A while ago I was listening to Simon Sinek talking about leadership development, and he used an analogy of brushing your teeth every day versus going to the dentist once a month. In order to keep your teeth healthy, the optimal of those choices is, of course, the first one. Similarly, practicing and maintaining leadership should be a daily activity, not a once-in-a-while catch-up activity. That made me think about leadership development in general – how it works, and who it works for.
One day, Kim, our Head of Leadership Capability, and I were exchanging our views on leadership. We found that we both believe in diverse leadership – appreciating different forms of leadership with a belief that leadership is not just reserved for those in senior positions. That conversation awakened my hibernating passion for the topic.
I was given the power and freedom to lead something I'm passionate about
Shortly after, I pitched Kim the idea of ‘Leadership Health’, which is a concept designed to achieve three goals: 1) to democratise leadership as something for everyone, not just those in positions of authority; 2) to drive a habit of micro-learning; and 3) to upgrade our colleagues’ perception of their own leadership capabilities.
Kim loved the idea and asked me to lead the project. She put her trust and confidence in me and let me take the wheel. I put my leadership qualities into action to get the project moving, while Kim displayed a different form of leadership by giving me her trust and support.
As a result, the Leadership Health project itself became an example of ‘diverse leadership’, demonstrating what we are trying to achieve: helping people to demonstrate their own leadership qualities by unleashing their potential.
The idea is to simulate our physical health journey but for leadership development. Here is how:
1) Self-diagnosis: Our physical health journey starts with understanding our current state of health. Similarly, the leadership health journey starts with self-diagnosis, assessing the four leadership ‘muscles’: enabling performance, empowering people, driving vision, and continuing self-growth.
2) Treatment: People actively and voluntarily invest in improving and maintaining their health by exercising regularly, eating properly, getting professional help and treatment, etc. Our colleagues take care of their leadership health through holistic leadership treatment, which is composed of simple, fun, practical missions under 12 themes such as ‘wellbeing’, ‘intelligent failures’, ‘thinking client’ and ‘performance’. For 60 days, our colleagues received one mission per day to flex their leadership muscles.
The capacity to come up with ideas and lead is not just reserved for those in senior positions
To test out the idea, we launched our first leadership health experiment, which has seen some great results. The experiment was run in two languages – English and Korean – for around 1,000 colleagues across different markets, including China, India and Korea.
More than 300 pieces of positive feedback were shared with us, praising its simplicity, practicality, and originality. 100 per cent of participants believed that the treatment has helped improve the way they lead, and 96 per cent said the leadership health journey has had a positive impact on the people they lead.
Meanwhile, 97 colleagues outside of our pilot groups volunteered to participate in our first experiment while 245 colleagues are queuing up for our second experiment, even before the first one is complete! So I know we’re on the right track.
Team Leadership Health
The stand-out element of this project for me is that I was given the power and freedom to lead something I’m passionate about. I felt supported to be ambitious.
There was no 'leadership health team' in the traditional sense, but everyone was ‘Team Leadership Health’. Together, we brought and will bring more exciting leadership ideas to life.
Taking the leadership lessons learned from the pandemic (e.g. the importance of adaptability), coupled with our purpose to drive commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity, we believe leadership health will help us develop the leadership power of more colleagues than just a chosen few.
So stay tuned because good leadership health, like physical health, is a lifelong mission!
To read participant testimonies from Bino, Nicola and Sunny, check out the stories below.
Interested in joining us?
If you're looking for a career with purpose and want to work for a bank making a difference, we'd love to hear from you.