“It’s Not How You Start, But How You Finish”: Three Industry Experts On The Skills Leaders Need Today
Talking Points is a semi-regular series where we highlight some of the key topics discussed at a Generation T keynote, fireside chat or panel discussion.
The pandemic has put leaders to the test when it comes to both crisis and people management. Some have done well in the circumstances, others less so, but most would have felt the burden of making pandemic-related decisions to keep their people and operations safe.
To discuss the skills that leaders require today, crisis or not, we invited three leaders with a wealth of experience—two 2020 Gen.T honourees and a Tribe member—to join our latest Cloud Talk webinar, which we organised with Valentino, a luxury fashion label anchored in creativity, empathy and self-expression.
Our panellists were Mark Wee, executive director of DesignSingapore Council, Singapore’s national agency for design; Vincent Ha, CEO of financial solutions company Lyte Ventures and co-founder and chairman of global talent and media company Gushcloud International; and Errol Lim, co-founder and COO of business matching and events data analytics startup Jublia. The three leaders discussed remote working as well as the tensions that leaders may face in their positions. Here are a few highlights from the conversation.
It isn’t the strongest or fittest that survive, but the one most adaptable to change
“In this pandemic, my sector—events—has been disrupted quite a lot and many companies have gone bust,” said Lim. “This reminds me of a quote by American writer Alvin Toffler: ‘The illiterate of [the 21st century] will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.’”
Communicating too much is better than not enough
“Trust and communication has been really important,” said Wee. “I came to realise that you can’t communicate enough and it’s made me do things I never used to, such as setting aside more time to write to my team and scheduling weekly 30-minute calls with my directors with no agenda except to catch up.”
He also saw the benefit of showing his vulnerable side to his team. “At the beginning of the year, I wrote a long email to my team to tell them what they can expect from the year and what I felt. I also shared with them how hard the year was for me personally, and the feedback I got was that people appreciated me just telling them it’s been really hard. It was interesting that that was the one thing that stood out.”
Leaders should take considered actions knowing that others will take their cue
“Many of us have the tendency to want to respond to emails or messages fast, but as leaders, we set the expectations and the culture in the workplace,” said Ha. “As a company, when you say you’re people-first, you have to mean it and show it in your actions for people to actually believe it. Before I reply to an email, for example, I’ll ask myself if I need to do it now, especially if it’s late at night or on a weekend. And if I do, what message am I sending to my team? Do I expect them to reply immediately?”
“I think the only way to get around these things is to have basic conversations,” added Wee. “As long as there’s communication, there’s no offence.”
See also: Gen.T Tribe: Insights And Advice From Some Of The Industry Experts Who Helped Us Select The Gen.T List 2021
A leader’s success is determined by the legacy they leave behind
“It’s so easy to want to go for the quick win as compared to playing the long game,” said Wee, to which Lim added: “Besides empathy and being open to learning from others, I agree that integrity is also an important leadership quality,” said Lim. “I think it can either spell the success or doom of a leader.”
“When a leader falls, you take the followers with you as you’ve smashed that beautiful image [of yourself as a leader] and some of the things you were championing. [In leadership], it’s not so important how you start, it’s more important how you finish.”
Watch more discussions from our Cloud Talk series. To shop the Valentino Pre-Fall 2021 New Formalwear collection, head to ION Orchard 01-08 or Marina Bay Sands B1-16 if you're in Singapore. If you're elsewhere in the world, shop the collection online.