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Agile Leaders Conversations

Agile Leaders Conversations Ep 17 – Mr Raymond Tay, Change Coach, HR Leader

Every leader has a preferred style of leading but is that your winning formula? As your organization evolves, there’s a need to check yourself and your environment to verify that your formula will help you continue to win.

In this episode of Agile Leaders Conversations, I interview Change Coach and Human Resource Leader, Mr Raymond Tay for his views. Hear his advice to develop your winning leadership formula.

Connect with Raymond Tay at https://www.linkedin.com/in/raymondtay/

YOUTUBE VIDEO

TRANSCRIPT 

Raymond Tay 

I personally believe that if we can make a difference, then I will try my best to empower and inspire my team to do it. To do it with me, and only my style, I will show them and present first. So once they see how I do it or learn the content of what I cover, then they can do it by themselves.

 

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 complexity and lead with authenticity and ease. Hi, everyone. Welcome to this episode of Agile leaders conversations. My name is Chuen Chue and I’m an author and executive coach for the fortune 500. I’m also a speaker and facilitator. I specialise in leadership agility, helping organisations and leaders grow the agile mindset so that they can sustain the success in both life and career. And I’m happy to have Mr. Raymond Tay in this episode of Agile leaders conversations. Now let me share with you a little about my guest. Raymond is an HR professional. And for more than a decade, Raymond has been involved in human capital development for both youth and adult professionals. He has worked with numerous organisations from both public and private sectors, and developed many tailored evidence based learning solutions for adult learners in the areas of leadership, creativity and innovation, personality profiling, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution and team building. Wow, so many areas. And here’s a fun fact about Raymond. He’s also a change coach, and a clinical hypnotherapist. Now Raymond, would you like to share a few words about yourself?

 

Raymond Tay 

For me, personally, I have the passion to help people. That’s why I pick up quite a number of instruments and methodology to help others so like change management, hypnotherapy, emotional intelligence, or even sometimes conflict resolution, mediation. Yeah. So those are, I’ll say, skill set for me to … sometimes it can be also helping myself. So sometimes before we help others, we also help ourselves to help others. So those skill set, technology can allow us to empower others to unleash, hopefully, unleash their potential. Another side of me will be what you have introduced will be in human resource. So it’s also quite aligned, because humans also work with people coming out with policy that will impact the work life of our colleagues. And policy can, of course, can attract talent, if we make the policy attractive in a way, increasing the remuneration, increase the welfare, or increase the budget for team bonding, increase the develop our leaders, so that they can connect and give relevant feedback or constructive feedback to their staff. So those elements of HR can really transform the workplace and improve the working relationship in the organisation.

 

Chuen Chuen Yeo 

Yeah, this is great to hear. Really great to hear, because I think we are all now right now talking about building back better and I think HR has the instrumental role to play in making workplaces better. So I invited Raymond to the show because he read my book, the eight paradoxes of leadership agility. So I’m wondering, Raymond, what are your thoughts of the book after reading it?

 

Raymond Tay 

So that (the book) give another dimension to leadership. Because leadership, there are so many framework, models, so it’s nice to know about know more about leadership agility, especially in today’s world, agility will really help us in managing and navigating changes. As we know that we are working with a diverse workforce, different people prefer to be led, I’ll say differently, some people may want to be inspired. Some people may want to be instructed. Some people will want us to focus on the teams, but some people want us to deepen our relationship and connection on a one on one basis. So I think from your book, will give us the different dimension of how a leader can act, because staying put in any of this dimension for long, never making changes, learn to be agile, then we may be stuck with certain leadership style that sometimes in the past may have worked for us. I think in your case study and coaching, you have also helped them if our strength can become our weaknesses, as the organisation move on, or that will change of people. Because change how people change organisation, the winning formula may change. So the winning winning formula for leadership stops or may change. Just like our politician, our leaders, you can see the style of leadership change from domineering to more consultative, or facilitative.

