By PREMA JAYABALAN
Most of us would have received our first dose of leadership from our parents. One key advice in leadership is to ‘never lose your principles even when the going gets tough.’
How do you stick to your principles when everything else around you seems to be falling apart? What are the key traits needed to ensure that you never let go of your beliefs even when in despair?
I had the privilege of gaining some insights from a few people, on attributes that strengthen your principles. There are three traits that I believe can help you hold firm to your beliefs regardless of your situation and enable you to lead a life that is built on a solid foundation.
Click play to listen to its corresponding podcast:
Standing A Firm Ground
My late grandfather was a merchant who handled medical supplies. Business was flourishing when my mother was a child but my grandfather fell ill when she was 15, and business went downhill thereafter.
My grandparents were struggling to make ends meet. Thankfully their elder children were married and working but my mother and her brother were still in school.
When the situation worsened, my grandmother – a lady from an old school of thought – suggested that my mother stop attending school since she was a girl, to ease the burden of paying for two children’s education, but my grandfather would not hear of it.
He emphasised the importance of education regardless of gender and did not allow my grandmother to persuade him.
He stood his ground for what he believed in and my mother completed her secondary education. Sadly, he did not live to see her graduate, but his stubbornness paid off as my mother went on to work in a well-known hospital for the next 38 years as a senior lab assistant.
Had she dropped out of school when she was younger, she would not have been able to secure the job which contributed to her family and put me and my sister in school.
At work, we are faced with multiple scenarios, a diverse workforce and a tendency to get carried away by following others blindly. At times, some of us may feel that following the majority will ensure we are liked by all.
However, standing a firm ground and not giving up on what you believe in merely to jump on the bandwagon, puts you one notch higher than the rest.
Why? Because you are then perceived as one who is strong, determined and not easily influenced by others.
You are someone who will fight for what you believe is right and works hard towards proving yourself. You are someone who perseveres when everyone else gives in.
Now, aren’t these the attributes of a budding leader that employers are always looking out for when succession planning?
Being accountable. They seem like such simple words but do all of us practice it at all times? Especially without any complaints? My university roommate, Priya is one who always took ownership of whatever tasks were given to her and she completed them well.
I remember visiting her hometown in Johor with a few of my friends during our university break. Her family was so hospitable and caring. Her father always ensured we were well taken care of and comfortable.
Priya would say that her father always tells her that she must always be hardworking and give her utmost best at work.
“No complains and no MCs” was his motto. He lives by his principles too. Even after retirement, he continues to work. He drives 100km a day to and from work and she has never seen him sleep late over the weekends.
Even his weekends are spent grocery shopping, settling the bills, helping her mother with household chores and helping out with his grandchildren.
According to her, she has been following her father’s footsteps since the day she started working back in 2007. As a result, she has received the Service Excellence Award twice.
Though she was travelling 130km to work per day at one time, she has never once been late. Despite being new at work, her boss always gave her first preference when it came to taking on more tasks.
She was asked to take charge at work during his absence even though there were colleagues far more senior than her.
She attributes these milestones in her career to the fact that she has followed her father’s words of wisdom until today. ‘Perform your duties without expectations’.
Being accountable does not merely mean being accountable for just your tasks but it is in taking responsibility for the bigger picture; it’s about being accountable to what is happening around you, looking out for your teammates and stepping in to offer a helping hand when there is a crisis or dilemma.
It’s about not letting the situation pull you down but taking charge and ensuring that you and your organisation do not drown in the negative situation.
Integrity – always doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.
I remember working with a friend a few years back. He was a team lead in a telemarketing division. At one time, most of his colleagues were taking the shorter and easier route, which at times was not 100% above board, in order to receive a good commission.
But he was never bothered about it and never succumbed to what they were doing.
He held onto his principle of always having integrity even when he was not earning half as much as everyone else.
I remember him going back with a satisfied and content demeanour for he knew his earnings for that day were purely through his own effort.
And so came the day to acknowledge the best team lead and he got the accolade. Yes, it was him and not the one who got the highest commission.
You may think that no-one is watching but someone always is. Until today, if you ask about him to anyone who knows him, you will always get positive and pleasant remarks. For me, that is an identity that will take you far in your career.
If you are known as one who has integrity, you will be able to shine in your career simply because your superiors will never hesitate to trust you with huge responsibilities and tasks, as they know you will give it your 100% even without any supervision.