Thursday, 25 June 2015


An executive director once confided in me that she is fed-up with the way her people work. They work as if they don't care, she said. Tanpa semangat. The people seemed apathetic. Some of them are contented with tidak apa attitude. No passion for work at all. She asked, "What should I do?"

This is a valid question plaguing many business executives and managers. What is happening here? Suddenly I remember some of what Dr. Simon Sinek said many years ago:

"If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears."

What do you believe in? Why are you in business? If you believe in enriching yourself, you're actually manipulating your people. People know that you do that. Believe you me, no one likes to be manipulated. If you believe in a cause bigger than your business, employ people who share this belief. If, for example, you are in the business of selling chocolate and perfume, think and believe that you are in the business of helping people relate to their loved ones. Think about how your business can help mend broken hearts or drifting relationships. In other words, reinvent and re-engineer the way you think about your business.

We all know that as a boss, you pay for results. At the same time we also happen to know for a fact that an employee wants recognition for his/her effort. What you need to do now as a boss is to simply recognize employee's effort. As a result you and your employee together will get even better results. Win-win situation.

Remember that when people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute. Invest emotionally in your people. Make it about them not about you. Care about your people. Understand them, because the last time I checked 100% of your employees are people. And the basis for all relationship is to make people feel important. That they matters to you.

"When leaders care less about their people, their people will be careless."


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Corner Office: POWER OF PURPOSE

I’d like to warmly congratulate the writer of an email informing me of her first day as CEO of her organization yesterday. I recall those first few weeks when I was occupying the corner office in 1999 - the fear, the loneliness and the cold sweat in the middle of the night! So for whatever it is worth, this little piece about focusing on purpose is something for her to ponder in the first few weeks of her appointment.

It makes good business sense to focus on purpose, both from a bottom-line perspective as well as employee engagement. In my work with clients, I have found that leaders with a strong, clear purpose and who have aligned the people in their organization around living that purpose tend to have outstanding business results and thriving cultures. Many studies affirm this.

In a 2008 Organizational Performance Study by Senn Delaney, a research firm, with three leading university business schools it was found that purpose is one of three key principles that create the thriving mindset that top-performing leaders demonstrate.

In 2010, PR and communications firm Burson-Marsteller and IMD, one of the world’s top executive business schools, surveyed more than 200 leading European companies across 10 industries on corporate purpose. The Corporate Purpose Impact study found that having a strategically coherent and well communicated corporate purpose is associated with up to 17 percent of better financial performance and builds trust with stakeholders.

Adam Grant, associate professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and a noted researcher on work motivation, recently did a study of several call centers. He found that engaging people in “why” - even in surprisingly simple ways - can have a big impact. He did a controlled study at a university call center seeking to raise scholarship funds. Before calling people, one group read stories from scholarship recipients. The aim of these stories was to remind workers of the purpose; the “why” of their work and its effect on others’ lives. The effect was powerful. They doubled pledges and raised more than twice as much money as they had in previous weeks and significantly more than their counterparts in two other control groups.

So the question now is, what should CEOs consider if they want to bring their organizational purpose to life?

There are five key questions CEOs need to consider when they want to define their organizational and personal purpose:
1) What is your purpose in leading?
2) Do your employees know what your company’s purpose really is -“why” you exist?
3) Do employees feel like they have a personal connection to that purpose and their role in achieving it?
4) Do your clients and customers clearly understand your purpose and what it means to them?
5) Are you willing to make the hard decisions that need to be made to remain true to your organization’s purpose?

My final advice to the new CEO is this. Motivation allows people to achieve goals but does not inspire them. Purpose is what moves people beyond motivation to inspiration. Inspiration that comes from clarity of purpose makes people happier, more authentic in their work and motivated from within, propelled by the belief that their ideas and contributions make a meaningful difference. Any CEO who wants to succeed through inspiring their workforce should embark on the journey to understanding and living their purpose.

Best of luck!

Saturday, 6 June 2015


An early morning tweet by the IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar disrupted the much anticipated “Nothing2Hide” dialogue scheduled to take place last Friday at 10.00am. TS Khalid tweeted: “1MDB dialogue with NGOs. For the sake of public order and harmony, PDRM instructs the above dialogue, at PWTC, KL this morning be cancelled.”

