Real Stories: Developing Leaders For A Better Tomorrow

Real Stories: Developing Leaders For A Better Tomorrow

Written by Dr. Lily Cheng and Elizabeth Tang


We share our collaboration with our learning partner, a well-established ophthalmology product manufacturer with a rich history of 125 years. The leaders were keen on developing the leadership potential of their young leaders, equipping them with the competencies needed to lead the organisation in its internationalisation efforts. PACE was selected to journey with these budding leaders and we designed an OD intervention that was highly customised. 

Selected leaders underwent a 9 month development journey which involved a combination of learning events and executive coaching sessions with PACE master coaches and facilitators. At the conclusion of this intervention, senior leaders saw a positive change in the leadership behaviours of the participants, as well as greater alignment with the organisation’s expectations.

We interviewed participants about their learning experience and this is what they had to say: 


What interested you to attend this learning journey?


“I believed that this learning journey would improve my leadership ability as well as how I work in my day-to-day.”


“I wanted to learn more about the organisational goals and know how I can contribute to these goals. I believed that by taking part in this journey, I would gain clarity in this area.” 


“I joined this journey because I wanted to improve myself and develop my leadership ability. I was interested in PACE’s unique combination of leadership practices from the East and the West and I thought that this approach would suit me since I work in Asia.” 


What is your biggest takeaway from this learning journey?


“I learned many principles and frameworks such as how to coach my team and how to drive them to achieve the organisation’s goals. After learning these principles and frameworks, I have been trying to practice them with my team and it has helped to drive performance.”


“I believe this learning journey allowed me to explore myself and understand my leadership personality. I learned about leading with compassion because as a leader, I have to balance leading with compassion and wisdom. I am now able to use compassion to influence my team to work towards achieving organisational goals.” 


“I saw the organisation’s senior leaders taking part in this journey and I found it very inspirational to see them in action. These leaders have been with the company so long that the way they integrate the core values in their lives and work has inspired me to pursue that too.” 


Can you share some action points you will bring back to your workplace?


“I aim to communicate constantly in all directions. By communicating the organisation’s goals upwards to the senior management, downwards to the ground teams and laterally to my colleagues and the different divisions, it will give me a baseline of where we are. From there, I know how to contribute and steer our organisation closer to our vision.” 


“I will spend more time thinking deeply about how to develop my current employees based on their current potential and performance level. It will take a lot of time to conceptualise but it will increase their productivity; this is my key objective in engaging them and developing plans for my employees.” 


“I discovered that getting people to follow you is not just about accomplishing the task you set for them; you also have to take into account of how they feel. People follow the heart and I learned to be more compassionate.”


What is unique about PACE’s learning events?

“Our facilitator, Dr. Lily Cheng, is an experienced coach and she puts everyone in a comfortable setting. She really leads with her heart and is genuine when teaching the organisation’s values. When she imparts knowledge, she supplements it with real life examples and never hesitates to answer our questions. There is no distance between the coach and participants which makes me feel comfortable to continue practicing what she has taught me.”


“There is a lot of practical role-playing that is customised to the needs of the organisation. The role-playing often simulates a real situation we face at work and this has helped all of us resolve these issues and challenges.” 


“The experiential activities we did relate well to the principles we learned. I felt the learning events were planned to be more dynamic which is a good change from sitting and listening to what is being taught.”


Tangible ROI from this solution have been observed as the impact continues to be cascaded within the organisation. In the meantime, plans for another leadership development journey with our learning partner’s leaders are already underway! 


How would your leadership team benefit from a customised leadership solution? Connect with us at connect@pace-od.com today!


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Ask the OD Doctors: How Can I Prepare to Mentor My Young Leaders?

Ask the OD Doctors: How Can I Prepare to Mentor My Young Leaders?

Reflections and Thoughts by Dr. Lily Cheng

Founder and Chief OD Catalyst



Have a burning question that you always wanted to ask our OD Doctors, Dr. Lily Cheng and Dr. Peter Cheng? Do email us at doctors@pace-od.com and we’ll reply you within 5 working days. The featured question in our Ask The OD Doctors section will receive a mystery gift from us!


Coaching involves four critical leadership practices: Mentoring, Consulting, Counselling and Training. These practices are important in unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. Mentoring, however, is very much lacking in today’s superlative dynamic environment because time is limited for the leaders of today to balance strategy, execution, leading, managing and project management. 


There is no question that every leader in senior positions know the importance of succession planning, talent management and building up the leadership pipeline to ensure business sustainability. How then do we as leaders find the time to mentor and bring out the best in the young leaders of our organisations?


