ANDREW CHAN
CEO, ACI HR Solutions

A good leader is simply a good team player.

Q: How essential is being a good role model to effective leadership?

A: It’s important to know that staff will monitor, magnify, and even mimic your every move. So as a leader, you need to stay in tune with this relentless attention and use it to your advantage. Leaders nowadays need to redefine their interpretation of what it means to have “good people skills”. Whilst the traditional approach to leadership has served it well in the information economy, over time there has been less of an emphasis on “big personality” leaders and more on “team players”.

Q: How does it affect employees when a leader doesn’t really practice what he preaches?

A: Leadership style is echoed throughout an organisation and it can bolster or undermine a company’s performance and culture. Credibility becomes an issue for leaders if they are found to say one thing and yet does another. In a talent crunch market like we find ourselves in today, staff can now afford to go from job to job searching for the right leader and company to work for unlike ever before. Leaders, now more than ever, need to engage staff on a far more personal and meaningful level in order to develop the next generation of talent. If not, employees’ potential will not be realised and leadership will become even more challenging.

Q: They say it’s lonely at the top. How can a leader establish rapport with subordinates without putting oneself in a vulnerable spot?

A: Success and influence as a leader depend on correctly reading the employees you interact most frequently with. As a leader you need to appreciate and understand staffing needs and constantly work on your human capital strategies by understanding the career ambitions, family and cultural situations of each employee. This will help to create lasting bonds, and promote stability and loyalty within your teams. However, the tough calls obviously still need to be made as a leader, and if you’ve build enough trust with team members and are tactful in your approach, expectations can still be met as staff will actually use discretional effort when they are engaged.

Q: People development is a trait of good leadership. How important is this for an organisation to thrive?

A: Replacing staff is an expensive exercise and career development has constantly been ranked highly as a reason to leave an organisation. Staff retention impacts directly to the bottom line and is the single greatest threat facing SMEs today. Individuals’ longer term goals needs to be identified early, continue to work closely with them and help them gain the critical skills and experience needed to progress within the company. As a leader, you need to be intimately involved in identifying the high-potential employees and work with your human capital team to tailor development programs that empower them and allow them to thrive in the organisation.

Q: The outcome of an effective leadership can lead to public glory or private credit. Is it fair for a leader to expect either of these?

A: When staff performs, the leader usually gets much of the credit. The best leaders routinely give staff more credit than they probably deserve, and when bosses do this, everyone wins. Also, too many projects end without acknowledgement and celebration, and whether a project succeeds or fails, the best leaders take time to express appreciation.

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