'Safety net' for good leaders

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 March, 2011, 12:00am

Busy executives need not baulk at the prospect of ploughing through every leaf of the 300-page title by leadership expert Emilia Gallo.

Treat it as a 'directory' of skill sets and go to the relevant chapter for pointers, says the Hong Kong-based HR professional-turned-consultant of her latest book, Where's My Safety Net? Leading on the High Wire of Global Business.

Drawing on a wealth of experiences in leadership training, Gallo has filled her book with practical advice, and useful tools and techniques for building core leadership skills and competencies.

'Leadership is not only about managing people to do their job, but engaging them and absolutely connecting them to the work that they do,' Gallo says in an interview with Classified Post.

Addressing the sweeping changes a globalised world has brought about to the way we work and lead people, Gallo says her book offers a 'safety net' to readers by helping them acquire the attributes they need to protect themselves in a global environment.

'The challenge is that it's all new. What we used to do five years ago we can't do today,' she says.

Where's My Safety Net tackles a range of issues pertinent to leadership development, from talent and performance management to how to lead a global team and leading amid changes. Apt questions, well-designed assessment sheets and detailed action plans are offered.

Gallo says many leaders don't know how to inspire their employees for them to feel a connection between the work they do and the company they work for.

'I do a lot of work with HR teams. When I ask them how they add value, they'll start telling me they do recruitment. But this is not how you add value; that's what you do every day. If you are doing recruiting, you are adding value by building the talent [pool] of the organisation.'

Leaders have the responsibility to engage their staff, Gallo adds.

'Ask effective questions, [such as] 'these are the things we need to accomplish, how do you think you can support the team in doing that?' Communication is a two-way process, but many leaders see it as one way: 'I just tell you what it is'.'

Gallo says it is important for managers to realise 'we are all human beings' and that employees need to be recognised and rewarded for their work.

'I ask employees how [they] know when [they have] done a good job. The most common response is, 'if the manager doesn't complain, I must be okay'. I then say to the leaders, if that's the response I'm getting from your employees, you are not engaging them to feel recognised for their contribution.'

Gallo says productivity increases up to 10 to 20 per cent when managers give feedback, which should be 'constructive and forward-orientated'.

'If an employee is doing something wrong I say, 'next time you had that opportunity, what could you do differently?' That way, the employee feels engaged and takes accountability for their actions.

'In this global environment, we don't want to be told what to do any more, especially the younger generation. If we are not getting stimulation, we feel bored. This is why turnover is a problem. If my managers can't engage me, I'm ready to move on.'

Gallo says a large percentage of people leave their job because of their managers. 'Employees don't leave their companies; they leave their managers.'

Book Where's My Safety Net?
Author Emilia Gallo
Publisher Excel Global Consulting


Leadership is the ability to bring people together to achieve a common purpose amid changes

Assess conditions within and external to your organisation and define the vision and strategy to provide meaning for the work of the team

Mobilise individuals with different ideas, skills and values, and inspire people to achieve results

Understand the impact of leadership behaviour on individuals, teams and the business, and increase self-awareness of inclusive behaviour