10 Asian leadership tips


Shanghai, China, March 4th, 2014.- There is no doubt that Asia is currently the best example of growth and an excellent business vision. At the 2013 Hay Group International Conference in Shanghai 10 ways to lead an organization through transformation were found out:


1. Have the foresight to see what’s ahead

In recent years, the buzz in the boardroom has been about how to capitalize on the opportunities on offer in fast-growing economies. But according to Robin Bew, managing director and chief economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit, that picture’s changing – and business leaders need to reflect the shift when transforming their organizations. That means:

– Looking for opportunities in less obvious places: by 2100, Nigeria will have a population of around 700 million to China’s 900-950 million.

– Not letting short-term trends distract you from long-term ones

– Recognizing what business advisor and author Ram Charan calls the “unstoppable trends”: things like the internet, advanced analytics and big data. All the while keeping a watchful eye on the huge social, demographic and political changes that are constantly shaping our world.


2. Have the insight to spot an opportunity

Effective leaders don’t just observe the way in which the world is changing; they spot the opportunities created by those changes – and grab them with both hands. What opportunities can you see for your business?


3. Think positive and remember your dreams

Emirsyah Satar, president and CEO of Indonesia’s national airline, Garuda, deals with a lot of doubt. But it’s other people’s:

“People don’t believe Garuda will be transformed, but a transformation is a journey – so you need to be very passionate about what you’re doing, and have a positive outlook. That includes seeing a crisis as another round of opportunities you need to capture.”


4. Know your place

What united the speakers at our conference was diffidence about their place in the pecking order of their organizations. They may be leaders, but they saw themselves as humble servants, not the kings of the castle; and phrases like “corporation first”, “the greater purpose” and “pursuit beyond profit” were heard in rooms across the venue.

You’re the leader, so it’s your job to have a clear view of what you’re trying to do and why. And that means being able to answer: Who am I? Why am I in this role? For what purpose? If you lose sight of that vision, your people will too.


5. Rethink how often – and how fast

Transformation itself has transformed. It’s no longer something you do every three to five years, but something you do every day. And you do it quickly. This message came through loud and clear from our speakers, including Atul Khosla, vice president of human resources for Asia Pacific, at the food giant Mondelēz International.

“Transformation means constantly challenging yourself, your beliefs and your ways of working, and taking inefficiencies out of the system almost on a daily basis,”

Speed is good, too, if it means being nimble and agile enough to keep up with your customers, said Ram Charan:

“Speed is a competitive advantage,” he explained, “and you’ve got to measure it through the eyes of the consumer.”


6. Transform yourself to transform others

Yu Liang, president of China Vanke Company Limited, really does walk the talk. Having achieved his goal of climbing Everest by his 50th birthday, he’s now applying the principles behind his personal transformation to improve the health of his employees.

Hay Group puts it in the words of Richard Boyatzis an American organizational theorist, professor of Organizational Behavior and an expert in the field of emotional intelligence, behavior change, and competence:

“To get people to change, get them to think about what they really want from life – and coach them to create the possibility of getting to that vision.”


7. Empower your customers and your people

Empowering someone is an act of trust, and trust – both you trusting your employees and them trusting you – is vital for effective leadership.


8. Be brave enough to break what isn’t broken (but leave your values intact)

It takes one kind of courage to sweep in and rescue an ailing organization, but another kind entirely to disrupt a successful one. Yet that’s what many of the speakers have done to stay on top.


However brave you are about disrupting your business model, though, don’t disrupt your values. They’re what make your organization distinctive, and bind your people together.


9. Make alignment your mantra

“Alignment” is cropped up in many contexts, including the need to align roles to your business, align company cultures during M&A and align strategy, operations and culture.

As a people business, you need to align – not in a command and control way, but by sharing the vision, and coming together as rapidly as possible” – Robert Brunck, chairman of the board, CGG


10. Tell a simple story

The business world is immensely complicated. As a leader, part of your role is to bring clarity and simplicity to that complexity. Both TCL Corporation and CRC developed simple models to solve business issues and shape strategy. The most important thing you can do to lead your organization through transformation is tell a simple story.

If you can turn your vision, and the steps needed to make it happen into a story your people can relate to and engage with, you’ll have a strong foundation for success. So, tell a great story: simply, with clarity and authenticity. And tell it over and over again.


Mexican Business Web via Hay Group

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