 

Chuen Chuen Yeo 

So many good points, I want to just have summarise them for all the listeners. So my Raymond is saying yet is that your winning formula will change according to the life cycle of the organisation we see happen in politics, in businesses in government organisations everywhere. So there’s something for everyone to take note, what is your winning formula right now. And your strengths can become your weaknesses. And I think that one big point that was that I think is really important for all leaders to you know, be mindful of, we are dealing with a diverse workforce, and everyone wants to be led in a different way, some may want to be empowered, some want to be directed some value a lot more than relationship, some wants you to focus on the team. So it is very important for leaders to be able to flex the styles. And as Raymond as you were talking, I can sense that there probably were a couple of paradoxes that resonated with you strongly. So, could you share more on perhaps just one.

 

Raymond Tay 

Definitely there are quite a number of paradoxes that made me reflect. Yeah, because even myself, I think each of us have our own preference of leading. So, your paradox have also let us reflect on what are the possibility and also challenge us not to be stuck in one area or one dimension. Yeah. So for me, I think one paradox that stands up or sometimes is like a dilemma for myself to be enforcing and versus empowering. Enforcing and empowering, I think, because I also lead a team. So at times, I will not I need to see if I should instruct and enforce my staff to do the things or should I spend a bit more time to empower them to tell them the why. Yeah. So, in my own experiences, for those things, that are becoming more routine, like for example, in my work area is processing certain applications, preparing documents. So once some things are more routine and predictable, I will say that my style is more enforcing. But I wouldn’t say though, use the word enforcing I think it sounds like I’m a policeman. So more is like  if my staff is not doing it, I will remind in a way, more like reminding, have you done this? can you send a reminder to the stakeholders? Yeah. So, it’s more like reminding rather than using I think use the word as enforcing. So that is slightly more gentle. Empowering will be I think, avoid more on those words that are a bit more ambiguous. Also there are certain work that we are not sure is it that by our team or to be done by another team. So when these things happen, then I will say people will be uncertain – should they do it or should they not do it? So then there is a point where I need to be more inspiring and empowering. If I believe that this piece of work can help us. For example, in my work, we need to communicate and attract talent. So when they come and attach to our organisation. So for those students attached to our organisation, we need to have some time to attract them. So in fact, that can be done by my team or can be done by another team. I felt that if we can do our part to connect so we can help to attract more talent. So when I personally believe that We can make a difference, then I will try my best to empower and inspire my team to do it. To do it with me, and only my style, I will show them and present first. So once they see how I do it, or let the content of what I cover, then they can do by themselves. So in summary, I think those work that is routine and predictable, more on reminding, getting things done and don’t require so much, in a way communication or communicating why because the staff already knows why they are doing it, because that is our bread and butter. Only when (we have) new work. When we go into a new space, where also when the work is ambiguous, then I think that part, leaders need to give clarity on what we need to do. And whether our team will do  it or not. If you want to do it, then you need to provide a stronger why.

 

Chuen Chuen Yeo 

Wow, nice. I like this. So many good points. Again, I want to recap them. You’re saying enforcing versus empowering. And I think when you don’t quite connect with the word enforcing is also tells a lot about your personal style, which I feel is very people oriented. Right. And I think what you are also saying that enforcing versus empowering. There’s no never one fixed style, because it is a range of possibilities. And it’s important that leaders are not stuck in using just one style. And I think you also pointed out something that’s very pertinent these days, right? Common. There’s a lot of ambiguity, a lot of grey areas, new job responsibility pops up. But it’s not always clear. whose responsibility is that. And when that happens, if it’s beneficial to the team, provide a strong why for people and make it clear, and that might be a little bit more enforcing in that approach. Because you want to lay down clearly Why are we doing this? And how does success look like? And another thing you said that caught my attention, I think not to mis-apply what empowerment means. Because as you’re saying, there was a clear process of how you get people up to speed before you empower them to do things. In my coaching practice. I do come across sometimes, you know, leaders who say oh, I’m going to empower them, but actually we are throwing them into the deep end. And different people want different things. Some people love the exploration and swimming in the deep end and learning how to do things on their own. But some people will feel totally overwhelmed. So in essence, I think there’s another naunce that will be beneficial for leaders to check it out. And to really see, you know, in this situation in this scenario, is it better than I take a more enforcing stance or more empowering stance? That, if I’m empowering, how am I doing it. Wanna hear from you, what’s your definition of leadership agility? I mean, I kept my definition in the book, simple intentionally, because I think there’s so many ways for us to see. So I’m interested to hear how you define leadership agility through your lens,

