real leaders

Real Research: Devising An Equitable Future For Work

Real Research: Devising An Equitable Future For Work 

by Vivienne Liu

Research & Development Specialist


Enabled by the connectivity of new technologies, the on-demand or gig economy saw tremendous growth in recent years. Predicted to make up 40 or 50 percent of the workforce within the next decade, these “networks of people who make a living working without any formal employment agreement” (Schwartz, Bohdal-Spiegelhoff, Gretczko, & Sloan, 2016, p. 1) have prompted many leaders to rethink their contingent workforce management strategies.


To remain attractive to the best talents in the market, organisations need to work towards creating an equitable workplace for the changing workforce. Below are two key areas for leaders to consider as they embark on the journey to devise an equitable future for work: 


Learning and Development Opportunities

Despite the growing investments in learning and development over the recent years, the privilege to attend these programmes are rarely extended to the contingent workforce. Most on-demand workers are still fully responsible for their own development and growth to stay competitive in the gig market. As organisations continue to demand for the best and latest skills from their contingent workforce, leaders should start considering how they can support and invest in these individuals.


As a start, leaders can ask themselves: 

    • Are any of our current learning programmes relevant to our contingent workforce? How can we engage them in these programmes?
    • How are our contingent workers keeping themselves up-to-date in their fields? What tools (e.g. MOOCs, online community, etc.) are they leveraging on? How might we support them?
    • How might we leverage on the diversity of our workforce to create better learning experiences for everyone? Can we engage peer-to-peer learning across our full-timers and contingent workforce?


Advancement Opportunities

Unlike full-time employees who look forward to promotion opportunities and all the benefits that come with them, contingent workers rarely enjoy the same advancement opportunities. Instead of a task-focused, transactional relationship most organisations have with their contingent workforce, leaders should rethink their compensation increment schemes and career progression opportunities to engage these workers.


Leaders can start by asking themselves:

    • How might we develop a fulfilling, long-term relationship with our contingent workforce? Are we satisfying their need for achievement? How might we do so through advancement opportunities? 
    • Do we have career progression plans for our contingent workforce? How might we better help them plan their career? 
    • How can we ensure that our contingent workers are being valued and compensated fairly? Does our compensation scheme account for the increased value they add as they continue to upgrade their skills? Are we rewarding them accordingly?


While these questions will get leaders started on their journey towards an equitable workplace, it is only the beginning. Ultimately, leaders should take a holistic view at how they can deliver a great contingent workforce experience.


What other trends have you noticed, or are already experiencing yourself? We would love to hear from you at



  • Schwartz, J., Bohdal-Spiegelhoff, U., Gretczko, M., and Sloan, N. (2016). The gig economy: Distraction or disruption? In Deloitte University Press (2016), Global Human Capital Trends 2016. 
  • Institute for the Future. (2016). Voices of workable futures: People transforming work in the platform economy. 
  • Institute for the Future. (2016). 10 strategies for a workable future. 
  • Rigoni, B. and Adkins, A. (2016). What millennials want from a new job. Harvard Business Review.


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Going Global with PACE ODI

Written by Joel Cheng

Director, International Partnerships


Hello Readers!


As the ODI team carries on building towards our vision for 2017, we have to regularly assess our positions and strategies we have in place to meet our targets. We hope to be able to share new insights and possibly success stories as we continue to reach out and expand our Licensed Partner Network.


Currently among our distributors, we are working closely towards the launch of Real Leaders in Taiwan in April. The dates have not been finalised, but do keep an eye out in our next issue so you can mark it down on your calendars. This launch will include a Real Leaders Conference - so if you are based in Taipei or know of anyone there who is interested in learning more about our core leadership program, please drop us an email at to register your interest!


On the production front, our design team has been rigorously working to refresh and strengthen our Real series branding! Here is a quick sneak peak of our new workbook designs.

Real Performance by PACE OD Consulting - pursuing peak performance for appraiser 
Real Performance by PACE OD Consulting - Career Management Conversations
Real Performance by PACE OD Consulting - talent management skills for employee retention strategies

Till next time!


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The Essentials of Real Leadership: Creating an Inclusive Environment

The Essentials of Real Leadership: Creating An Inclusive Environment 

Written by Dr. Peter Cheng

Co-Founder & Chief of Dialogue


This article is the seventh of a 9-part series by Dr. Peter Cheng that discusses the Who-ness and What-ness of A Real Leader who Shapes Culture and Drives Performance. 


If you have been following the series of Real News, you would remember that in the first article, “The 8 Essentials Of Real Leadership”, I shared on what has caused a crack in the trust in corporate leaders and how the business world has been tainted by countless and infamous corporate frauds over the last few decades, among which were the Enron (November 2001) case and Lehman Brothers case (Sept 2008) that triggered global financial meltdown.


