This was the headline from Barbara Chiu, Cisco’s managing director for Hong Kong and Macao, as she related about the importance of leaders being able to connect with people and with what they want to achieve. To do this, obviously, means thinking less about your own needs and more about those of others. As she explained: “When you were made a leader you weren’t given a crown, you were given a responsibility to bring out the best in others, and so you have to value the process of developing people.” In fact, she asserted that “when you are a leader, you lose the right to think about yourself.”
Even when dealing with “difficult” people (in response to a student’s question), Barbara maintained that “you have to lead yourself to find a way to respect others, even if you don’t like them. The challenge is to find a common goal or interest that allows you to connect with them.” And, moreover, she said that in tough time’s leaders have to spend even more time than usual talking and listening to people at all levels: “Communicating my aspirations and listening to their concerns so that they can know me and appreciate that I know them.” Organizations can no longer survive, in Hong Kong, China, or elsewhere with a “command-and-control” mentality – “We have to be collaborative.”
Barbara told us that “people have to believe that you are trustworthy and that you trust them, and then they will be able to trust you.” Your job, therefore, is to “arrange opportunities for people to shine.” In her experience, all of it in Asia (with Cisco, PCCW and HP), she felt that “you can’t move people to action unless you first move them with emotion. The heart comes before the head.”
Barbara could not find enough times in her remarks to say, again and again: “It’s all about bringing out the best in people.” No argument from me.
All the best,