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Learning never stops; the new leadership style – Michele’s story

Michele is working to create an environment where everyone can perform at their best

I’ve recently taken on additional responsibilities which I’m handling by adopting the ‘new style’ of leadership.   By this I mean I don’t feel I need to know everything, but I feel secure enough to surround myself with committed individuals who are experts in that area. This makes the team even stronger; everyone is given the opportunity to excel in what they do best, and get recognised and rewarded for their individual contribution.   I have my core expertise, but I must continue to build on this. Learning never stops. I’m not afraid to ask questions, to acknowledge that I don’t know it all.

In banking, there are multiple moving parts and it’s common to wear multiple hats concurrently. It means leaders must acknowledge it’s impossible to stay on top of every granular detail. I’m only human; I need to spend time with my family, eat and sleep!

It is plain to see that women are playing an increasingly important role in the banking and financial services industry just as in other industries. More and more women are holding senior position in businesses and organisations. I am a strong advocate for gender equity, diversity and inclusion and believe that banks or businesses or any organisations will gain tremendous benefits as an organization if this can be accelerated.  In my view, when it comes to accomplishing goals through multi-tasking or building a solid work family environment, the feminine touch and skills like empathy, intuition and optimism of women work towards the benefit of the organization. Overall emotional intelligence, passion and helpful nature help to create a healthy workplace relationship and well-rounded workforce and women contribute in spades.

I joined the bank in 2011 after reaching a point in my career where I wanted to do more for my home country. I have always been a driven and self-motivated individual since the early years of my career. As a new entrant and a junior in the finance industry, you start off focused on execution, doing your job well and always deliver your targets. As I progressed into leadership, the first 10 years was predominantly “Pacesetting”. In the last 10 years, I have learnt and realized that to lead an effective team and optimize on people’s potential, I have to be able to influence and manage across generations and cultures. Now I’d define my leadership style more akin to “servant leadership” and I am a big advocate of Coaching. I feel motivated and excited to come to work every day. People are the centre of my organization. With great motivated people, my organization will thrive as well.

At Standard Chartered we are deeply committed to providing a workplace that is diverse, inclusive, and respectful for all our colleagues. We take gender balance into consideration when making recruitment and promotion decisions. Our organization has 70% female employees and my executive committee is 58% female who give us plenty of feedback on their needs and wants. Through this feedback loop, we do our best to support them, for examples, we have mother room, maternity allowance, Flexi work arrangement, coaching programs as they continue their leadership journey and encourage work-life balance to name a few.

Our people are given the freedom and accountability to make a real difference to the work they do, challenge where things could be better and find new opportunities for innovation. Judging people by the work they produce, not by the number of hours at a desk, our flexible working arrangements facilitated by advanced technologies allows our staff to work remotely and be productive and efficient.

Don't be afraid, and don't hold back. Be the change, make a difference.

Michele Wee CEO, Standard Chartered Bank Vietnam

From my perspective what makes a great leader, is to be open, honest, authentic and human. A leader should preserve integrity and professionalism to do what’s right. Consult and don’t be afraid to ask questions to anyone and be courageous to take risk and rise to challenges. Align ethics to commercial agenda at all times. A good leader must also be able to make decisions even when faced with ambiguity by utilizing the information and resources available and then be able to be agile and modify the strategy along the way. We should also not be afraid to admit, acknowledge and then learn from intelligent failures personally and as an organization. Learning a little everyday to improve the way I lead is also something I strive for.

If someone was to ask me for career advice, I would say leave your insecurities at the door. In fact, be proud that everyone brings a different skill set and mindset with them.  Also, have the patience to learn and fully appreciate the job.  Don’t be afraid, and don’t hold back. Be the change, make a difference.