Jedidiah ‘Jedi’ Alex Koh is the Founder of Exercise changes lifeAsia’s leading leadership firm specializing in team leadership development.
Applied business leadership strategy is critical to shaping an organization’s overall business trajectory. Many organizations stumble when they see themselves as a machine that runs in perpetuity, without considering that the organization exists because of a business vision. Today, organizations must see themselves as a business across all functions to be more agile in the face of a disruptive and uncertain marketplace.
Having coached executives and business owners in Southeast Asia, I have seen an interesting pattern emerge through my engagement with them. They have had training and mentoring from Western concepts and frameworks, but it just doesn’t produce the results they want. An interesting phenomenon I noticed is that many leadership and business strategies are written from a Western perspective, and even if there are some Asian ideas, they are often secondary and there is not enough clarity around them.
I grew up in Southeast Asia and have spent the last 15 years coaching intergenerational leaders who run everything from small businesses to large multinational corporations. Using my experiences and practical and cultural lessons, I have put together ten principles for leadership in business strategy.
I call these the “Principles of the Claim.” Why suit? Padi represents rice fields; rice is a staple food for Southeast Asians. Padi has traditions and history that span generations and a great importance that shapes our values and customs. When we think of a padi field, we are not just referring to an individual grain or stalk of rice, we are looking at it as a whole. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. What makes the suit so powerful is its representation of collective strength, togetherness, synergistic possibility, harmony in action, and wisdom that permeates language.
1. Collective, cooperative symbiosis
Although individual strengths and contributions are important, a greater emphasis is placed on the collective, team, collaborative power of how we complement each other to produce a creative solution that is unparalleled. This is the concept of strength in numbers and the symbiotic relationship each person has with the whole. Results and fruits are shared with everyone and celebrated to deepen the sense of group and camaraderie among all members of the collective.
2. Others before self
Too often we think it’s all about us. Putting others before ourselves allows us to take a given opinion and add value. This leads us to have a more abundant mindset than one that is just there for the taking. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
3. Discipline and patience
Leaders and businesses need patience to see results. Quick results or quick wins often create distractions from the goal or end product. The discipline to hold fast and be steadfast in the vision and product to create will lead to greater growth and results. Discipline is very underrated and many businesses just want to see growth year on year. Wise leaders don’t see the year’s shortcomings, but the complex victories of the decades.
4. Saving in Action
This saving attribute is such a vital component in strategy making. Many leaders simply spend and see investments as opportunities to spend more. In a business context, saving is spending at the right time to produce maximum results in the long run. It is about the long-term impacts of spending.
5. Acceptance and celebration of uniqueness and oddities
Diversity has been celebrated for generations in Southeast Asia; it is the acceptance and recognition of unique gifts, talents and personalities that bring out the richness of the culture. In building business, how are we celebrating our uniqueness? Have we become conformist? Have we become a country of “yes” people? The oddballs can often be great talents that just seem odd or don’t seem to match what is expected. However, these features can produce an impact that generates deeper levels of innovation and creative output.
6. Guanxi—The ties that bind us together
Eastern concept of guanxi it is much more than trust or security. Guanxi it is that feeling of trust that one has towards another without any pretense and goes deeper than blood ties. There is an understanding that when an Asian person says something, he will stick to what he says. Their word is their bond. This bond generates deeper bonds than any contract or written document can ever replace. Guanxi can only be fully understood when we understand the metaphor of harmony by looking at its nature and interactions. There are degrees guanxiand yet can be deepened to create a tangible impact for all.
7. Without fear
This is verve and that innate élan that says Never give up; face that giant head-on. Even if all else fails, I will be the stepping stone to enable the next generation to rise. To stand up, to climb and to enter – that’s fearless.
8. Lead with values and principles
Leadership starts with values. Without values, what we do can be incoherent. Finding alignment and congruence is key to leadership competence. Lead from the head with clarity, from the hands with dignity and from the heart with love.
9. Family History—Rising Generations
Leadership is about family. The leader nurtures future generations and develops the team as if they were a close-knit family. What is the story of our team today? Do we feel belonging? Teams that feel a deep sense of belonging often move from a sense of transactional behaviors to transformational actions.
10. Progress, prosperity and the pursuit of happiness
Happiness is seen in the little things and progress brings prosperity. A sense of movement and progress is essential in developing a business strategy. And leaders must never forget why the business existed in the first place. What are we really after? What are we trying to achieve? What is our heritage?
The Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?
Leave a Reply