Commentary: Being open about their challenges might help bosses join higher to employees

Commentary: Being open about their challenges can help bosses connect better to workers

Mere weeks out of a turbulent 2022, 2023 greets us not with the hope and optimism of a brand new yr. Financial uncertainty continues to loom forward, each globally and domestically.

The Worldwide Financial Fund predicts a drastic progress slowdown from 6.0 per cent to 2.7 per cent, and the Ministry of Commerce and Business anticipates Singapore’s GDP progress to come back in at a slower 0.5-2.5 per cent.

The information of world layoffs, which has been occurring for the reason that final quarter of 2022, has adopted us into the brand new yr.

A cup of espresso and our favorite hen rice price extra now. Our month-to-month mortgage compensation is considerably greater than earlier than. For a few of us, there’s a actual hazard of dropping our jobs.

All of us are affected, from the common employee to the center supervisor, and even, I daresay, the leaders on the high, extra considerably than folks realise.

The enterprise situations that beforehand allowed enterprise leaders to function whereas being worthwhile have modified drastically.

In our dialog with Mr Manvinder Singh, Chief Funding Officer of Olam Monetary Providers, he mentioned, “With the rates of interest growing from zero to five per cent with no indicators of subsiding, firms should re-examine priorities and recalibrate to handle larger rates of interest and an inflationary setting.”

Past their private duty to their households, enterprise leaders are additionally answerable to these they lead, impacting the livelihoods of many households.

To not point out, enterprise leaders must grapple with the elevated complexities of attracting, growing and retaining high expertise throughout a workforce that may have fairly totally different wants and motivations.

With the worldwide stress of attaining the United Nations’ Sustainable Growth Targets by 2030, in addition to managing different extra typical considerations round company governance and shareholder worth, the highway forward for senior leaders and C-suite executives is daunting no matter trade, to say the least.


You’ve most likely heard of the notion that it’s lonely on the high. With out working the danger of being mistaken as navel-gazing, enterprise leaders little doubt have a really distinctive set of challenges.

For these of us who’ve led in numerous capacities—in class, throughout Nationwide Service, in our neighborhood or spiritual actions, and even inside our family—we will most likely relate.

Being a pacesetter is a difficult and lonely expertise. You’re anticipated to make powerful choices, bear the results of them, and navigate uncertainties and crises alone, because it doesn’t look like there may be another person to open up to or search steering from.

Maybe most difficult of all, some leaders may really feel as if they must faux they’ve all of it collectively once they actually don’t, all within the title of forging forward with bravado.

Nevertheless it doesn’t must be this manner.

In my skilled capability as associate of QED Consulting, I’ve had quite a few alternatives within the final 5 years to commonly pay attention to closed-door discussions amongst company leaders, together with C-level executives and Board Administrators.

I’ve heard their candid gripes about having too quick a runway to satisfy the UN’s Sustainable Growth Targets.

I’ve additionally heard them name out the double requirements they generally discover in discussions round Range, Fairness, and Inclusion, which deal with choose points of DEI whereas failing to handle ageism, socio-economic standing, or ethnicity.

Most of all, I’ve borne witness to them letting their guards down, being susceptible with one another and admitting that they don’t have all of the solutions—the uncertainty of the long run scares them too.

However, in the identical breath, they specific their dedication to bravely forging ahead to chart out the perfect path forward for his or her groups and organisations.

Certainly, after we spoke to Mr Lim Siong Guan, Founding Chairman of Honour (Singapore), he mentioned, “Individuals and tradition are what essentially make one firm totally different from one other. Getting ready for the long run is a duty distinctive to leaders, however too many neglect it. The longer term is the place all of us will get to, however how nicely will we do it?”


Of over 80 the senior leaders we’ve spoken to on the tenth QED Changemaker Discussion board final November, a biannual closed-door discussion board session for C-suites and senior leaders from non-public and public sectors, 85 per cent consider that the folks they lead are their best belongings as essentially the most essential driver of change, having the best influence on the long run methods of working.

Moreover, certainly one of their high considerations within the subsequent six to 12 months is management—not merely the talents wanted to be chief, however particularly, the character and qualities wanted to be one, forward of considerations round innovation and even sustainability.

This, to me, is heartening as a result of to efficiently navigate an unsure future, essentially the most essential aspect is the character and never solely the competency of a pacesetter.

Leaders who reduce corners, bend the principles, and serve their self-interests – regardless of how technically expert or competent – usually tend to have a demotivated, unproductive and distrusting workforce with a excessive turnover charge.

In distinction, a pacesetter who could also be much less expert however with a robust sense of honour will make ethical and moral choices that earn the respect of their workforce, inspiring them as they’re reminded that they’re working for a noble trigger.

Of late, the voices of the employees have made themselves heard, all of whom specific legitimate considerations and anxieties that are to be anticipated.

Nonetheless, unseen and rarely heard are the plight and challenges of the leaders in making the troublesome and oftentimes unpopular choices which have a big influence on the lives of their staff, clients, and shareholders.

Simply as staff ought to all the time be capable of depend on their leaders and share their fears and anxieties with them, leaders may also deliberately join with these they lead, as people first by making avenues for sincere conversations obtainable and interesting them with empathy.

The results of that maybe can be a extra productive and satisfying work setting for all, the place mutual respect, belief and collaboration flourish.



Natasha Zhao is associate at QED Consulting, a private-sector assume tank that organises the QED Changemaker Discussion board carried out biannually amongst its neighborhood of company C-suite executives and board administrators to drive change for the collective good.