Becoming a good leader is not a one sided endeavor

It’s everywhere, article after article, literature after literature and book after book of teaching oneself how to become a good leader

  • Listen to your team
  • Communicate effectively
  • Give them flexibility
  • Make timely decisions
  • Positive attitude
  • Keep your team informed
  • Do not micromanage
  • Educate your team why we are doing what we are doing

Frankly, I’m a big fan and a believer of all of these stuff.

Having been in the workforce for quite number of years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with leaders I’ll be glad to follow and some bosses that kept me wondering how many lives of decent people they’ve ruined. Working with individuals from both sides of the spectrum gave me a pretty good idea of what kind of leader I wanted to be

An opportunity to form my own team

2 years back, I was given a chance to form and lead a team

I thought to myself, now’s the time to finally be able to practice what I preached. There were all kinds of things running through my head and was pretty damn excited about it:

  • I choose to listen
  • Empathise
  • Keep my staff in the know so that they are motivated
  • Train them well so they choose to stay on because they want to
  • Give them the freedom to work on their tasks and make decisions
  • Emphasising that a good company culture is of utmost importance and protecting that culture
  • Encouraging feedback and voicing out concerns
  • Providing flexibility
  • Giving them the tools and the knowledge to get their job done
  • Giving them opportunities to travel as much as possible

To give myself a pat on the back, we’ve achieved pretty decent results in the past 2 years.

We were growing, fast

From a team of 2, we are now a team of 5.

Sales grew and our customer base expanded pretty widely.

We joined a lot of industry events and started to know more people and were expanding our package selections.

We had biweekly meetings where these few questions were constantly asked

  1. Are you facing any challenges in your current responsibilities that I can help point you in the correct direction with?
  2. How do you think we can improve and be better?
  3. Do you have any other things that you would like to voice out?

We had promotions that were pretty successful (at least to me) and we had more queries than we could handle

I had a very proud moment where some operators and suppliers that visited our office were shocked to see the number of active files (customers) that we had

We did the whole team thing, we went out for meals, planned activities together, cared about each others’ personal lives, and joked around

We were busy and we were growing and I thought I was doing the best that I can to empower and motivate my team so that they can take charge and the business can take on a life of its own.

Things seem to be coming together pretty well. At least that was what I thought

Our self evaluation and plans to move forward

Things were a little crazy at the office, we started getting a little more queries than we could handle and I realised that some of my staff were struggling a little to keep up with the pace. To me, that was something good because if you ain’t feeling like you can’t keep up with things then you ain’t doing things right

Fast forward, it’s now the start of 2020. It was a good time for us to sit down, evaluate what we were doing in 2019 and how we wanted to move forward in 2020

I went through the whole process (painful, but I thought it was worth it) of creating a marketing plan with the intent of letting my team know that our efforts were paying off but we just needed to be a little more organised and focus on a few key areas in 2020

I spent a good 2 weeks churning out that document and tried to make it as informative as possible

  • Projects launched in 2019
  • Our achievements in 2019
  • Sales trends in 2019
  • Challenges faced in 2019
  • Discussions with staff as to what challenges they faced in 2019 and what they thought the company did well / did not do well in 2019
  • What differentiates our brand from other agencies
  • The golden circle of What / How / Why of our brand
  • Definition of our products, services, and customers
  • SWOT analysis
  • Competitor analysis
  • 2020 individual goals for everyone

… and even an introduction of a new sales incentive for everyone

We spent a whole day going through these information

Everything was going well… until the part where the individual goals were up for discussion, 2 of the goals were a percentage increase in sales and increase in margins – I even broke down how we would be able to achieve each individual items

A little give and take, maybe?

Then came the resistance, things like we’re already on OT quite a number of days, we’ve not been able to answer all enquiries, we don’t think that we can WhatsApp blast our customers that often, we should get compensated if we hit our targets. Yada yada yada. (Frankly, at that point of time, I was thinking why did I not see anyone resisting when I was picking people to go on a familiarization trip?)

I understand, everyone’s swamped, but I hired another sales staff for the team and am looking out for another one because I’m eyeing on expanding; and by all means I am not trying to discredit the team for the effort they’ve put in in 2019

But what really disappointed me was the fact that they did not take a look at themselves and think how they can improve, even in such an open and supportive culture. They’ve ignored some of the strategies and tasks that we (we, as in, as a team, sat down and discuss and agreed on) put in place in 2019, but I’ve tried my best to be understanding and think maybe it’s because of the workload or how aggressive we’ve been in the market.

At the same time, it also hit me that maybe through all these good leadership principles, it takes a team member that is motivated enough and wants to improve (and that’s a whole different story altogether) in order for that synergy to happen

Maybe it takes two to tango?

I don’t know

Life goes on

My belief is that even if you are comfortable and want to remain in a position and doing the same thing forever, there’s nothing wrong with it, but you can still be world class doing what you are doing

It’s not easy to lead, it’s a lonely place to be, and it takes a lot of thought to take care of both the commercial side and also the human side, even more if you’ve got personal stakes involved. Oh well, I guess the only thing to do is to continue trying my best; no point sulking

If you’ve got any similar experiences and want to tell me that this is normal, or even have any advise to offer, I’m all ears ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope for better days ahead and pointers of what to do



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One Response

  1. I strongly believe that
    1. Family comes first for certain individual. They have “Powerful Dreams” but when it comes to Family issues. They tolerate and slow them back to their family issues again.

    2. The original culture from their parents Shaped them into who they are now. (Aka stable income = what I wanna work the shit out for my boss?)

    3. They dunno how to work it out using “your” way of leadership.

    *my personal suggestion will be.*
    1. Sit down with them personally and Customise the Goals based on their “personality”, which way that they are comfortable with. You must know and
    They are not You. You cant expect them to work like you. ๐Ÿ™‚
    *reference- you may look at Enneagram 9 personalities*

    2. I believe their are so many more ways to handle them. Just that we are not exposed to those methods yet. We must read Books …still books … still books..


    -your Humble Maths tutor-

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