In the light of all these corporate frauds, stakeholders of organisations are demanding and expecting more transparency and able leadership to ensure that organisations and their leaders come clean and above board. Given these happenings. constituents now have a baseline expectation of their leaders. They want to see their leaders as being worthy to be followed, before they commit themselves fully to the leadership.


This seventh article of the Real Leaders series features Creating An Inclusive Environment, another essential of what makes a leader real, to inspire and engage their people. 


There are many studies on how inclusive leadership impacts constituents’ engagement, productivity and loyalty. Carmeli et al., 2010 has shown that when organisations demonstrate inclusive leadership that is manifested by openness, accessibility, and availability of the leader, they engender the presence of employee psychological safety and involvement in creative works at the workplace.


In creating an inclusive environment, real leaders ensure that their constituents feel comfortable being part of the team, department and organisation. They appreciate the uniqueness of individuals that make up the collective team and look at what each individual brings to the mix and harness individual talents for the collective good. Real leaders create space for individuals to have their own stories and to share their experiences, leveraging the synergy of their collective wisdom to derive creative and quality decisions.


The question is, “How do Real Leaders create an environment that is inclusive?” From our experience, observations and interviews with CEOs, these are the following effective behaviours demonstrated by inclusive leaders.

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Seek to understand individual motivations in a team setting

Abraham Maslow advocated that people have 5 levels of needs with physiological needs being at level 1 and self-actualisation at the highest at level 5. It is not surprising to see members of a team having different motivations in a diverse team with diverse backgrounds.  Real leaders care about the different motivational levers that move the individuals. They are observant and sensitive to the differing motivations within the team and expend efforts to find the right “mix”of motivators to engage their people. In my decades of experience leading teams from various organisations and industries, I have seen all the motivational levers at work in different individuals and it was imperative to meet these diverse motivational needs before peak performance could be attained. 

Do you know what motivates your team members? Unless you provide those motivational levers, chances are they would be disengaged with you.


Show respect towards individuals of diverse background

With increasing talents and people mobility across globe, more teams will compromise of people of different nationalities, ethnicity, and personality.  Over the last 18 years,  I have facilitated hundreds of workshops for MNCs and I remember there were many occasions that I had no less than ten nationalities in a single workshop. Imagine the diversity of ideas and creativity these participants brought to the workshop! Real leaders are mindful in dealing with their team of people from diverse backgrounds. They create space for the team members to express their views with much respect for all and the same time, reinforce a culture that respects diversity that includes nationality, ethnicity, qualifications, experience and gender. 

Al Gore once cited“I think that more diversity is a good thing, and fresh points of view articulated by people who are committed to excellence”. This is echoed by Martin Luther King Junior’s “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” Real leaders know the power of a having a diverse workforce. Think of how you might enhance diversity in your team.


Take time to listen to others

The gift of time is one of the most valuable gifts a leader can offer to their people. Real leaders recognise that they do not have answers to all the problems and issues faced in the workplace. They know that they are far from perfect and are subject to making mistakes.  Such leaders realise that the team members have much to offer in solving team challenges and have the collective wisdom to bring their team to a higher level of excellence. They exercise intentional and deliberate efforts to listen to others, garnering ideas and suggestions to rise above organisational challenges. During one of my consulting engagements with my client, I noticed that the Managing Director (MD) of this MNC deliberately took time to listen to people during their monthly “Meet-The-MD-Session”. He would take all sorts of questions, suggestions and feedback from the ground and implement those feasible suggestions to bring their organisation forward. I learnt from my client that the MD is a very well-liked leader in the organisation. People were motivated to engage him freely and felt at ease to share their thoughts on how the organisation might improve. Many studies have shown that when employees are engaged, they will go the extra mile to strive for their teams and organisations. 

George W Bush said “Leadership to me means duty,  honor, country. It means character, and it means listening from time to time”. How often do you take time listen to others in your team? 


Take deliberate actions to develop collaborative work relationships and collectivism

A study by Gundlach, et al,, 2006 on the relationship between individualism–collectivism and team performance has shown that individualistic team members exert a negative influence on team performance. Real leaders are builders of relationships and collectivism. They understand and appreciate that the foundation to effective leadership is having great relationships with the team and among the team members. Dr. Bruce Tuckman has for long time suggested in his team formation model that when teams have clear norms, they will perform what they have set out to achieve. Notably, norming is preceded by relationship building among the team member. Real leaders are adept in facilitating collaborative relationships that engender team thinking and collectivism from which the wisdom of the team can be leveraged to achieve common goals for the organisation. 

