If every business leader has a "recipe for success", one of the key ingredients is the advice of others. This advice may come from a mentor, a former leader, a friend or a family member; it is invaluable to the business leader and is something to look back on for a lifetime. More importantly, it is the advice that guides leaders when they are vulnerable and powerless.
David Jiang, Director and General Manager, American Express China
"Take care of yourself to do good business"
More than 10 years ago, one of the most important pieces of advice was given to me by one of the company's bosses in charge of international business. At the time, American Express was planning its official entry into the Chinese market, but with it came extremely long and arduous negotiations. I stayed with this boss at the Beijing Hotel for a whole month. He was British and in his 60s at the time, but he was still energetic and kept going to the gym every day. He saw that I was under a lot of stress and reached out to me to talk about it.
He said there were three basic paths in life - career, family, and yourself. He said that career is indeed the most important, but for life, it should be a long-term pursuit, not a momentary effort. You need to balance your career, your family and yourself. Very often, we may know how to dedicate all our time and energy to our career and family, but we tend to neglect ourselves. But the thing is, if we can't take care of ourselves, you will hardly have enough energy, enough health, to take care of your family and thus your career.
He has always encouraged his company's employees to develop hobbies that interest them and to do a good job of balancing the three paths. He believes that if there are no happy employees, they naturally cannot make products and services that satisfy customers. Since then, I have made a lot of changes. I work very hard and conscientiously, but when it comes to holidays, I turn off my phone.
Junyuan Gu, President of ABB Group China
"Start with a platform-type position"
A wise man once gave me a very good piece of advice. He pointed out that if you want to develop in a big company, you first need to have a platform yourself, and do your job well on that platform, and it will be smooth after that. "And what is this platform?" I continued to ask. He said, "In a big business, there are two positions that are platforms: one is sales and the other is R&D." He went on to explain that in these two platform positions, if you are to do well you necessarily have to deal with all departments of the company. The sales side has to care about factories and production, give feedback to R&D and follow up and communicate with finance and other departments. The same goes for R&D. I think this advice has helped me a lot and opened up ideas for my own work, namely that R&D is not only confined to thinking about R&D, but also to break down the boundaries of my own responsibilities and look at the issues a bit higher.
Huang Zhuling, President of Dow Greater China
"Leaders need followers"
There is a quote that has had a big impact on me and has basically changed my original management philosophy. The quote is: "As a leader, you need followers", that is, "Leaders need followers. You are the leader, so who will follow you? I think this is a very valid statement. Many times I say that leaders should do what they do, but I don't consider the needs of the followers, that is, why should employees follow you and trust you?
I am now setting my 2020 goals and thinking about why employees should trust you. So, when you change the perspective of thinking, it is very different to talk about leadership again. Secondly, if a problem or crisis arises, anyone can be afraid, but a leader cannot be intimidated. You have to show your team that you are calm and that any problem can be solved. Thirdly, when we communicate with our staff, I put myself in the position of the staff. When I used to work as an engineer, I would love to see my leader very passionate and speak out something that you yourself believe in 100 per cent.
So, the communication aspect takes a lot, a lot of time. When you stand on stage to give a speech, it's obvious whether you believe in what you're saying or not. Where do you put your hands? Is there a smile? Are you worried about where your eyes are looking? People can tell at a glance whether you believe it or not. The effect this has had on me is that I think about how I manage my team by putting myself in the shoes of my staff.