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Leadership is all about the art of listening

“聽” (tīng / simplified听) – the traditional Chinese character defined as “to listen or hear” is an adage I hold close. Its mnemonic“耳王十四一心(Ears, King, One, Heart) serves as a daily reminder that listening is key and should always be done with both ears.

Understand, to be understood

This awareness has shaped my leadership style as I try to get into the minds of others to better understand what’s meaningful to them. I’ll then communicate my thoughts so they understand where I’m coming from where together we can arrive at a decision that’s meaningful to us.

In the last year, we held a company-wide purpose alignment where the business needs align with the people. The efforts invested to achieve a specific outcome may stay the same but the overall benefits are multiplied.

Begin with the end in mind

Simply put, communicate your vision, objective and desired outcome. Know what you’re driving at, then ensure that others do so. Every individual has their own point of view and these views, when collectively analysed, aides in aligning the organisation, bringing the vision to fruition. Pragmatically speaking, it’s not always possible to agree on a decision that pleases all – but that doesn’t mean we should throw out an opinion or shy away from putting a foot on the ground when needed.

Purpose alignment is a starting point in rallying your people. It brings everyone a neutral ground conducive for discussion and understanding. It is here that everyone is encouraged to set goals, see the meaning behind them, and then agree on the actual behaviour to kick-start the journey.

Keep in mind that if your aim is to rally people towards a certain outcome, what’s the motivation if they don’t see the benefits of the outcome?

You are not alone

Sharing my observations and takeaways has been a great reflective exercise and looking back, the past year has been nothing short of exciting. I was exposed to a high learning curve, new experiences which cemented my belief that results – both positive and negative – are never a single’s person effort. While the industry can be tough, sometimes ridden with deal seekers and disrespect for intellectual property, the human soul aspect still plays center in the technology space driven by digitisation.

A final thought: Rally your people, constantly listen, and forge understanding – with utmost sincerity.

The writer is Patricia Goh, managing director, Starcom Mediavest Group

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