Building Trust in the Workplace
Trust is the foundation of any strong working relationship, but it can be hard to build and even harder to sustain. If you can build trust with your coworkers, you’ll have a much smoother path to success.
In episode 1 of Agile Leaders Conversations, hear from Daryl Chew, Regional Information Security Officer on his insights from ‘8 Paradoxes of Leadership Agility’, and how some paradoxes will help leaders learn to view trust and relationships in the workplace differently.
Connect with Daryl Chew at https://www.linkedin.com/in/darylchew-sg/
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Daryl Chew: I think that’s where the human factor really comes in. Especially when you’re talking about leadership. I feel it is really important to understand people first before you start talking about work and professional life. So, I always find that it’s good to just catch up with people, person to person, human to human. Because after all, we are all human beings. We all are emotional creatures.
Chuen Chuen Yeo: Welcome to agile leaders, conversations where executives, business leaders and experts from all sectors come together and share leadership insights around leading in today’s workplaces. They will be sharing some tips on how they use the agile mindset to make sense of the complexities and lead with authenticity and ease.
Chuen Chuen Yeo: My name is Chuen Chuen and I’m an author, executive coach for the fortune 500, a speaker and a leadership consultant. I specialize in agile leadership, helping organizations achieve success by first growing the agile mindset so that they can be more responsive to consumer and employee needs. I’m so happy to have you listening in to this episode of agile leaders conversations.
Chuen Chuen Yeo: And today my guest is Mr. Daryl Chew, a regional information security officer. I’ll hand over the time to Daryl to share more about himself.
Daryl Chew: Thanks for having me. It’s great to be part of this sessions to discuss leadership with you around your new book, of course. And many congratulations around that.
Daryl Chew: For me, as a regional information security officer, I look after the governance of information security and protecting data within the company. Whether it’s physical hard copies or digital documents. I look after everything with information security for the entire region. And that covers Australia, Singapore, and China predominantly.
Chuen Chuen Yeo: Great to have you. Data protection and information security is something very top of mind for everyone, especially now with COVID 19 situation. Most companies in fact are moving to work from home, so the amount of virtual meetings that are going on. Having those very sensitive conversations with lots of P&C information, I think that’s really important.
8 Paradoxes of Leadership Agility: An Eye Opener
Chuen Chuen Yeo: So Daryl thanks so much for reading my book. Just wondering, what are your general thoughts?
Daryl Chew: I thought it was a really great eye opener. And it was a book that stood out as something that broke down what leadership was all about. And to give those little insights and views whether or not it is from the perspective of a leader or someone aspiring to be a leader, or those perhaps comfortable at the working level.
Daryl Chew: I think it really breaks down to what is going through the minds of all these people as they work through this journey towards leadership. How they want to see themselves leading teams, including their struggles. So that’s what I like about it. And I thought, having seen all of these challenges laid bare, all the emotions that come along with it. It brings a raw sense of authenticity which is what I like when I read this book.
Chuen Chuen Yeo: That’s great to hear. You pointed out one very important point, which is the emotions do come into play. Although we are in a world where we highly value logical thinking and being analytical, and we say, “Oh, stop being emotional. Be logical.” But we know in the business of leading people and working with people who are very unlike us, most of the time, it’s the emotions that impacts the team performance or even the organization.
Daryl Chew: You’re absolutely right. That’s where the human factor really comes in. Especially when you’re talking about leadership I feel it’s really important to understand people first, before you start talking about work and professional life. So, I always find that it is good to just catch up with people, person to person, human, to human, because after all we are all human beings. We all are emotional creatures. If we don’t take that opportunity to get to know somebody a little bit better to understand who they are. Where they come from. It really lays the path before you, in terms of further interactions with them down the stream. Because if you don’t do this, you tend to find the interactions with them very much cold and transactional.
Chuen Chuen Yeo: We need much more of the human interaction and being human centered, rather than just people centered.
Daryl Chew: Absolutely.