How is your team’s relationship at the moment? Are team members as collaborative as they should? What would you do to increase collaborative work relationships and build collectivism?


Establish and maintain an open channel of communication

Real leaders are champions of establishing and maintaining a channel of communication with their team members. They know that to be inclusive, they need to foster open communication with their people and among their people.  In doing so, they ensure that the people have psychological safety to communicate their thoughts authentically for the betterment of the team as a whole. Culminating respect for each other within the team,  the leader ensures their people have access to them to share their feedback, opinions and suggestions. To do this, real leaders take the lead by inviting their people to call upon them to discuss anything that they feel could advance their people and their organisation. 

Stephen Coveyonce cited “Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” In essence, communication begets trust that holds relationships and real leaders simply know the value of what open communication can do in maintaining a cohesive team. 

Real leaders make it a point to constantly communicate with their constituents. ‘Dialogue’ as the word suggests, involves two or more people within a conversation. This means that communication has to be a two-way street between the leader and the constituent; an exchange of thoughts through thinking together.  

Leaders may have the tendency to take charge of conversations. In doing so, they block out opinions from their constituents, who may offer a different insight and alternative solution pathways. 

Leaders who practise dialogue will find that there is an honest and effective exchange with their constituents resulting them being not be afraid to converse on the same level as them. How is your communication with your team? 


Moderating and Aligning OOPs and IPs to remain in the flow

OOP means “Out of Pattern”; it is not surprising for leaders to experience diverse thinking from an inclusive team of individuals! Although these OOPs are capable of creating tension at work by being an opposing thought, they are also capable of promoting creativity and diversity in the workplace. Real leaders leverage OOPs to generate the best of ideas with skilful integration of diverse points of view. 

IP means ‘In Pattern” and real leaders are mindful that when team members show similar thinking, they could demonstrate groupthink - which leads to idea stagnation and "un-creativity." Hence they would do the necessary to ensure that team members are stretched to think, to facilitate creativity within the team. 

In brevity, real leaders create a platform for all to participate and moderate the OOPs and IPs. They make sure that all OOPs and IPs are moderated towards leading their organisation to excellence. How do you mange the OOPs in your team?


In conclusion, real leaders know the importance of establishing an inclusive environment for all in the team to feel valued and engaged. They harness the team’s wisdom by integrating diversity of the team members’ opinions and contributions. In doing so, they continue to maintain a platform that engages and inspires the team.


I would love to hear from you. Do email me personally at for more thoughts on what it takes to be a Real Leader!


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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 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 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 to share your own tips!


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Real Research: Leadership Challenges of 2017

by Vivienne Liu

Research & Development Specialist

In our last article for Real News, we discussed the impact of technological development and the shift in workforce demographics on the learning and development landscape in 2017. Building on our previous conversation, this issue explores how the changes in technology and the workforce might create challenges for leaders. We focus on three key leadership challenges of 2017 and what leaders can do to overcome these challenges:

1. Retaining Millennials

Millennials bring with them a different set of expectations. Compared to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, they value growth and advancement opportunities significantly more. With compensation ranking sixth on Millennials’ job wish list (Rigoni and Adkins, 2016), the
traditional incentive system of premium compensation might not be enough to keep Millennial talents. Thus, leaders need to rethink the way they engage Millennials by…

  • Redesigning initiatives based on what Millennials want. Leaders can refer to numerous studies published on the topic or conduct their own internal survey to find out what’s important to Millennials.
  • Gathering feedback and continuously improving them. No one gets it right the first time. Leaders should gather feedback on the effectiveness of initiatives and continuously develop them.


2. Engaging Remote Teams

As technology makes collaboration over distance easier than ever, we see a rise in remote teams (Jones, 2015), in which members work from various locations and might not even have the chance to meet each other. While this new way of working allows companies to leverage on talents located in different places, it presents leaders with the challenge of bonding the team and engaging members. To ensure their virtual teams thrive, leaders can start by:

  • Clearly defining goals and individual roles. Leaders should set clear goals for the team and discuss how each member can contribute to achieving those goals.
  • Creating a conducive environment for trust. While trust is important for teams in all settings, it becomes even more critical for virtual teams. Leaders should encourage team members to get to know each other better beyond work, and have open discussions on how they can work with each other.


