Category Archives: leadership

Make Your Own “Lin-sanity” Career Move

Jeremy Lin is an unlikely basketball star.  In just a few weeks he was propelled into spotlight as a result of his star athletic performance on the court.    Basketball scouts overlooked Jeremy from high school and was undrafted after college.  He was signed and traded around as a bench-warmer, without much hope of significant play time.

Let’s take a look at what we can all learn to manage our careers.  While not all of us can be stars, there are lessons to be learned:

1) One is never given the opportunity; you must earn it

  • All the stats would indicate that Jeremy should have been snapped up by an NBA team.  Consider the tireless practices with his father during his early years.  He led his team to champion chip games in high school and at Harvard. 
  • Jeremy waited patiently, even playing for development teams, until the right opportunity came about due to injuries.

2) Don’t do your best; you must excel

  • Doing your best doesn’t cut it anymore.  It is a very competitive environment, both on and off the courts.  Jeremy was called to play on that fateful day and he came out charging, leading his team to k a 99-92 victory over New Jersey.
  • You only have one chance.  Making every moment count is the only way to be relevant.  Look for ways to add value.  Identify the areas that has been troubling the boss.  Fill that void.  Make it count.
3) The boss takes a gamble; you must not disappoint
  • It seems that Coach Mike D’Antoni was rotating through point guards.  In the game against the Nets, the coach is likely desperate to make a play and summoned Lin to play.  He didn’t know what Jeremy could or couldn’t do.  This was the moment Lin needed.  When his moment came he simply exploded on the court when it counted the most. 
  • Put in your best and even excel in your workplace.  Don’t take those rare opportunities for granted.  It may not be today or the next, but with consistent and persistent you will be noticed.
4) When you do well; everyone else does well
  • Jeremy Lin lifted the struggling Knicks to a winning streak.  He has in effect ended the contract dispute of network television in New York. Along the way, he has brought in a new global audience, those who are not the typical NBA fan.
  • Winning is infectious.  Doing your best will uplift your team, department, or business division.  You can build momentum giving teammates new found confidence.
5) Be humble; give credit
  • Jeremy has taken the NBA by storm breaking records, even against the best.  Everyone is crediting Lin with the wins and phenomenal success.  Lin gives credit to his faith, teammates and fans for his game wins.  However, he takes the full ownership when game losses.
  • You might be the project team leader or the division manager.  But, nobody makes accomplishes on their own.  There are other stakeholders and team members working together to achieve the same goal.  Thus, it is important to credit where credit is due.
These are my 5 lessons for that anyone can apply in the workplace, not just on the basketball court.  Chances to make a difference don’t come up everyday. But, when it comes up, make every moment count.
All the best on and off the courts.

6 Qualities of a Senior Executive

20111108-162227.jpgI am working with my recruiting team this week on “Building Winning Teams” – our purpose for existence. A critical topic is on recruiting leadership candidates.

Finding management and leadership talent in China has been elusive for many companies. Not only are global multinational businesses competing for “leadership” talent but so are local China enterprises, who are fast becoming global players. Competition is heating up for a small pool of candidates.

We discussed the key qualities in evaluating an executive candidate’s potential.

6 qualities of a senior executive:
1) Tactical (do the work of today)
2) Strategic (drive the business of tomorrow)
3) Leadership/Management (get teams organized to do the work)­­­­
4) Influential (partner with HQ and customers)
5) Creative (solve complex problems)
6) Passionate (it’s not just a job)

By the way, these qualities not only apply to senior candidates but also with all levels of the organization. It not only takes leadership but also the entire team to move an organization forward.

An Interview with Robert Yeo, Executive Director and CEO of STADA

The upcoming joint human resources development conference with ASTD (American Society for Training & Development) and STADA (Singapore Training & Development Association) is just slightly over 2 months away.  I had an opportunity to exchange email dialogue with STADA’s Executive Director and CEO, Robert Yeo.