For leaders to make full use of their time with their mentees, leaders can adopt the principle of the 70:20:10 concept. 70% of their time should be spent mentoring young leaders on the job, in the context of their role within the organisation. 20% of their time is then allocated to reviewing peer learning while the remaining 10% is spent sending young leaders to formal learning, thereafter taking the time to review what they learned.


To help leaders create effective on the job mentoring activities (the 70%) that are targeted at raising the leadership readiness of young leaders, here is a framework you can consider when you mentor your young leaders:


#1 Organisation-fit mentoring

The idea: Intentional mentoring engagements centered on speeding up the assimilation of young leaders to help them better understand the future of the business and the right culture needed for the organisation to thrive.  


When young leaders champion strategic activities, it requires them to have a good grasp of the past, present and future strategic directions of the organisation. It also encourages them to participate in the culture transformational journey of the organisation once they establish the organisation’s strategic directions. Walking alongside them throughout this strategic process is the best opportunity for you to mentor them and prepare them to be part of the future of the organisation. 


In my experience, what has helped me mentor and empower my young leaders is getting them involved in the preparation phase of our strategic planning process.  They are assigned to spearhead discussions on critical topics like market intelligence, SWOT analysis of the organisation, sense making of past and existing data on business achievements and failures. However, not all of my young leaders have the potential to do this, so I select the top 10% of my young leaders to lead this effort. I will personally mentor them, review their findings, and hear their perspectives before the strategic planning sessions with the rest of the organisation.


Quick tips for leaders:

1. Selection of data - Mentor your young leaders on data selection. Guide them to think about where they should look for information and what not to look for.

2. Analysis of data - Provide young leaders with quality questions to facilitate better thinking processes when they analyse the data.

3. Presentation of data - Allow them to explore how they would like to present the findings and interpretations; this is a great opportunity in the mentoring process for them to demonstrate the quality of their thinking.


ROIs of organisation-fit mentoring: Improved productivity and greater organisation strength.


#2 Job-fit mentoring

The idea: Intentional job rotation activities for selected young leaders to explore their capabilities and potential to stretch.


Having young leaders take up different portfolios for a period of 3 to 6 months will encourage learning agility as they will be required to perform in situations with different or steep learning curves. This requires us as leaders to be willing to take risks with them by allowing them to do real work and not merely become observers of the process.  


In my experience, this form of mentoring is one of the best ways to get them highly engaged, highly productive and highly rewarded. 99.9% of this intentional mentoring has turned out really well as these young leaders take on higher level of responsibilities with almost complete understanding of the business relationships and workplace relationships needed to succeed in the business. Truly, these young leaders stay with you longer.


Quick tips for leaders:

  1. Selected young leaders must have a positive attitude towards job rotation. As we do not expect them to fully contribute to a particular business area for the entire 12 months, we must be prepared to do short term appraisals that fairly assess their contributions. 
  2. Young leaders who succeed in this job-fit mentoring are those who tend to be more open to risk-taking. 
  3. It is key to monitor their energy levels throughout their involvement in this form of mentoring. Generally, I find that they are highly charged and driven to see tangible outcomes.
  4. On a quarterly basis, you will need to check in with your young leaders on their achievements and challenges faced to ensure that you provide recognition as well as solutions. 


ROIs of job-fit mentoring: Builds workplace relationships with key stakeholders, peers and customers, and improves one's interpersonal skills at work.


#3 Career-fit mentoring

The idea: Intentional and deep expert-driven mentoring activities that require young leaders to delve deep into the nuts and bolts of the core areas of the business.  


Allow your leaders to be mentored by the best of the best in your organisation to encourage them to grow roots in their areas of expertise. In my experience, there are some young leaders who prefer to specialists in their career rather than generalists. You will need to provide clear procedural mentoring activities for them to build strong foundations in the core business areas. Also ensure that time is given to explore and experiment with new ideas for the business, and knowledge management system in the organisation. 


Quick tips for leaders to be aware of:

1. Selected mentors must have deep expertise for such mentoring, for young leaders to succeed.

2. Watch out for mentors who may not enable young leaders to explore and experiment - you will need to check your young leaders’ knowledge and understanding continuously.

3. As a mentor, you need to pull the brake when your young leaders dive in too deep as they can get lost in their search for greater depth and understanding.

4. Work with them on new, novel projects to facilitate meaningful mentoring with your seasoned expertise, so as to raise their meaning at work and meaning in work in their expert roles.


ROIs of career-fit mentoring: Better work quality and greater job satisfaction at work.


I hope the above tips provide you with refreshing insights on how to mentor your young leaders. Start a conversation with me on mentoring solutions by writing to lilycheng@pace-od.com to share your own tips!


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