Enforcing vs Empowering: A Paradox that Resonates the Most
Chuen Chuen Yeo: So I was wondering Daryl, was there a particular paradox in the book that resonated very strongly with you?
Daryl Chew: Yeah, there was. I really liked paradox seven (Enforcing vs Empowering.) And this is something that really resonated with me purely because of my experiences in my professional career as a consultant.
Daryl Chew: Last time, what I used to do when I was a junior cybersecurity practitioner, I would go in and perform audits for people – an assessment type of work where you parachute in. You understand what the scope is. You run an assessment for them against some kind of standard or regulation. And then you present the findings to them.
Daryl Chew: And often, what I felt over the years as I progressed, was that the manner in which they would respond to me would increasingly become more and more agitated, irritated, and it would just cause a lot of friction for them. And I realized that along the way, this can’t go on. And I had to find out what I could do differently because every single client from many different industries were pretty much responding in the same way.
Daryl Chew: So I figured it probably had to be me as stubborn person as I can be. It probably had to be me that had to change. Instinctively, we always look towards other people around us, who are more successful in these types of interactions. So I did look to a friend and colleague. I went to him and I said, Hey! How do you actually get cozy with your clients? You always seem very friendly with them, and you get along well with them. He said Daryl, “One of the things that I like to do when I go and visit a client is to go and see his work space. That’s where I said, “why do you like to go and see their workspace? What can you possibly find out from there?” “let me show you.” So we went over to a particular person’s desk and he says, “Daryl what do you see? Tell me.” So I said to him, “Okay, I see a person. They have a photo frame of a significant other or family, or they’ve got drawings of their kids. Perhaps it could be certificates, trophies and other accolades.” And he said to me, ” All these observations are bits and pieces of their lives. You can draw from these items to strike up a conversation with the people. Because everybody likes to talk about themselves. If you give them that opportunity to talk about themselves, to share a little bit more about themselves, this is where you get that human interaction, and the emotions coming out. And these are of course, positive emotions in building that relationship with them.” This is where your paradox seven (Enforcing vs Empowering) comes in.
Daryl Chew: When they know you as a person because you obviously exchange information about yourself with them as well throughout the course of that relationship building process. You have a relationship at a very basic yet personal level. So, when you go to them at a professional level to interact with them. Request certain things of them. I found that subsequently, they are actually more than willing to come and help you. You understand what are their intentions? What are their motivations behind their professional activities and work that has been assigned or allocated to them. With that, you can build your interactions around that kind of understanding.
Daryl Chew: If you know that this person’s KPIs for this year are heavily dependent on what you get from them. So you obviously having done your homework and understood them, that this is their goal for the year. That anything that you want to do is to try and help them achieve that KPI and say, “Hey, I remember you shared with me that time you have a KPI that you need to meet for this year. It’s gonna make you look good. If you help me, I will also help you. And I think, it’s a win-win situation, and we will both come out better off in following these interactions.
Daryl Chew: I think really, get off the back of personal relationships to empower those people to show them that you are a person as they are. We are both here to do our jobs, but at the same time we can enjoy the process. It doesn’t have to be very cold and transactional.
Chuen Chuen Yeo: I really like this story. I think you demonstrate a lot of these building relationships. Of course, in my course of work I meet clients who are very personal. They’re very private. They’re worried that people will know too much about their families, but at the same time, I think most people seek to be understood. They want other people to know a little bit about themselves, and they shared a little piece of their authentic self with others. So I can hear that when you engage these people, even if it’s the first time you have met them, you are truly there listening and trying to understand and really empathizing.
Chuen Chuen Yeo: It’s not just for a motive or objective you’re trying to achieve. It is that genuine interest in wanting to know another human being. And from there, that created a lot of good will a lot of common ground. And you realize that there are ways for you to fulfill both your objectives, such is a win-win situation.