Here is what he had to say about the HRD Asia Pacific conference:

Q.  The upcoming ASTD STADA Asia Pacific Conference is a hallmark event for both organizations.  What led up to organizing this conference in Singapore? How did ASTD and STADA initially conceived of the idea?
A.  We started in 2009 when STADA’s 

President Lim Khia Tat and I went to Washington DC to meet ASTD’s management and shared the importance of bringing the West and the East to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience. We opened up to ASTD the idea of building a partnership with STADA and holding an inaugural conference in Singapore.


Q.  Do you anticipate that this will become an annual event?
A.  Yes, if the HR community embraces this Conference.

Q.  What does it take to organize such an international conference on a regional and global scale?  When did the initial planning take place?
A.  The initial planning process started as early as mid-2008.

Q.  How did you and the conference team determine what topics and speakers to select?
A.  The Program Subcommittee together with the Steering committee and ASTD discussed and decided on the relevant speakers to be invited in this inaugural Conference. It is meant to be a sharing of experience from practitioners who has been there and done it.

Q.  How many people are involved?
A.  We would like to embrace as many volunteers as we can within the professional community to be part of this Conference.

Q.  The STADA is a leadership organization in human resources development.  What are the 3 key HRD issues facing organizations in Singapore and in the Asia Pacific region?
A.  We have nine tracks in the ASAP Conference to cover a wide spectrum for workplace learning professionals. They are:

  1. Public and private sector training
  2. Innovation
  3. Productivity
  4. HCD Industry – Trends and Insights
  5. Multi-cultural, multi-generational training for employability
  6. Training for Small and Medium enterprises
  7. Blended Learning and learning technology
  8. Training techniques and processes for adult learning
  9. ix. Leadership development and talent management
  10. The tracks we planned are suitable for C-suite, senior management and practitioners.

Q.  What can HRD leaders and practitioners do to help organizations develop it human capital potential?
A.  HRD leaders and practitioners can help organizations develop their human capital potential by ensuring that they are current with their knowledge that is available in the field therefore ASAP Conference is one of the platform where they can come to hear and learn from the best practitioners in the field of HCD.

Q.  Why should HR and organizational leaders attend the 2011 ASTD STADA Asia Pacific Conference?
A.  HR and organizational leaders should attend the ASTD-STADA Asia Pacific Conference for the following reasons:

  • Thought-Leadership: experts from the West and the East to share their global insights and cutting-edge tools for human capital advancement in Asia Pacific
  • Conference Tracks: unique and compelling workshops on Innovation, Blended Learning & Technology and Multi-cultural Diversity
  • Exhibition: showcasing the latest local and regional new technologies and learning modules to help take learning and development in new directions
  • Network: meet and learn from the best minds in HCD to exchange key management solutions to evolving challenges. Also opens up business opportunities for the attendees and delegates.

Asia Talent Update

Talent Shortage

imageManpower released their annual 2010 Talent Shortage Survey.  Specifically to Asia, they found that 45% of employer have difficulty filling vacancies due to lack of talent.  Those of us in the HR field know this too well.  We either have to adjust the skills requirement or take extended period to fill positions.  The survey show the lack of talent trend is on the upward rise.

imageCountry analysis show that most Asia countries show a difficulty score that is above the global average. I am a bit surprised by the China result.  Actual experience may depend on the type of skill required for your organization.  As a result of the recent economic downturn, companies may be looking to Asia for growth and pressure for critical talent will only continue to increase.

Macro Economics and Labor Risk

imageKelly OCG and Eurasia Group released their Q2 2011 Global Market Brief and Labor Risk Index.  The Index showed in the second quarter that inflationary pressure is on the rise resulting
in higher prices for a range of goods, like fuel, basic commodities, and housing.  As companies hire new staff, they are facing upward
wage pressures.  It impacts retention as staff look to job change for the incremental pay hike.