 

Raymond Tay 

One of the key word or synonym to agility, I think is flexibility. Yeah, so even the word, adaptability. So that could be my own way of defining agility, to be flexible and adaptable. So in that aspect is because in the world that we live in, as we have also mentioned, it’s uncertain. A lot of people describe it as volatile, uncertain, ambiguous. So all these terms that people use to describe our environment. So when this is the environment that we are living with, or living in, then we have to be agile, to be able to navigate and find new ways of working, new ways of leading, and even adopt technology to help us. But that actually plays a huge challenge for leaders. Because all of us have our own, perhaps primary or dominant style. So, all leaders will face this challenge. It’s not so easy to flex at times. So it can be as simple as if a person is an introvert, introvert leaders, how can you transform that person to become an extrovert leader, to be able to connect, make small talk to be out there to to build relationships for introverted leaders. So it would be tougher. It’s tough. Yeah. So of course, then it will be a journey where it’s a personal development journey for all of us to make small improvement. So even like in extraversion introversion, there’s a middle term known as ambivert. People who are ambivert, in the middle. But even the best of both worlds they also had their own primary and secondary style. Yeah. So So our say that it’s tough and it’s not easy for us to be agile even though, Yes, we have like, for example, read Chuen Chuen’s book on the eight paradoxes. Even we understand that eight paradoxes, do you think it’s easy for us to, for someone who has been enforcing so much in their past life, do they can they now switch and become an empowering. It’s not an instant switch that people can make. So that’s definitely that’s why we need coaches. So even myself, I’m a coach to help people to transform their own personal struggle to personal wins. So psychological, conscious and unconscious minds, we need to both be aligned. Because I have worked with clients consciously, logically, they know this is not the right way. But emotionally, they do other things.

 

Chuen Chuen Yeo 

Yeah, that’s why you know, hypnotherapy can be very powerful. It’s something in the subconscious is inhibiting them, stopping them from adopting the so called more productive behaviour and flex their style.

 

Raymond Tay 

Another thing that we need to be mindful of is our habits. Our habits already have been formed. So if you want to change our habits, the way we work is like our habits. So it’s been changed the way we work to be more principled, to be more agile. So we have to change our habits, and changing habits. We all know this it’s not easy.

 

Chuen Chuen Yeo 

Right, like changing mindsets. So I think in the market, people talk about agility, they ask me, “Chuen Chuen, what do you do?” Why is agility agility refers to the mindset. So it’s anonymous with the agile mindset. And my observation is out there in a lot of leadership development programmes, they focus on skills without adequately addressing the mindset. And I think Raymond you are right, in pointing out that just by reading a book, How much can you change? How much can you undo years of habits, and that’s where in the book, that’s why it’s designed as a kind of like a workbook where you have questions to bring you through. And I think that it depends on individual’s level of self awareness and ability to reflect. But of course, there are always professionals like you and I, who will be always there to support leaders through this transformation. And for different people, how they transform will be different. Like it could be a professional coaching, like what I do, and what Raymond does as well, or it could be more in depth, and what Raymond does for clients who needs hypnotherapy because like I myself, I’ve gone through that process, and it was truly transformational. Before we conclude this interview, I want to hear from you. What do you think HR professionals should consider as it builds back up a better HR post pandemic?