Daryl Chew: Yep. Absolutely. In fact, there are many times where I had a half hour session with somebody, and we spent maybe 15- 20 minutes talking about each other and just personal things other than work. And then when we get to the last 10 minutes, we are really clear about what the objectives are. Sometimes even if the entire session goes towards just getting to know each other, I really don’t think it’s wasted. Some people tend to think that, you wasted your time chit chatting and talking to the person. But actually it goes a long way.
Daryl Chew: And like you say, that goodwill you’ve been able to build up. It pays forward for itself. So when you come to have those future interactions, they know what you’re all about. They don’t need to spend time thinking about you as some kind of skeptic. It really just makes the whole journey much easier when you connect with people on a personal level.
Chuen Chuen Yeo: Yeah. It sounds like a worthy investment. And nowadays, when we talk about investments, maybe we are just talking about financial, but what you’re seeing is, that when we invest, we are investing our time, our attention to build relationships. And that’s actually our currency to bring changes that can be quite difficult for others, but with goodwill on our side, it makes the changes easier for everyone.
Daryl Chew: Yep. That’s right.
Leadership, Agility, and Paradoxes
Chuen Chuen Yeo: So there was also a definition of leadership agility and of paradoxes in the book. So from your lens as someone in security. I’m wondering, how do you see leadership agility and paradoxes from your point of view?
Daryl Chew: I think with leadership agility is something that has really just come up into the industry. I really think the agility just speaks to somebody who is able to be flexible in many ways to just go with the flow because there are many changes and there are many evolutions that can come along in professional lives. Whether it’s the working activities or whether it’s company structures that get shaken up and things like that. This agility is the new buzzword to bring about the whole understanding of people in the workforce who has that ability to think on their feet and be able to adapt to any kind of changing situation. So for me, as somebody who is a practitioner in the information security world. It is something that we have always been exposed to in a sense because when you look at information security, you’re talking about data protection, privacy and ensuring all of these things click and into place.
Daryl Chew: But when you look at the adversaries, there are people out there. We can never predict what they’re going to do next. Where are they going to come from. And in that very nature, you can never be sure as to when something is gonna happen, if it’s gonna happen, and who is going to be doing those things to you.
Daryl Chew: So those days are the same, obviously for our industry. Some days can be really quiet. Other days can be really busy because something happened. And when those things do happen, you need to be able to think fast on your feet and to have that agility, as you say. Even when it comes to putting in the leadership aspect side of things. When adverse things happen, people tend to panic.
Daryl Chew: And if you are as an aspiring leader or a current leader, you are supposed to be the one directing things. Reassuring the people. You need to be the one to be able to think fast on your feet. To remain calm and help people understand the situation.
Daryl Chew: What it is that they need to do, and what they ought to know. Give them all that information, so that they can easily digest. And then logically think about this in a manner and not panic. So for me, in terms of information security, we do see the need, and we evolved together with the industry. And if some fire starts burning, then we need to attend to it, and assess the situation quickly to determine what are the next steps. How do we then respond?
Chuen Chuen Yeo: This is a good example in real life. If I may summarize, I think I hear you say that it is about going with the flow and evolving. A lot of people, when they think about leadership agility, they think that it’s just this huge transformation that you’re going to go through. And then suddenly, you just flick your fingers and tomorrow you’re gonna emerge like a totally different person. But it is actually an evolutionary process thing. You are changing bit by bit every day based on what is happening in your situation.
Chuen Chuen Yeo: And I like that very nice balance between whether you are reacting or responding. So while it’s important to come up with a fool proof plan as much as possible. Air tight plan, there’s also no end to preempting what can really happen. So there’s that balance between, can we act fast when the fire starts burning? But at the same time, can we also have a really good plan when all the possible scenarios that could arise in your field?
Chuen Chuen Yeo: One other thing that stood out to me was the emphasis on communication. Because leading at the forefront, typical reaction is to panic. That’s why we have the change theory and the change curve. There’s a positive one, there’s a negative one, but most people will go through some form of dip, indenial or anger. Those emotional responses first.
How to Guide Like a North Star
Chuen Chuen Yeo: Being the person in charge, how do you give people the necessary information, guidelines or even the north star, so that they know how to make decisions and move ahead?