Gossips, name calling, and ridicules seem to be the order of the day when the furious attendees who had been waiting in expectation for a fiery dialogue learned that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak would not be at the Putra World Trade Centre after his press secretary confirmed that he will not be participating in the event following the tweet.

So there goes DS Najib's chance to clear the air and explains himself to the people who put him where he is now.

This might sound obvious, but if you want to build a more engaged nation or workforce you need to, well, engage. That means, whether you are a Prime Minister, CEO or a front line manager, you need to be working hard to connect, face-to-face, with your people. That can mean anything from walking around and making pit stops in offices and cubicles to holding discussions with your people and staying to answer questions afterward. But most leaders simply can’t make time to sit down with every person in the country or company on a regular basis. It’s mathematically impossible. So what should leaders do instead?

Leaders should keep the lines of communication open and find ways to connect with his/her people when s/he can, either in person when the opportunity presents itself, or virtually via email and other electronic correspondence. Being accessible and approachable is critical to effective leadership.

As powerful as accessibility is - and without it engagement is impossible - nothing builds engagement more than being accountable to the people in your organization. You simply have to have the confidence to own your mistakes and admit when you’re wrong.

Being a leader doesn’t mean that you’re always right or that you won’t err. What being a leader does mean is airing the reasons for why you did something and then making yourself accountable for the results - even if those you’re accountable to don’t directly work for you.

That’s how you truly sow the seeds of engagement. Think about it: who would you rather trust - the person who denies anything is amiss or the person who admits their error and then follows up with a plan to correct it? Better yet, what if that same person who admits they made a mistake reaches out to their team for ideas on how to make things right? I’ve found that leaders who show their vulnerability, and admit that they are human, foster greater engagement among their associates.

The people deserved to hear the story of why leaders made the decision. It is simply nauseating to hear a leader go around the country proclaiming his bloodline and heritage and telling people of his warrior blood when his action speaks otherwise.

To DS Najib and all leaders, please ponder on this. When you don’t make the time to explain why you made your decision, people will often assume the worst all on their own: that you’re DETACHED, DUMB, COWARD, ARROGANT, ALOOF or DON'T CARE. But when you make the time to explain the rationale - that you had in fact put a lot of thought into it - people finally understood.

Thursday, 23 April 2015


EPF members will retain right to withdraw at 55, Najib says today. 

Mr. Premier...errr...that is a non-issue in the first place! Now that people are really pissed off with your government, you want to appear as a hero by overriding the EPF board. What a drama, man!

The Employees Provident Fund contribution comes from employees themselves and their employers. EPF is just the appointed start behaving like one instead of like the owner. Stop dictating to us what is good for us and what is not because we can read in between the lines, ok. 

It is employees' money. Period. Kapish?


Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan told reporters on April 23 that those who complain of having to pay Goods and Services Tax (GST) for private hospital fees should opt for government hospitals instead.

Now, now...why didn't we think of that?

Wednesday, 31 December 2014


Regular visitors to this humble blog may noticed that I've been awfully quiet for the past two weeks. It's because I've been away attending the supreme training in my life - far exceeding other trainings that I've attended in my entire life, civilian and military combined. I'll share my own first hand experience and lessons that I've learned there for our mutual benefits in due course.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Cyrus the Great founded the Persian Empire in the sixth century B.C. He was praised by the likes of Plato as an “enlightened monarch.” He was known for his benevolence, justice, kindness, and deep-seated desire for mankind to live in peace. He was also known for being the first to write a document chartering human rights.

Although this book goes through Cyrus’s history and achievements, the leadership lessons expressed in this book are timeless. Many of them focus on dealing with allies, understanding the self-interest of your team, encouraging high performance and standards, and proving that your words are backed by your deeds. Even the renowned management guru Peter Drucker calls it “the best book on leadership.”

“We discussed how wonderful it would be if a man could train himself to be both ethical and brave, and to earn all he needed for his house-hold and himself. That kind of man, we agreed, would be appreciated by the whole world. But if a man went further still, if he had the wisdom and the skill to be the guide and governor of other men, supplying their needs and making them all they ought to be, that would be the greatest thing of all.”