Living Beyond Expectations At Leaderonomics

By

Louisa Devadason

30-12-2016

10 min read

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How core beliefs have guided Leaderonomers through a year of excellence

When organisational culture guru Joseph Tan joined Leaderonomics, he impressed upon us the importance of intentionally shaping our culture. Two years ago, he worked with the senior leadership team and together they distilled Leaderonomics’ culture of going “Beyond Expectations” or “B.E.” into five core beliefs:

  • BE Accountable – I take personal ownership to deliver on all expectations entrusted to me
  • BE Agile – I find opportunity in all circumstances and will adapt myself to thrive in them
  • BE Courageous – I am open to honest and authentic conversations and feedback
  • BE Excellent – I accept challenges and exceed expectations in all that I do
  • BE Synergistic – I actively seek out and lead collaborative opportunities

These beliefs were forged because we were growing and planned to keep growing. The enormity of our organisational goals necessitated us coming together to envision the culture that we wanted for Leaderonomics – one that everyone’s ideas, expectations and direction could be based upon.

As we expand, these core beliefs help keep us on the same page about what we do and how we do it. They have aligned our focus, our understanding and our way forward in this business.

Our leadership, systems and structures (processes), and even our business model and strategy are guided by these five core beliefs. We recognise our achievements and those of fellow Leaderonomers based on these values. We refer to our beliefs as the standard upon which Leaderonomers make a difference in their work, and are recognised accordingly.

We tell our stories to each other and share them with others using these beliefs as a focal point for reviewing our actions – to learn and keep ourselves accountable. In anecdotes we exchange about our work, accountability, agility, courage, excellence and synergy are essential elements that drive success or help us navigate through the challenges.

As 2016 draws to a close, many of us have been reflecting on our experiences over the last 12 months. A few of our fellow Leaderonomers have shared with us some thoughts about their respective journeys with Leaderonomics, each one referencing a core belief that particularly authenticated their work experience this year. These are their stories.

Be accountable

Prethiba EsvaryPrethiba Esvary
Assistant editor and writer, Leaderonomics Media

On my first day at Leaderonomics, I was told that I’d be part of the company’s internal eight-month Talent Acceleration Programme (TAP). As a new employee and fresh graduate, this was unexpected. I did not know what to expect. The outcome? I forged a bond with colleagues from different divisions; I learned about basic yet crucial aspects of business and finance; and my bosses got to observe first-hand my potential beyond writing and being assistant editor.

I can proudly say that I wake up every morning excited to come in to work, to learn and to see the people that I work with and relate to so well. Leaderonomics feels like home to me, and this fuels me to continue in what I do and strive to be better every day.

Because I work in a small team, I feel that it’s incredibly crucial that I try to be open and sensible about what I can and cannot commit to, as my decisions would affect the entire team.

Prethiba with her group mates Nadia Radhuan (left), Jesslyn Lai, and Kathleen Tan (right) for the TAP programme.

I’ve always been passionate about making a difference in the community around me. So, to be given that opportunity to write and curate content that impacts people, work alongside the corporate team in helping employers tell their stories in a meaningful way, and to work closely with the community department who reach out to youth directly, are things that help me find a deep sense of meaning in the work that I do.

Accountability to me means several things.

It means that I take ownership and responsibility for my work and actions. If I feel that I am unable to deliver on a particular task, I honestly communicate this to my team leader and provide an alternative. Because I work in a small team, I feel that it’s incredibly crucial that I try to be open and sensible about what I can and cannot commit to, as my decisions would affect the entire team.

Lastly – and I think this is a point that some may struggle with – being accountable means seeking feedback to challenge and improve oneself. I believe that at the end of the day we are all working towards one common goal, and if we’re not getting better together, we will get nowhere.

Be agile

Awatif GhaparAwatif Abdul Ghapar
Senior analyst, Leaderonomics Campus

Ever since I embarked on my professional journey at Leaderonomics, there has not been a day when I have not felt blessed. Not because things always go right, but because I know, regardless of all the ups and downs, that I have strong faith in getting through challenges with the organisation.

I am thankful to be in such a dynamic team where our differences are bridged by our values. Rather than dividing us, one of the beliefs that brings us together is our ability to Be Agile.

I am thankful to be in such a dynamic team where our differences are bridged by our values. Rather than dividing us, one of the beliefs that brings us together is our ability to Be Agile.

Many times, we have pulled through projects which came in at the eleventh hour. As a team, we brainstorm and move our plans quickly and effectively. We do so by leveraging on each other’s strengths to deliver the best to our clients and stakeholders. We constantly learn from each other and apply what we have learnt to our deliverables.

As a result, we had one of our greatest achievements this year – designing and delivering a Star Wars-themed developmental programme to a highly reputable client. We achieved this through our belief in going beyond expectations and delivering, to the best of our capability, something that we as a team could be proud of.

Campus team

Using the Force to develop great leaders!

As the programme manager, I was captivated by how the team came together on the ideas and execution from the beginning right to the end of the programme. I have a strong attachment to my team in Leaderonomics. I couldn’t ask for a better boss and team members; I am beyond grateful to be here.

Be courageous

Daniel LeeDaniel Lee
Youth programmes executive, Leaderonomics Youth

Being courageous means different things to everyone. To me, being courageous often means that I need to be ready to listen, discuss and seek out the opinion of others even when it may be uncomfortable.

Being courageous enough to seek out feedback that helps me improve has pushed me further along in my leadership journey.

