Ask the OD Doctors: "What Keeps You Going?" - Lessons from 18 Years in the Business of People
Reflections and Thoughts by Dr. Lily Cheng
Founder and Chief OD Catalyst
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Throughout these 18 years of being a business leader and an entrepreneur, my desire has been consistent: which is to make OD simple so that organisations we work with understand the importance of having interventions that impact the individual, team and organisation.This desire has not wavered or changed over the years that we’ve strived to make PACE visible in the marketplace.
I hope that I’ll be able to benefit you by sharing some lessons learnt from my journey. Successful leaders whom I’ve personally had the privilege to coach, or meet, have consistently demonstrated these ‘P’s:
Being self-equipped with your area of expertise to do REAL work. When I started, I knew that OD required me to deep dive into people behaviours, and I was determined to start understanding concepts of positive psychology, organisational behaviours, psychobiology, cognitive science and social science.
The importance of not allowing Good to be the enemy of GREAT (Good to Great by Jim Collins)
The need to pursue work beyond Singapore and be known. Leaders need to set their sights to go out of their current comfort zone, and it's dependent on how far the leader can see and how willing they are to take risks with people. PACE started searching for partnerships outside Singapore and we realised that we have a place in the global arena if we focused in the niche area of OD. We constantly examine our business model to relook at our strategic positioning beyond 2020, ensuring that we’re aligned with current trends and ahead of the competition.
Purposeful in Pursuing Work
As a leader, building a network of the BoBs (best of the best) and making meaningful connections is important, as this is how your business can evolve to be one of the best as well. Knowing that PACE had to offer top-tier OD solutions to be one of the best, we pursued a world-class leadership program to penetrate into the leadership arena. This is how we came to work with Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner to successfully bring The Leadership Challenge programme into Asia. We also sought out and built partnerships with thought leaders Professor Edgar Schein, Dr. Bill Isaacs and Dr. Michael Marquardt.
People who love what they do and do what they love
Hiring people who love the OD industry is key in building strength in PACE’s OD works. We can’t have people who don’t love what they do, or do what they love.
You’ll face numerous ups and downs in your business and there’s a need to be positive amidst complexity and ambiguity. As a leader, it’s difficult to lead when you harbour negative thoughts about your own staff. How do you light up the workplace and inspire your staff, when you’re so negative yourself ? Positive thinking is also about seeing the good in people, especially those who work for us. It also means that you’re willing to see the potential and future possibilities of your staff, and invest in them.
The need to leverage on positive energy even when faced with difficult clients, staff or situations. How do we build on positive emotions? According to Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology theory, it’s actually about being mindful in the experience of happiness, joy, hope, love, and gratitude. It’s about using strengths to meet challenges, connecting with others, finding meaning and purpose in life, and experiencing success. I think it’s important that leaders help to cultivate such a culture in the workplace, instead of solely being focused on tasks and outcomes.
Moving forward, I hope to create and introduce more OD solutions that leverage on the power of positive psychology. I’d also want to invest in my idea of life OD; that OD can be applicable in both our professional and personal lives. I’m looking forward to hear your stories as well, and would be glad if you could write back to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!