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A new perspective on leadership in Asia - Time for disruption?

Thursday, November 12, 2015 - 05:50
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Mr Andrew Bryant, jury member of ACES Awards and author of Self-Leadership.

Asia is big! Its economy comprises more than 4.4 billion people (60 per cent of the world population) living in 49 different states.

And to add to this diversity is an increasing shift in values of younger and more affluent Asians as they enter the workforce, so generalisations are at best useless and at worst, dangerous.

I have been speaking to several senior leaders lately, each of whom run businesses in multiple Asian countries. I asked them about Asian leadership and I picked up a couple of themes that I wanted to share.

1. Disruption needs a new Mind-set

Disruption is not just a fancy new App, disruption is the mind-set that he or she who empowers the consumer wins!

The leaders I am working with, want to shift the mind-set of their managers and people to understand all parts of the business, because it is disruptors who cut across silos thinking, that are winning the customer.

It is harder to disrupt an established business because of the legacy systems, and Asian business has the added inertia of 'tradition', but there are plenty of examples of where this has been overcome.

Usually this has been achieved by hiring 'digital natives' and educating managers on how to embrace change.

2. The need for Self-leadership

A workforce that can handle disruption, needs a higher level of autonomy. Individuals need to take personal responsibility and be clear about group accountability. This is Self-leadership and is sometimes counter-cultural in an Asian context.

Self-leadership research (Bryant & Kazan 2012) shows that, clarity of Intention, increases Influence and therefore Impact, when Intention is supported by Self-awareness, Self-confidence and Self-efficacy.

Most of these terms are in common use, so let me just expand on Self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the belief that whatever comes our way we can handle it. It is the confidence to take feedback, adapt and try again until successful.

Human beings can survive and thrive in some of the most inhospitable parts of this planet, because of our self-efficacy and ability to collaborate in teams.

Asian leadership is 5,000+ years old and is continuing to adapt; my perspective is that the disruption is here, not just in Silicon Valley.

Mr Andrew Bryant, jury member of ACES Awards and the author of Self-Leadership