace.

Our focus should be on life-role balance rather than work-life balance. 

Click Here to listen to the full radio interview. This is part 1 of a four series interview for the month of September. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Myth of Bottom-Line Compensation

The Easterlin Paradox states - beyond a certain threshold, rising incomes don't bring happiness. The focus on monetary benefits raise an employee's performance to a certain level - beyond that, the law of diminishing returns sets in. It takes more that just the "input" of compensation to drive for performance, it requires a certain "internal state" of the employee called - the level of happiness. 

Click Here to listen to the full radio interview.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Basics of Patience

The one word that should be in every job description is PATIENCE. PATIENCE is defined as accepting a difficult situation without giving a deadline to remove it.
Instead of using the job description as an excuse to NOT do something, a PATIENT employee accepts reality and makes the most out of the current conditions. To put it bluntly, a PATIENT person does not throw a tantrum whenever things don't go his or her way!
A person of character is one who has learned the meaning of delayed gratification. While it is true that deadlines are important, a person of PATIENCE exercises discernment and wisdom so as not to "cut corners" for short-term gains. A PATIENT person constantly evaluates his or her actions against a longer-term perspective - willing to suffer even present pains to reap future benefits. Isn't this the type of employee or colleague we all desire?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Forgiveness : The Test of Servant Leadership

Servanthood - it's nice to talk about it but don't you start treating me like one! Browse through the management titles in a bookshop and you will find a ton of books on the subject of leadership but try doing a search on servanthood, you may be disappointed. Can there really be a marriage between these two terms to create a cliche that suits everyone? Servant Leadership - it sounds right but feels awkward.

It is easy to lead from a place of positional authority. People sit behind thick, tall desks giving orders all the time - that's the easy part. This is because positional authority works only if there is a formal reporting structure i.e. people are paid to obey. What if you want them to go the extra mile, to put in that effort of excellence? That's where positional authority falls short.

Why is FORGIVENESS (clearing the record of those who have wronged me and not holding a grudge) important? When practiced sincerely, it reveals the "human side" of our leadership. We are not as infallible as we thought we are and we are ready to admit and confess when confronted with the truth. When we practice FORGIVENESS, we are sending out the following messages to our team :
  1. I do not have all the answers. I need you.
  2. I value your sense of personal worth and esteem. That's why I am sensitive enough to ask for your forgiveness.
  3. I believe in our future potential together. So, I am not going to let any unresolved hurts get in the way.
Isn't this what real teamwork is all about? Without FORGIVENESS, the team functions but it rarely moves forward. As a leader, your role is more than just positional - you must begin to embrace your sense of moral authority as well. Nothing demonstrates our sense of humanity more than the act of FORGIVENESS itself.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Commonality of Wisdom and Foolishness

Both the wise and foolish person has the same goal - they both desire to do what is right.

What then is the difference? It is I have the source of the standard and in the rapid speed of the timing. The wise person has a standard of rightness which is found beyond himself - he appeals to a source of righteousness which is universally acceptable and within the acceptance of human conscience. However, the fool does what is right in his own eyes. That's why it is futile to argue with a fool because he stubbornly holds on to the view that he us right and may even argue logically to the wrong conclusion.

What about rapid speed of timing? The wise person rapidly self-corrects when he fumbles whereas the fool delays the response of self-correcting and holds on to his point view. My ability to quickly self-correct by being willing to apologize sincerely is a sign of wisdom and not weakness.

Monday, May 27, 2013

BFM Radio : The Myth of the Weakest Link

The team is only as strong as the weakest link - this phrase has been often used to corner individuals to buck up and polish up their act else it will drag the whole team down. The virtue extolled here is one of an individual who will sacrifice his personal preference for the greater good of the team.

Yes, we may be called upon to go the extra mile but if every mile we take is the extra mile, very soon you will experience the backlash of poor morale and productivity. It is not about the weakest link, it is about every link,

Click Here to listen to the full radio interview.

Monday, April 1, 2013

BFM Radio : The Myth of Core Values Definition


Many organizations are busy "branding" themselves with a focus on defining core values for the entire company. Yet, defining core values and having them printed and displayed is only the easy part for cultural differentiation. The key to cultural sustainability is employee engagement.

Did a BFM radio interview on the "Raise Your Game" segment where I talk about the one key habit managers need to practice in order to ensure that core values are not only just preached but practiced as well. It takes more than just a townhall meeting to make your company's core values work.