The key ingredient to being courageous is to get out of our comfort zones. One of the biggest areas of growth I’ve experienced during my time with Leaderonomics is in reaching out to others for feedback and criticism. Being courageous enough to seek out feedback that helps me improve has pushed me further along in my leadership journey.

In our youth leadership camps, I’ve seen how being courageous can result in a total transformation of a youth’s mindset and attitude. One thing that I would always ask youths in the beginning of each camp is “Raise your hands if you think you are a leader.” Usually, only two or three out of a group of 70 youths would raise their hands. As each day goes by, I see the youths striving to break out of their comfort zones with the support of their facilitators. To be able to ask them the same thing again at the end of camp and seeing all of them raise their hands keeps me going.

One of the most unexpected joys I’ve encountered was in June.

There were a couple of campers who were homesick and had had an extremely challenging time breaking out of their shyness. It was so tough for them that they requested to go back home every night.

Daniel Lee

Lee having a group chat with young campers.

On the fourth day in camp, we had a session called “Breaking Boundaries” and the energy of every camper supporting and cheering for one another to break out of their comfort zones were almost electric! That night, we saw a breakthrough! They were joking with other campers despite their language barriers; their attitudes were different during sessions and they were confident enough to present their ideas on stage in front of panellists and the crowd. That is what I call courage! The best part of my job is the inspiration I get from these young people every day.

Be excellent

Divya ChandyDivya Mariam Chandy
Learning & growth partner, Leaderonomics Corporate Services

Here is a different take on excellence:
“Excellence is not a level of perfection we hit. It is your very best right now, and with what you have”. – Jad Gillies

Regardless of what the official meaning of “excellence” is, I believe this is how “excellence” in Leaderonomics is represented. From our Big Boss Roshan Thiran all the way to the freshest, youngest intern, we ask ourselves (and are constantly encouraged to ask ourselves) “how can we deliver our very best at this moment with the resources at our disposal?” Sometimes we fail, sometimes we miss the mark. But the important thing is the attitude and willingness to learn from it and to be better next time.

These are some of the people I’ve been privileged to worked with over the last five years . . . People who believe that no matter how young, we can be a force that brings the gospel of leadership to communities and organisations.

Through this, one can often see Leaderonomers going beyond their scope of duty to ensure that what is delivered is the very best. Sometimes that means cleaning up after an eight-year-old “client” who played a bit too hard after lunch. Sometimes it means spending extended hours coaching a client for free. Sometimes it involves going out of our way to help or cover for a colleague in distress without grumbling. And sometimes that just simply means grabbing a new toilet roll from the cabinet when we run out of suppplies, regardless what one’s job title might be.

These are some of the people I’ve been privileged to worked with over the last five years. People who are truly, madly, deeply invested in wanting to bring growth and change in the lives of others, at any cost. People who believe that no matter how young, we can be a force that brings the gospel of leadership to communities and organisations.

Divya, Audrey, Qhairyl, Nicholas

Divya (left) with her colleagues Audrey Tong, Qhairyl Iyzuan and Nicholas Chin, dressed up for their roles in the Leaderonomics DIODE Kids Camp earlier this month.

My favourite part about this whole deal is that I never have to feel alone in wanting to bring this level of excellence to work. There are colleagues who would journey with me through the highs and the lows, challenge and spur me on from one level of excellence to the next. Of course, we struggle and get frustrated at times but the idea is to remember that at any given time, to give our very best, right now, and with what we have.

Be synergistic

Chong Keat LimChong Keat Lim
VP, Leaderonomics Youth

One of the reasons for stress, I have discovered, is the feeling of being restricted or limited. On the contrary, being able to be involved in other initiatives brings a sense of freedom and excitements to work. It injects freshness to routines and mundaneness, and facilitates new learnings.

The team’s willingness to lead collaborative opportunities affirmed that we have each other’s back and are here for a purpose larger than just our own divisional goals.

What I like about the Be Synergistic belief is that it reminds me that we are all part of an important entity and contributor to the creative fusion we all share. At Leaderonomics, we are very intentional with this cultural practice where we actively invite (and sometimes volunteer) other team members to our programmes and projects.

Once, the Youth team was tied-up with the year-end camps preparation and we had this desperate request from a current client to help organise a community event for them during one of our busiest periods of the year. In the end, we saved ourselves from disappointing the client, thanks to volunteers from the corporate division who offered to lead the entire project on our behalf, even though they have no prior experience whatsoever!

While they were provided guidance and feedback leading to the project execution day, I believe it’s their attitude and motivation that made the working experience special for everyone involved. The team’s willingness to lead collaborative opportunities affirmed that we have each other’s back and are here for a purpose larger than just our own divisional goals.

Chong Keat Lim

Chong (centre) sharing a laugh with DIODE campers.

When I see my colleagues facilitating in DIODE camps – taking on responsibilities clearly outside of their immediate roles – I see how we are engaged in a play of creating and transforming individual experiences, everyday life and social relations, where we each, bring to the table, our own special gifts to offer to the transformation of the nation.

And the beauty is to awaken to this possibility every time we practice Be Synergistic, every single day.

This might interest you: Our values and core beliefs

Louisa is a freelance writer with Leaderonomics and is a psychology major. She believes the time to change and be greater than you’ve ever been is now. All profile shots were taken by James LSY. To reach out to Louisa, email louisa.allycyn@leaderonomics.com

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