Daryl Chew: Yeah, absolutely. For me, communication is really big. And I think one of the biggest things as a leader you can do in addition to building that personal relationship is to constantly be in communication with your stakeholders and those people around you.
Daryl Chew: I’ve always been someone who has developed in the professional world as communicating with everybody. And the simplest form is almost in every single email that I send out. It will be copied to somebody that I feel it will be relevant for them to either they are actively involved or maybe it is just good FYI for them in any case. It’s always good these days. We do get bombarded with emails. If we see it, at least we will have a general gist and an idea. And this is what is useful for everybody to give them that visibility and some slight insights to the bigger picture of what is happening. Some people tend to think of it as, this is my boss checking up on me, or this is people checking up on me, but actually we’re talking about leadership here. You need to put that thought aside as to people are always looking for fault with me, or respond in some kind of negative manner.
Daryl Chew: If people know what you’re about, and they see these emails constantly coming from you, they’re not going to think, “They’re all sending emails again, trying to show he’s a good leader, acting busy.” That sort of stuff. They will actually know.” Okay. This is the reason why he’s sending it to me for,” and of course you open that two way communication. For example, if they might not want to receive it from you, then of course, then you don’t include them, subsequently. But I think it’s really important to maintain that kind of communication with them.
Daryl Chew: Like we’ve been saying, whether it’s on the personal side or the professional side of things. Just having that constant communication flow. Even just to check in with people sometimes, Hi, how are you? Especially during these COVID times. It could make all the difference to people, and it does make all the difference that people can see that you have genuine care and concern for them.
Daryl Chew: Therefore in the course of work, they know it. And if you are in a position of leadership, they will tend to gravitate towards you, being led by you in a sense. So without having to tell them, “You are my subordinate. You go and do the work that I allocate to you.
Daryl Chew: If you can approach it in that manner with that open two way communication, I’ve always found that tends to work very well.
Daryl Chew: This is really nice. Dr. John Maxwell has this five levels of leadership, and I think a lot of leaders out there, the first thing they need to recognize is that the very first level of leadership is permission. We have to be given permission by our followers. They are not gonna follow just because I’m the head. So this is really key. And one thing that you said Daryl which really got my attention was the communication bit. So I’m wondering, how do you communicate such that your team can be agile? Is there a structure around it?
Open Channel Communication – The Key for a Team to be Agile
Daryl Chew: I don’t really think there’s a structure per se. It’s more a common understanding. So even for myself and my team, and like I was sharing a little earlier about how we have an open channel of communication. We copy each other into various emails and things where we feel is relevant for each other to be involved in. Other ways in which we do it now of course, leveraging technology.
Daryl Chew: And with all this work from home and mid- COVID. We, in our company use teams, and we collaborate on that platform. Whether it’s leaving a chat message for them to see later because we span across many different time zones around the globe. In addition to just communicating via email, we jump on weekly calls at the least to catch up with each other and see what each other is doing. It’s also the forum for which we seek help from each other and support when we need it. So, I think we have this dialogue and protocol that’s ongoing, where we are always constantly communicating.
Daryl Chew: So, to me it is no secret formula. You do really need to have that open communication and understanding. Establish that protocol with your teams and with the rest of your stakeholders. So that everybody is on the same page, the same wavelength. They understand how things ought to be run within the team and how we are going to run together.
Daryl Chew: Because if you are gonna be a team, you do need to run together. You need to be agile together in order to respond to changing and evolving situations. And the only way you can do this successfully is to have that good communication structure.
Chuen Chuen Yeo: I can see the connection between this and one of the paradoxes in the book, executing versus inspiring. While you may already have the protocols in place. There is a very strong common page that is in your team. Everyone will know that we are communicating on Microsoft Teams. All messages that I put out is going to relevant to you. So nobody will be, “Oh, I don’t wanna read this. I will skip this.” And then there will be a gap in the information flow.
