“Leaders are not born, they are made, and although anyone can start a business, only a few can succeed. From his years of experience, Darren Yaw has learnt that it takes having an acute sense of direction to be a great leader. Empires thrive with a dedicated and visionary leader. History has taught us time and time again that leaders are essential in all operations. Even in the animal kingdom, wild wolves have their pack leaders, the alpha males. The alpha male does not only lead the pack but takes care of the females and pups. Darren Yaw is that great leader. Here are his picks for 10 leadership qualities that he believes any entrepreneur or aspiring empire-builder should develop.”
1. BE MOTIVATIONAL
All leaders should be a motivational figure to their followers. This leads to a healthy organizational culture. To inspire employees to press on the accelerator or to brighten up lost spirits in the midst of a difficult defeat or setbacks that will inevitably arise. I believe in inspiring others. My passion for my work brings my employees along with me. It’s not just being about being a good public speaker. Early in my career in Singapore, I improved my language skills so I can motivate all my employees through their own mother tongue. This leads me to the next leadership quality I think is essential….
2. DEVELOP GOOD COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Communicating is key in every organization, in every meeting, in everyday life. Without proper communication, things can spiral downhill in an instant. All because there was no communication. Communication is a necessary skill. A skill that allows one party to express or give proper instructions to another party coherently. I take great effort to communicate with my team. Every Monday morning, like how most schools do, we will gather and have a meeting discussing the week’s tasks. Effective communication goes both ways, it’s not just speaking but listening too. My multilingual abilities (I can speak Chinese–where I first learned it in Singapore from my cousins, Malay—speaking to my friends in Malaysia, English—where I speak with my wife Judie. I am also learning Khmer—the Cambodian language to help me communicate with my business associates there.
3. CULTIVATE MENTAL TOUGHNESS AND AGILITY
Not everyone is blessed enough to be born with a high IQ. I believe that intelligence does not determine your fate. Being able to examine a problem and work out the solution is more important. Leaders should be analytically ready to weigh in the pros and cons of a subject so they can make effective decisions. When my father passed away, it was a very difficult time for me. He had a very special bond with me and I took it pretty hard. But it taught me early on to be mentally tough and resilient in the face of deep setbacks. Later I made it my mission to always be mentally prepared for the worst outcomes while still being able to stay positive.
4. PRIORITIZE OBJECTIVES
Most managers are able to prioritize objectives. It is a common skill set that every manager must possess. To properly delegate tasks with the purpose of efficiently working under managed timelines is extremely important to me. I used to micromanage my team and my subordinates which led to poor productivity and morale. Now I delegate tasks to maximize the potential of every member of the team. My team works more effectively if I just empower them to do the work I hired them to do under the objectives I set. If tasks are not delegated properly and objectives are scattered, an organization will crumble from within. Time will show that working towards a specific objective will not only smoothen out work flows but as well as give time for feedback for further improvement.
5. BE COMPASSIONATE
As human beings we are social creatures. We need to connect to other humans to either be heard or to be understood. Leaders must be compassionate. On a daily basis, everyone has their own struggles, fighting their own private battles that you may know nothing about. In the workplace people tend to hide their struggles and personal problems. Good leaders should recognise that their colleagues and teammates are only human. My staff are my swords and shields against the ever challenging battlefield of business. I need my army to be at their best which means I should be sensitive and aware of their struggles and try to provide the support they need.
6. HAVE VISION AND FORESIGHT
A leader should be able to have a clear and precise vision of the goal he or she wants to achieve. In a film set, a director, who is the leader in the production shoot, is the individual who sets the focus and vision of the shoot. He or she is the person who will be calling the shots, who decides which colour is suitable, or if a frame is good enough to continue. The production crew will look to a director for decisions. I think of myself as the director in the film of my own life. Before I set out to embark on a new project, I always make sure I spend a lot of time figuring out what I want out of it, so I can effectively communicate the vision and goals for it to members of my staff. A clear vision and concrete goals for any business starts at the top.
7. BE WELL-INFORMED
A leader should be well-informed and in the know about everything related to your business or company. He or she should know all the ins and outs of your business as well as anything related to your industry. You don’t need to know all the details of what your employees do on a daily basis because that would be micromanaging. But being well-informed means that you are aware of larger trends happening in the world and how it can or will affect your business. This is crucial to stay relevant with the times and ever-changing and evolving business landscape.
8. HAVE A SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY
Being a leader means being able to take full responsibility when things go south. Although some might think that this means being a scapegoat, it isn’t. As a leader you are accountable for any actions taken by your employees. If a company succeeds, the CEO is thanked, but if the company fails, the CEO should also be the one in front of the firing squad. I’ve seen many leaders who are willing to throw their staff under the bus because they are too cowardly to step up. If your staff and team see you willing to take ultimate responsibility this will inspire loyalty among them too.
9. HAVE SELF-CONFIDENCE AND WILLPOWER
Every leader should have a high amount of self-confidence. This will help motivate their employees to be confident as well. I like to cultivate confidence in my team. I look for people who have the confidence to speak up and challenge me and my thinking. Likewise, I expect them to be tough enough to take my criticism and to meet the challenges at work head on and not hide their heads in the sand. Developing confidence in yourself and the people around you is vital for surviving the tough world out there.
10. HAVE EMPATHY
In a world where cynicism is rampant, it is hard to find empathetic souls. Times are hard, and the world may feel like it’s crumbling to the ground. In the face of hard situations and circumstances, it can be hard for people to be positive and to not let anger or resentment colour their interactions or affect their workplace performance. An empathetic leader should be able to understand and give fair judgment. Especially when it comes to the mental or social condition of his or her employees. To be empathetic is to be able to put yourself into another’s shoes, as the saying goes. At Darway Corp, I try to practice this every day. If an employee is not performing at their best, I will do my best to find out why and to support them the best I can. Darway Corp tries to emulate best practices in cultivating a wholesome and supportive work environment.