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Good companies comprise of good bosses

August 6, 2013

A few weeks ago we had an internal leadership conference. Just a one day thing. The conference was held to foster better relationship and camaraderie between members of the senior management. I find it to be utterly useful. It was handled totally in-house. This proves that there’s no need for you to engage consultants who’d cost you an arm an a leg to teach you things that you in all likelihood already know. The Group Chief Executive of my previous company likened consultants to people who look at your watch and tell you the time. I’ve used that analogy time and time again as I find it described consultants in the most apt of ways. Well, somebody also told me that metaphorically, if the consultants don’t do it for you, would you do it on your own? Would you have the time? I doubt so.

Anyway, to start the session, we played a game. Everyone was required to submit beforehand four things about themselves. Three must be true, one must be a lie. The audience would then be asked to guess which one’s the lie. The four things I posted about myself was:

1. I love speed

2. I hate wearing socks

3. I once lost four tooth in an accident

4. I sleep with the lights on

Most guessed number 4 to be the lie. Actually the lie was number 3. I do sleep with the lights on, whether in JB or in KL. At least a bit of light or I can’t fall asleep. Alright then, moving swiftly on. I was told at the same conference that great companies treat their people well. Great companies retain their good employees. Great companies do this and that. Which set my mind thinking. Aren’t companies made of people? More accurately, companies are mostly made of bosses. 

Let me elaborate. It’s true that everyone in the company contributes one way or the other. We have been taught not to underestimate anyone’s contribution. That I agree with. But just think about it. I’m talking about policy makers here. If you’re at the bottom of the food chain, chances are you’re not a policy maker. You’ve got to be sufficiently high up the ladder to be involved in the policy side of things. Now, all the things mentioned earlier about great companies result from good company policies. 

If the company comprise of good bosses who have the employees’ interests in mind, the company will fit into the description of a good company. A company that hires and retains good people. A company which treats its employees well. Of course there are other considerations as well, say commercial, legal, strategic and the like. But I think I should be allowed to generalise here. Let’s face it, 95 per cent of a company’s employees are at levels where they are not at all involved in policy making. Maybe 98 per cent.

Lesson? If you’re at that policy maker stage, exercise your discretion well. Where possible, have the employees’ interest in mind, subject to realistic considerations. Never forget where you started. Your conscience will serve you well. I always believe that if you treat people well, the oft-used cliche of “work with me, not for me” will hold true.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to wish everybody Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin. Take good care during your travels. 

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