What one leader wishes he knew when he started
Since moving into his first leadership position at Great Eastern Financial Advisers in Singapore, Cheng Huann Yeoh, ChFC, CLU, has climbed the ranks to reach the director level with Advisors’ Clique, an organization of 1,000 advisors, with another 28 director partners. But when he started his leadership journey in 2015, the team he oversaw was small. Job descriptions were rough guidelines that left a lot of important work unaccounted for. By necessity, some team members needed to assume extra responsibilities. Yeoh found it easiest to take on as much as possible, leaving the rest of the extra work to a single trusted subordinate.
Yeoh now sees that strategy as a mistake. A better approach, he thinks, would have been to spread the work among the entire team, even if that initially resulted in more mistakes. “Thinking back, what could have been adjusted was to give some of the responsibilities to the second-liners,” Yeoh said.
Yeoh’s new thinking reflects his maturity as a leader who wants to enhance the value of those who work with him. He wishes he would have delegated more so other members could grow into new roles alongside him. Any early stumbles would later serve as valuable lessons when the stakes grew larger.
“Let them do it at a smaller stage so that they have the confidence as the group grows bigger,” Yeoh said. “[The work] will become like a fish to water, very natural to them, rather than throwing them into the fire and training 20 people on the first attempt.”
Yeoh’s team mushroomed in the following years; the exact count now sits at 30 – the maximum possible size under Singapore regulations, in his current state. Yeoh no longer needs to worry about plugging work gaps. But he hasn’t stopped worrying about trying to give everyone a role in leadership discussions.
“We have progressed over the years to get feedback from everyone, even the new guys. To listen to what they need,” Yeoh said. “If we can’t attend to it right away, then we tell them, ‘This is not the time for us to address it, but we hear you.”
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