When we think of the word “leader,” everyone has a unique definition. What if there is more to leadership than meets the eye? At Oasis Talks, we aim to explore the human side of leadership through our speakers’ insights.
We’ve just ended our first session on Wednesday, June 30, where we invited Shn Juay, head of product and marketing at Storms and former CEO of Paktor Dating Group. She shared her personal experience in leadership roles during the webinar.
Here are several key points Juay discussed with Oasis during the talk.
Leadership in practice
Crisis tests leadership. If the leaders have the tenacity to stand firm on the ground and pull through, people will follow.
When asked about three values she strives for in life, Juay spoke about the importance of being genuine, having tenacity, and being fair.
Mentioning how leaders are exposed to more organizational issues as they rise through the ranks, she explains the need for grit and tenacity to firmly stand your ground and try to resolve issues rather than walking away when they arise.
One such incident was during her time as Paktor’s COO in 2018. Paktor’s parent company, M17 entertainment, had filed for its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange but ended up withdrawing the application. That was a difficult time as many started to speculate that the company was losing money. During this period, her colleagues were being headhunted, and many employees wanted to know what had happened to their shares.
Despite being worried about the situation, she recognized the need for immediate communication and to explain the situation to the company’s employees. In the end, everyone stayed on despite the uncertainty they were facing.
“I realized that it was because the senior management didn’t leave, and they were able to continue to stand firm in giving directions. This probably gave everyone assurance, and not only did everyone stay in the end, we also managed to turn things around and achieve the highest revenue in Paktor’s history the very next year,” Juay reflected on this .
When asked about practicing fairness, she shares her belief that, “fair doesn’t mean equal.” Citing the example of how everyone in the company might have different working styles and personalities, Juay mentions that perceptions might differ when it comes to opportunities at work. Not only that, outcomes usually differ between individuals, “I always ask myself how I can magnify the strength within a group, instead of trying to control and expect equal outcomes from each of them.”
360-degree feedback mechanism under the spotlight
For any organization to be successful, anywhere in the world, leaders always need to fall back on their values.
Reflecting on the 360-degree feedback mechanism—an employee assessment system that’s gaining popularity in Asia—Juay applauds the mechanism as “it increases accountability in all levels,” but also recognizes the difficulties in implementation.
The 360-degree feedback mechanism improves senior managers’ self-awareness when there’s bottom-up feedback. According to Juay, it’s also about managing upwards. Whether positive or negative, feedback helps leaders advance in their careers.
The challenge, especially in an Asian context, is that staff tends to be reluctant and communicate less when it involves having to give negative feedback to their managers. In such situations, Juay suggested providing constructive feedback with examples to back it up, so managers know how and where they can improve.
Juay also mentions the need for company management and HR to hold managers accountable, understand where the gap is, and invest time to spot places for improvement.
During her time at Paktor, for example, Juay would conduct in-person “ask me anything” sessions, in which they went to each markets’ local offices and spent time talking to employees without their managers present. In the end, the benefits of the 360-degree feedback mechanism outweigh the time and effort needed to implement it.
Being a self-disciplined workaholic
The pandemic has made it possible for many companies and individuals to consider working remotely or from home. However, having the option to work wherever you want only makes it harder to draw a line between life and work.
As the results of Oasis’s poll during the session suggest, more than half of our attendees (53%) find it harder to maintain a work-life balance when remote work is normalized.
For Juay, self-discipline is also something that she constantly has to keep in mind.
I hold myself accountable on several fronts—knowing when to stop working and spend time with family, as well as taking care of my physical and mental well-being. This is especially important in my role as a mother.
Looking back at her time as a workaholic earlier in her career, Juay said, “At Paktor, I only took half of the three months maternity leave I was entitled to. Soon after, a staff member came to ask if it was alright that she took the entire three months of her maternity leave. That was when it occurred to me about the leadership I was showing—that they had to ask me about taking full maternity leave that was fully within their rights.”
Whether in her professional career or personal life, Juay mentions her gratitude for the support from her loved ones and colleagues. While she acknowledges that she has grown as a leader, learning along the way and improving based on feedback from those in her life have helped her to continually reach new heights.
If you wish to ask Shn Juay any more questions, reach out to us via this form.
Oasis holds regular events in which we explore the human side of leadership through our speakers’ insights. If you wish to sign up for our future events, please sign up for our newsletter. If you have any suggestions for who we should invite next, or just want to say hi, please feel free to email us at [email protected]r-asia.com.