The report indicated that in China, provincial governments, especially along the coast, have already rushed to raise minimum wages. This will increase the cost of labor there, and rising costs could spread to other provinces.

Local MNCs Catching Up

In a Harvard Business Review article, The Battle for China’s Talent, the author writes that the ability for foreign multinational companies (MNC) to attract top talent has been on a decline.  While foreign MNCs have suffered from economic recession, Chinese companies have seen growth and expansion.  Local companies have grown to become household names, if not global brands.  In rational decisions by Chinese workers, they are choosing to work for local firms seeking greater career opportunities.

image Foreign companies are under pressure to retain talent, especially middle-managers.  As the graphic shows, while many applicants join foreign MNCs with an intent of a longer tenure, many are leaving sooner than expected.

Solutions – Don’t be left in the lurch

Finding solutions may be elusive.  Not only are competition heating up against other foreign companies but, local Chinese firms are stepping to recruit top talent.  The macro-economies are complicating matters creating rising wage pressures.  However, if companies intend to focus growth in Asia, they must identify strategies and solutions to retain their talent base.   Talent development and management are key.  Don’t be left in the lurch.  Focus on high performers and succession planning with high potentials is key to success. 

HR’s Role: Building Winning Teams

imageI was traveling this past couple of weeks meeting new recruiters on the staffing team.  As part of orientation one of my key objective was to share goals and set expectations of the team.

My key message:  Our goal as recruiters is to enable the business by help them to “Build Winning Teams.”  We do this through “consultative, solution-based recruiting.”  What does this mean?  How do recruiters and HR accomplish this?

Build Winning Teams

As a recruiting team, I consider recruiters as frontline architects building a stronger business one hire at a time. Although recruiters are not the hiring manager per se, we do have the decision making authority of who moves on to the next rounds of interviews.

Thus, we shoulder a huge responsibility of ensuring only the best candidates are selected for management interviews.  Being a part of a winning team are clear.

I asked a new hire of what how she compares her current workplace relative to her former employer.  With the former employer, it was focused on cost-cutting measures.  Employees were concerned if they will achieve their targets of business reform.  There is a strong sense of pride and winning attitude of being a market leader at the current workplace.

Other results and rewards of building a winning team include strong revenues and high profit margin.  Employees are focused on R&D for product leadership.  For everyone, this means higher bonus payout at the end of the year and, association with working for a strong company brand.

Therefore, recruiters must have a clear understand the business strategy and direction.  Recruiters should never take their eye off the ball of recruiting top talent into their organization.

Consultative, Solution-Based

How often have you worked with recruiters who simply “pass paper” from recruitment agencies to the hiring manager.  They argue that they are HR experts and not technical experts to recruit outside of their knowledge domain.

As front-line architects, it is critical for recruiters to understand the business of the hiring groups they support.  How can HR and recruiters claim to be “business partners” if they have no insight into the business domain.  An HR solution without taking into the business requirements is no solution.  HR can do better.

Therefore, recruiters are required to understand the business.  They need to gain the trust of line managers and senior leaders.  As trusted advisors, recruitment professionals have multiple alternatives in their “tool kit” and know when and how to pull each trigger for the best outcome.

In recruiting, line managers often set profile requirements, which can only exist in his/her own imagination.  You know what I talking about.  The discussion isn’t about how difficult it is to find the candidate.  The recruiter must have the trust to pull in the manager into the discussion, reevaluate requirements and partner for alternative approaches.

The HR Leader

Up against Asia’s uphill battle for talent, HR leaders are required to do things differently.  Team members work tirelessly each day with managers on interviews and selection.  Doing different means helping teams connect the dots, seeing how the their work finding key talent, enables the organization to accomplish phenomenal things.

Challenge the team to do better.  Give them examples of great staffing/HR teams.  Show them in a tangible way of how HR can be effective.  Solicit testimonies from line managers of how HR has help their business unit and organize succeed. Celebrate the success.  Step by step, the team will strive to do better.  Making a difference is worth it.