3. Developing Future Leaders

As many senior managers plan for retirement in the near future, leadership succession has become a challenge. Moving forward, leaders need to take a different perspective on leadership development and succession planning. Leaders can start planning early by…

  • Going the extra mile to identify talents. Instead of limiting themselves to the usual shortlisted top performers, leaders should cast a wider net in their search for potential leaders and include those who meet certain criteria but have not made it to the shortlist. To do so, leaders can leverage on a crowdsourcing method, where employees nominate potential talents based on their observations.
  • Being aware that formal training alone is not sufficient. While still a critical component of leadership development, formal training alone is insufficient to prepare future leaders; other significant aspects include continuous feedback and coaching (Bersin, 2016). Thus, current leaders will need to be prepared to invest more time and resources over the long run to build future leaders.


Bersin, J. (2016). 11 predictions for 2017. 

Deloitte University Press. (2016). Global human capital trend 2016.

Ferrazzi, K. (2014). Getting virtual teams right.

Harvard Business Review. Harrell, E. (2016). Succession planning: What the research says.

Harvard Business Review. Jones, J. M. (2015). In U.S., Telecommuting for Work Climbs to 37%. Retrieved from telecommuting-work-climbs.aspx

Lane, K., Larmaraud, A., and Yueh, E. (2016). Finding hidden leaders.

McKinsey Quarterly. Maier, S. (2016). Leadership's top 3 challenges in 2017. Retrieved from https://

Rigoni, B. and Adkins, A. (2016). What millennials want from a new job. Harvard Business Review.


What other trends have you noticed, or are already experiencing yourself? We would love to hear from you at!


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Ask the OD Doctors: Leadership Gaps in 2017

ASK THE OD DOCTORS: Leadership Gaps In 2017

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 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!


With the economy not doing very strong globally, it has presented another challenge for leaders around the world. How do we achieve our 2017 targets or how do we remain sustainable in our business directions and purpose? It’s imperative you balance between being inspirational and being practical as a leader in order to lead well in 2017.

The seminal question asked by Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones in their book, is: Why Should Anyone Be Led by YOU?  This leads me to the next important question: What are the critical leadership gaps I must close to lead well in 2017?


The unconscious gap 

This refers to the gap between what you think you know and what you don’t know.  Many times I hear leaders telling me, “What else is there to know? I have been there, done that.”  Sad to say, this leader clearly feels that he/she has known it all. They act as though they’ve been everywhere and have experienced everything. If there’s a problem, they have the solution; if there’s a question, they have the answer. 

Strong opinionated leaders deliver their answers in an obnoxious manner and you probably have never, or ever heard them utter the words, “I don’t know.”  These leaders tend to dominate conversations, dismiss inputs from others and make decisions with a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude.

As leaders, we need to transit regularly from unconscious to conscious learning modes so that we are able to listen and know what we don’t know, to become agile learners who lead well.


the influence gap

With the rise of a multigenerational workforce, leaders are called to balance the need to command and demand versus the need to inspire and enlist.

It sounds cliché, doesn’t it?  Yet if we understand the importance of influence as an enabler to effective leadership, we’ll take time to close this gap. 

Influence is often misconstrued as being manipulative. Manipulation is about exerting devious influence, especially for one’s own advantage.  Influence is the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen.  The difference between the two lies in the intent - is your intent a positive or a negative one?

If you want to close your influence gap, you will need to understand:

  • What the different influencing styles are
  • Identify gaps in your influencing style
  • The range of influencing styles
  • Increasing your adaptability, capability and confidence of using different influencing styles, through deliberate practice


the sense of reality gap

When I was working in a government statutory board, I was told that they used the Current Estimated Potential (CEP) model.  This led to me appreciate the HAIR framework used to assess one’s potential as a civil servant:

Helicopter quality Power of Analysis Imagination Sense of Reality

What impressed me about this framework was how important it is for a leader to be practical.  A person with good helicopter vision is supposed to be capable of comprehending the big picture, but if the leader remains in their ivory tower, they will not see the finer details on the ground.  Hence, it's important that a leader has a strong sense of reality to address ground issues and provide support to people on the ground.

Here's a quick exercise for you to assess your Leadership Gap. Rate yourself as a leader on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 representing the worst in leadership and 10 being the best in leadership. This is a risk-free evaluation, as no one else but you will will see your score. Do this now and write the number down.

Next, ask others to rate you on this scale. Encourage them to be authentic in their assessment of you. After you receive their rating, calculate the difference between your score and how others rate you. This difference is your leadership gap.

Your self-rating - Rating from others = Leadership Gap


Whether the leadership gap is a result of perception or reality, doesn’t really matter.  What’s more important is that you don’t allow your hubris to overshadow your humility. 

The very essence of leadership is about people. It’s about leading well in 2017, about improving the status quo, inspiring positive change and making the workplace a great place to work.


I hope that I’ve inspired you in some way to look at your own leadership journey this year. I’m looking forward to hear your stories as well, and would be glad if you could write back to me at or


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