Chuen Chuen Yeo: So everyone at the same wavelength, I think that is really the basis inspiring people to all move towards the same direction. Because there’s really no end to detailed and granular you can go in terms of giving people’s instructions. Giving them direction is much more important.
An Advice to Veterans in the Field of Information Security
Chuen Chuen Yeo: What’s your advice to veteran aspiring leaders. Perhaps people in your field in information security?
Daryl Chew: I think specific to information security. And I guess for those veterans, and I guess, I’m in the middle where I straddle the older veterans in the industry versus the people who are up and coming in the industry. Information security as you would be aware, it’s risen together with how the internet has come about from the early 90’s all the way through. So long as the Internet’s been around, there have always been bad guys and adversaries out there looking to try to take advantage for some kind of gain. And there lies the need to have information security people on board to look at these things specifically, and to ensure appropriate data protection.
Daryl Chew: What my advice to aspiring leaders in the industry would be, to take the time to really build the relationships to listen to people. Though, you’ll be the one to do many assessments where you are in a position of sharing with people. Where are their vulnerabilities? Where are their gaps? Where can they make improvements?
Daryl Chew: It is also not your place to be preaching to them and telling them what they should or shouldn’t do. That was the mistake that I made and I learned the hard way, unfortunately. But it has also put me in a better position to where I am now. But having said that, it is really important to learn to build that relationship with them. So it is been the key thing that we’ve been talking about here today. And I really feel that it is the crux of the matter in terms of leadership and not just agility as well. But really, earlier in my career, I used to shun all these coffee sessions, networking sessions, going to lunch. Always talking about anything else under the sun, except for work and with no interest in building relationships that I could leverage in the professional arena.
Daryl Chew: So my advice, even if it’s 15 minutes, 20 minutes. Have that coffee, that tea, or that drink with the person. Sit down and build that relationship with them. If you need to because now we are all distanced apart, have a call with them. Just check in with them. See how they’re going.
Daryl Chew: That goes a long way to build that relationship with them. I guess for veterans ensure that they don’t let their heads get too big. Make sure that they don’t think that they know everything already in the industry that they’ve seen everything out there.
Daryl Chew: That’s always the worst timing when your guard is seemingly down because you think that I’ve got everything down. I’ve put up all my fortresses. I’ve put up all my processes and things like that. So I should be good. I should be safe. My environment should be, ready for any kind of attack.
Daryl Chew: So that’s therein lies that complacency. Whether in the professional world or in our own personal lives, we should never be complacent when it comes to information security and much much more so for the veterans in the industry. So we need to keep evolving.
Daryl Chew: I think now that I say them out aloud, I’m already thinking that all of these very good foundational principles and activities they apply to every kind of industry, you need to keep up with what’s happening. So it is always to ensure that you keep building those relationships that you already have. Continue to make new ones because of course, you are the more experienced person in the industry. It doesn’t mean that because I’ve got my five good friends in the industry that I can always depend on.
Daryl Chew: You always need to have new contacts to give you new injections of ideas, perspectives and to also keep you in touch with the industry. Also make sure you have a list of contacts and networks that span those who are maybe around you or perhaps the more junior ones. So I think it really is important on both fronts, whether you are an aspiring leader or whether you are a veteran in the field. There is always constant evolution that is required.
Chuen Chuen Yeo: I think evolution is the word that’s on top of mind for you because you said it so many times. So if I summarize, it is that continuing to expand your network because that is investing in relationships that will payoff in the future. And for the veterans, keep learning because complacency, is probably one of the biggest enemy for a lot of people. If a person becomes complacent, then the growth will stop. Then the evolution will stop. Then like a dinosaur, we will become extinct.
Daryl Chew: Yes. That’s absolutely right.
Chuen Chuen Yeo: Thanks so much Daryl for sharing all these stories with us, I think a lot of people whom I connect with, said, the best gift leaders give to them is to share their personal stories and their learning, so thanks for your time today.
Daryl Chew: Thank you Chuen Chuen. Thanks for having me and congratulations on your book.
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