 

Raymond Tay 

I think… as we know, that many organisation has, during the last year, many organisations had gone into remote working work from home. So I think the critical part of what is missing, perhaps now will be increase the engagement, increase the team bonding, cohesion, and increase the level of communication, especially from the top management where they have come up with some new plans, new initiative that has to be communicated down to the last men. And normally that is also where, sometimes there isn’t there is a gap, whether the last men has heard what is the plan of the top men. So like, in a recent month, I also attended one dialogue session where this social service leader has shared that the challenge of any strategic plan will be just make sure that the strategic plan don’t stay in the meeting room, or don’t stay in the office of the ‘top men’. Like I we know that there’s certain confidentiality in terms of some plans, but once it’s approved and endorsed, it’s better to cascade and communicate, not still stay in the meeting room, in the boardroom or the office. So there’s a need to increase the communication and publicity. Yeah, so there’s another part of change management where it’ll come up with communications plan.

 

Chuen Chuen Yeo 

Sure, sure, a more thorough, more robust one, such as the very last person gets that bing direction like what are we doing right now?

 

Raymond Tay 

Sometime, it’s not a complicated thing. This time we asked ourselves how many times we need to know, or even our own like government, when they call a new policy? How do we how can we ensure that every citizen know the policy, or know that plan? Make really, it’s not rocket science, so make sure that the top leader communicates, come up with a video or come up with publicity, flyers or posters, emailers. So all these things is not rocket science. It has to be done. Maybe put up banners, infographics, so all these things will help to communicate the plan.

 

Chuen Chuen Yeo 

Agree. Agree. I think one telltale sign for leaders listening right now, if you frequently find yourself asking this question, “But they should know. Do they know are we working towards they should know.” Once you use the word they should – I assume that they know, that’s an assumption. Right. And that’s something not going well with a communication plan. Because so many times I mean, after working with hundreds of leaders, like you said, it’s not rocket science. It’s so common sensical, but it’s not done. It’s not done enough, we are not communicating in multiple ways, we are not flexing our communication style, we are only communicating in one single way. And like what Raymond said, every leader has a dominant style has a preferred style. And that applies to communication as well. And if we can be a flexible, agile communicator, we will be able to close all the gaps to ensure that a strategic brand doesn’t just stay in the meeting room. Yeah. Do you think there’s any particular initiatives that HR should consider right now as they move towards post pandemic?

 

Raymond Tay 

There are certain practices and core function of what HR need to do, as well as actually once we do those core function and businesses that we need to do, it should be helping rather is it post or pre COVID. So staff engagement, for example, when a post or pre is always there. So obviously, when we come up with three years, five years plan is always there, whether you post or pre COVID, that’s always planning and improvement work need to be done. So and communication has to be there, ongoing. So it’s not something that is new, it is just that perhaps either we need to do more, or be willing to try new things or new ways of communicating, or to ensure that everyone feels connected, The main thing in any organisation is made sure that everyone feel passionate and connected with the organisation a sense of belonging. So I will say that and post pandemic will be bringing back the sense of belonging to everyone in the organisation.

 

Chuen Chuen Yeo 

Yeah, this is good to hear is the emotional part, right, Raymond. You know, saying or make sure they achieve good outcomes. It’s a sense of belonging, passion, motivated, which I think this is why you and I can ‘click’, I think, because we are people oriented. And I think that’s once leaders need to consider right now. I mean, even the first paradox and now tasks versus people through the people that are leaders become successful. So we need to think of how are we going to engage people better, such that they will strive towards the great outcomes, we’re not saying the outcomes are not important, they’re still important, but the way we get to wait is through engaging the people. Right, great. Now I’m sure right now listeners, viewers will be interested to know more about Raymond and I’ll include Raymond  social links in the show notes, so please feel free to reach out to him. And I encourage you to grab a copy of the eight paradoxes of leadership agility that’s available in all print and digital formats globally, or even the blueprint from my website. So really good to have you on this show, Raymond and let’s keep in touch.

 

Raymond Tay 

Thank you, Chuen Chuen.

 

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