When organisations are navigating through uncertainty, transitions, or crisis, leadership becomes increasingly more difficult, yet, its importance becomes increasingly crucial. We sat down with Jean Yap, Senior Consultant and Executive Coach at ROHEI, to hear her thoughts on the common challenges leaders face today and how to overcome them.
About Jean Yap: Jean Yap is a Senior Consultant and Executive Coach to C-Suite executives, senior leaders, business owners, and executives in MNCs, public accounting firms, banks, and health and educational institutions. Before coaching, Jean had a distinguished career in Banking and Finance, having held senior leadership positions in Union Bank of Switzerland (Singapore) and subsequently at Credit Suisse and RBS Coutts Bank Limited. Jean draws from her corporate experience as she journeys with her clients to clarify perspectives, identify core values, build confidence, and find the courage to move forward. She lends deep discernment to her client’s issues while challenging and supporting them, determined to see her clients consistently achieve outcomes by following through on goals and commitments. Her clients have also benefited from a heightened self-awareness and empathy which are cornerstones of effective and inspiring leadership. Read full profile here →
It's a new world and we're in the middle of a global crisis, change is happening quicker than ever. As an executive coach, you are able to hear directly from leaders. What are the common challenges they face and what can they do about it?
“From reflecting on the challenges that have been shared by multiple senior leaders in past executive coaching sessions, I distil them into three major categories,” Jean shared.
1. Self Awareness
“Self-awareness, you can also frame it as personal effectiveness - who they are as a leader, in terms of their values, competencies, thought processes,” Jean said. Self-awareness often correlates with the personal effectiveness of a leader. The leader’s response will set the tone of the team's reaction to change and disruption. Dr Trasha Ulrich highlights self-awareness as the “meta-skill of the 21st century”.
Leaders with high self-awareness exhibit qualities like emotional intelligence, empathy, influence, communication and collaboration, which are critical for success in today's world. Jean shared, “When a leader has greater clarity about who they are, they have greater confidence and courage for responding to situations differently.”
“When a leader has greater clarity about who they are, they have greater confidence and courage for responding to situations differently.” – JEAN YAP
2. Leadership Development - Effective People Leaders
Jean’s clients tend to be People Managers who are the high performers within their company, earmarked for senior leadership succession. However, though they can perform well, they have gaps in their ability to handle the human and relational dimensions. Their effectiveness as a leader will come down to their ability to lead people, rather than just their personal competency.
Jean shared, "The common denominator is the relatability as a people manager. It is always about managing interpersonal relations. When there's clarity there, they know what to do, and how to inspire their people towards a common purpose.” Relational leaders are able to build trust, and therefore they can uncover underlying fears, concerns and motivators of their people. They have an increased understanding of the realities on the ground, which allow them to guide people more meaningfully and effectively.
"The common denominator is the relatability as a people manager. It is always about managing interpersonal relations." – JEAN YAP
Relational competencies are key for leaders today.
People managers have had to focus time and energy on engaging their staff. While working from home, leaders have had to adopt creative approaches like virtual lunches, online games and water-cooler chats on internet calls. This takes a purposeful and deliberate effort. Jean shared, “You can’t assume. You have to be intentional and actually plan for staff engagement, it will not just happen.”
This is important when driving a team towards performance in the midst of constant change and evolving work norms. It is not business as usual. Driving results must come together with acknowledging that employees are working from different environments with multiple responsibilities. “Relational leaders are able to empathise in a changing environment,” Jean said.
Driving results must come together with acknowledging that employees are working from different environments with multiple responsibilities.
3. Stakeholder Management
Leadership and relationship management must extend beyond teams within the organisation to external stakeholders, and the larger community as well. Successfully managing external relations can open doors of opportunity for an organisation that lead to efficiencies and growth. And this requires openness and courage from leaders to connect with others and explore different ways of doing things.
Relational leaders have been able to find creative solutions in adverse conditions through leveraging relations in their networks.
Today’s environment has exacerbated the need to lead with relational competence.
Jean Shared, “At the end of the day, it’s about having the clarity, the confidence and the courage to be a relatable leader.” Being a relational leader goes beyond social skills. It requires a mindset and even a heart-set shift. When you care about the person and not just the work, you transform the whole workplace environment.