Click here to listen to the radio interview.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

BFM Radio: The Myth of Upward Promotion


There is a huge difference between career promotion and career fit. When promotion is offered, it is very rare that this opportunity will be rejected. So, the corporate person soldiers on - taking more and more people management and administrative responsibilities. And yet, do we ask the question - is this person wired for people influencing, having the talent to influence or develop others?

Did a BFM radio interview on the "Raise Your Game" segment where I talk about alternative ways for promotion and growth (Hint : the path to corporate growth is not always upward).

Click here to listen to the radio interview.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Recruitment Ads : The Boss Factor

Most recruitment advertisements trumpet the basic incentives - salary, perks, facilities, etc but I have yet to see a hiring notice that takes into account the NUMBER ONE reason why employees quit. Shouldn't it be logical that if I desire to hire for loyalty that I also find out what is the main cause for disloyalty and have this consideration as upfront as possible in the hiring process?

Here's the ONE major insertion in your next recruitment ad that will make all the difference :
"This job will place you in relationship with a boss/supervisor who cares for you as a person, recognize your efforts and spend regular time discussing your growth and prospects in the company. He will not outsource your growth to the HR department as he believes in personally coaching all his direct reports".

Employees do not leave companies, they leave managers. If that is true, then the NUMBER ONE attraction factor for people to join the company is also the quality of the hiring manager. So, why not flaunt it?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

BFM Radio: The Myth of Unlimited Potential

Did an inaugural chat session at BFM Radio today on a new series called "Finding Your Strengths - An Affirmative Approach to Leadership". Much stress is created when leaders buy into this myth which shouts - "You can become anyone you want to be as long as you put your mind to it! You have unlimited potential!"

The truth is our talent is limited and the leader can only do so much. That is why there is a need to focus on strengths rather than on fixing weaknesses. By identifying your strengths, you become more of who you already are rather than force-fitting yourself to become something you are not.

Click here to listen to the radio interview.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The R.A.T. Way of Influence

The shortest and surest way of killing off your influencing skill is by nagging and telling! People automatically put up a barrier of resistance of when they are told what to do. If you rely upon positional authority to exert your influence and hoping to get your subordinates to toe the line - of course they will but their actions will not stem from a heart of loyalty. They will only do what you want when you are constantly "on-their-back" and it stresses you out because you will have to micro-manage their actions.

There is a better way. It is the R.A.T. way of influence -
  1. Reflect - Spend time to read and reflect upon your own leadership traits and style. Get feedback and invest effort in a process of self-discovery to know yourself better. Without a thorough understanding of what makes you tick and motivates your behavior, you will merely be reacting instead of responding to situations.
  2. Action - Then take action on what you have learnt in the reading and reflection process. Taking action does not mean a total transformation, rather the focus is on consistency and repeatability. Many read but not many translates thoughts into habits. A disconnect between thoughts and behavior is simply known as hypocrisy.
  3. Teach - Now, you are in a position to teach and to share with others what they should do. Often, we are too eager to teach! However, if you follow the right sequence of Reflect & Action before Teach, then your teaching will be authentic because you would be one who is already walking the talk in an authentic manner. Followers look for authenticity before they commit their allegiance.
So, are you ready to be a part of this influential R.A.T. race?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How is Your Face Value?

It is interesting to note that when we clothe, we cover most parts of our body but not the face. Why is this so? I believe, my face displays a certain countenance which reflects the inner state of my heart. Many desire to project the right image of themselves by focusing on fashion, cosmetic and physical appearance but miss out on the all-vital ingredient of their countenance which is the story of the heart written on the expression of the face.

Instead of spending time (and money) dressing up too much, I would recommend that we take time to focus on improving the countenance of our face rather than the "cosmetic" of our face. Beyond just smiling more often, getting to the root cause of a cheerful heart involves the following :

  1. My relationship with the Creator of my heart. Without a strong spiritual center, there is really little to shine on my face. If I am not at peace with God, then the stress will eventually show on my face.
  2. My relationship with my life partner. The most stable of all human relationship is that between the husband and the wife (till death do us part...). Now if the state of this relationship is under duress, then it will also show on my face.
  3. My relationship with my boss/supervisor/authority figure. British scientist George Fieldman claims that boss-induced hypertension could increase the risk of stroke by one-third! Obviously, there are a lot of sour-looking faces on the streets today that are caused by a sour relationship with the boss.
So, if you do not want to "lose face", take care of the three vital relationships in your life as stated above. Then your face will really shine!