During TEC X. From Left: Mr. Idham, Dato' Syed Zainal Abidin (PROTON MD), Faris (me), Mui'd, Mr. Haniff (MPP President)

“That which is on earth We have made but as a glittering show for the earth, in order that We may test them–as to which of them are best in conduct.” (Al Kahf 18: 7)

One of the great advantages of giving service is gaining abundant of experience. I was part of Convofair committee in its 2008 and 2009 editions as the committee of Ceremony and Protocol Department and later as the head of that department. I was also the head of Ceremony and Protocol Department in an event called Technology, Education and Career (TEC) 2009. This year, I served as the Project Manager for its 10th anniversary edition. What I learned as a leader of that organizations or events was priceless. It would take years of seminars, classes and hundreds or even thousands of ringgit worth of coaching to equal the leadership experience and knowledge acquired. It was a totally mesmerizing experience in UTP that I will never forget.

If I can conclude it in one sentence, I would say “You shine as a leader when you empower and enable every individual on your team to shine.” But it is just not enough. In learning, to know and to believe are just not good enough. Give it a taste, then only you can say you understand it well. Here, I’m glad to share with you a few lessons that I’ve learnt throughout my endeavour in UTP for the past 3 years.

Manage Up, Mentor Down

As Project Manager, I was accountable to the members of the organization and had a total power to decide on anything. In this position, one can be tempted to rule with an iron fist because you can have a say on everything. In HICOM, even though others have a right to voice out anything, in the end, you are the one who decide. Sometime you can entrust the responsibility to others but you can always state a policy that you are in the end of every decision. However, that method doesn’t benefit anyone.

“Three things are part of the good morals of a believer. When he is overcome by anger, his anger should not drive him to falsehood. When he is happy, his happiness should not take him beyond the bounds of what is right. When he has power, he should not stake a claim to something which is not his.” (At-Tirmidhi, on the Authority of Anas Ibn Malik)

I found it beneficial to adopt the mantra, “manage up, mentor down.” When you are someone’s manager, team leader or boss, your job is to enable that person to be successful. When your committees are successful, they make you shine. As a manager, it is your responsibility to provide the resources, and direction needed by your subordinate.

Let’s say you are a head of a Sponsorship Department. You’ve met with your clients and received their expectations and details. Rather than lord over your team members to ensure that every “i” is dotted and every “t” crossed, you can let them know that precision is extremely important to this client and ask them what they need to achieve the highest level of precision in terms of promotion material and etc. At the same time, you can set the expectation with the client that the level of precision expected will require more time, money, or manpower. You might also work with the client to relax their standards to a level with which both parties are comfortable.

Most of us work the other way around. They cow tow to clients and promise the moon. Then they turn around like a drill sergeant with their team. In my experience, I’ve found that you burn relationships, deliver unsuccessful results, and generate unwarranted stress when you do this.

Take the time to cultivate relationships with your committees. Be a consultant, rather than a referee.

Share Ownership

When you’re the leader of a 100 member organization, everyone seems to look to you to fix everything. It was tempting to be the savior, but much more enriching to engage the members of the organization.

When stakeholders (staff), committees and clients engage in solutions, ownership shifts from the few to all. When everyone owns the organization, everyone feels responsible. Ownership is not just about paying for a service or products. Ownership is about doing the work to make the organization succeed. In order to foster ownership of your organization, encourage and empower your committees to:

* Participate in events by the organization (family day,gathering, trip, luncheon and etc);

* Engage in the planning process of the organization (KPI presentations and etc);

* Take the initiative to solve their problems;

Everyone wants an opportunity to share their expertise and strength. A good leader encourages and empowers everyone to use all of their skills.

There’s a few more tips coming up in the next post. So, stay tune! =)