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"Unleashing the Leader in You": A Sharing Session with Theresa Goh

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Theresa Goh, the author of ‘Leading for Good’ is very determined to facilitate and improve human dynamics. Her vast experience in cross-industries have positively resulted in her receiving multiple awards; World's 150 most influential headhunters by Business Week (2008), the Top Award for Charity Governance awarded to SATA COmmhealth (2018), and Friend of MCCY (2018).

Having a breadth of experiences and knowledge, Theresa is trusted by many people in helping them join the dots on organizational issues and improve the way corporate dynamics flow. Moving Walls is glad to have Theresa joining us last week in a virtual sharing session, which focused on unleashing leadership potential and talents among the organization members.

Here are some of the takeaways from the session:

Theresa started the session by defining the meaning of leadership in three ways: a social process that involves people, an effort, approach, and responsibility to positively influence people and have shared goals and missions.

Five levels of leadership

  • Leading Self- You do not necessarily need a team to be a leader because you are empowered to lead yourself and contribute to society.

  • Leading Others- You will lead other people with the same goal. You are responsible for recognizing them for their performance, advise and guide them for improvement.

  • Leading Teams- You will work with a group of people with shared goals, and you are the decision-maker on behalf of the team.

  • Leading Functions- You will be recognized for functional outcomes.

  • Leading the organization- You must communicate effectively, inspire people, and influence people towards business and societal success. Executive presence is important. 

Everyone is born a leader. 

However, the real question here is whether they want to be a leader, and are they willing to be a leader? - readiness and willingness.

To have a Purpose is to cast your sight beyond the mission, even on a timeline that outlives oneself. Once your purpose becomes clear, your strategy, mission, and vision also become clear and aligned.  Strategy connects to the human’s mind while purpose connects to the human’s essence.

There are a lot of people in the organisation and these people might not even hold the same vision. How do you bring these people to follow a leader?

Let me tell you a story about a young CEO in Australia. I was coaching him back then, and during our first conversation, he said to me that he had no sense of purpose and only worked for the money. I immediately noticed that he needed to change his way of operating his organization.

I then asked him, “What makes you happy?”

To my surprise, he told me that cooking makes him happy because to him, the whole process of cooking involves creativity. He was also pleased when they eat his food. He learned to apply the entire process of feeling personal happiness at his workplace. He started to see his team from a different angle. He no longer saw them as people who fulfill his KPIs. Instead, he learned to guide them to think out of the box and help them unleash their hidden talents and skills.

Coming back to purpose, to become a leader, you have to be very clear about your purpose to give the people around you a clear sense of purpose as well. These purposes will bring people together and can be translated into work practices, communication and policies.

Mission and vision are displayed on the company’s wall, but it has not really been practised. Is there a way we can incorporate the company’s mission and vision into our daily life?

Most organizations put their mission and vision statement only as a checklist exercise, but it has not been translated into behaviours. The main problem is that everybody is too involved in making strategies and completing tasks. How do we make our everyday behaviours resonate with the mission statement? How do we influence people to practice the mission statement in real life?

Let’s take an example of Uniqlo’s mission statement, “The power of clothing.” Uniqlo created a mission and vision translated into behaviours through their values of embracing ‘Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  They work with the virtue that practices “When I communicate with my co-workers, I can be authentic and transparent. I can say what I mean and mean what I say.” So, be compassionate towards your colleagues. Give them time to prove and explain themselves, and we cannot immediately judge them. 

What are the qualities a person should focus on when moving up as a manager?

The characteristics that a leader should have:

  • Effective communication skills where you can convey what you want to achieve.

  • Positive influence where you can get the other person to see your Point-of-View (POV), by caring for their needs and making sure their opinion matters.

  • High resiliency where you can handle and manage stress or sudden challenges very well.

How do you see system thinking can be executed in the organisation? 

My approach is using system thinking from a developmental leadership angle. When you look at yourself as a system, you will build awareness around your competencies, motivation, personality, and potential.

  • Competency: Do I have enough skills and experiences to contribute to the organisation?

  • Motivation: Do I really enjoy what I am doing?

  • Personality: How does my personality affect my work performance?

  • Potential: What capacities do I need to uncover to be an added value to the organisation?

Leadership can be nurtured, so if you can build yourself as a robust system, you will become a great leader

“When data comes together it becomes knowledge.

When knowledge comes together it becomes understanding.

When understanding comes together it becomes wisdom.”

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