- Green Growth
- Your Consultant
Becoming a special CEO who used to be a teacher, do you think your teaching experience helps in your current role? What is the importance of your past?
I think the most important job on earth in any country is to be a teacher. When the teacher walks into a classroom of 20, 300 or 600 people, they are sharing knowledge that may empower people to do dream and do bigger things for themselves.
When I moved into the CEO’s role for CPA Australia, it was about a year before I realised that I can bring the old teaching principles to my job. Like a teacher, I have to inspire my most senior people and trust them so that they can go out and become leaders themselves. Coming to Vietnam today and speaking with young people here about their potentials, I also want to inspire and motivate them the same way.
Imagine that I have two staff members who disagree on some issue. I have to remember what a teacher would do in such a situation. They would step back, discuss with each of them and help them resolve the conflict. In short, I think the best leaders are teachers, and we also have a leader in all of us who can make us more powerful and passionate to become better persons.
Many young people are doing jobs that they do not like and quickly grow disappointed with and give up, while some others quit school to start up their own business… What are your views on these trends?
When I was young, I also did many jobs that I did not like and gave them up after a short while. That was my mistake. Young people often ask me when they should give up a job that they don’t like. My answer is, if you don’t like the job you are doing, you should continue until you learn how to respect those people that you don’t like. If you don’t face challenges, you shrink yourself, but if you do, you will become a bigger person no matter if you succeed or fail in overcoming those challenges.
I understand that young people often want quick success, by my advice to you, as to my children, is that you have to be patient and prepare firm foundations so that you can have big success later.
In your opinion, is there an age of maturity to become a leader?
There is no such age, it really depends on your experience. When I was young, my mother was heavily sick and hospitalized for a long period, hence I was said to be more mature than my peers, but this was not because I am smarter than them, simply because I faced different situations and I got different experience. I think when you gain enough experience and go through difficult situations, you will become a leader more easily. Because when you have enough experience, you can prioritise matters in life and can make better choices to succeed.
During your visit to Vietnam this time, you introduced to the young people of Vietnam your best selling book “The Naked CEO”. What are the most interesting things you want to share with them?
I like the beginning chapter of the book about my school suspension, and especially the chapter “Being yourself”. You can’t be yourself if you don’t know who you are, and you can’t know who you are if you don’t face difficult situations and challenges. You will find who you are when you experience different circumstances, where you find how you react to things and try to overcome challenges. To become a leader and be able to delegate, you have to trust your senior employees, when you have confidence in them, it means you are giving them your reputation, and in return, they will do the same all the way and that’s the way we operate a business.
However, many people think that a successful leader will often be feared by their staff and tend to hide themselves?
A successful leader should not lead based on liking or fearing others, it’s important that they gain trust with every one, and that they can do what they say. So there are a number of essential factors to becoming a successful leader. First and foremost, curiosity. When you are curious about things, you will be ready to throw yourself into adventures and explore, then you will have lots of experience. Second, you must live being yourself. When you are yourself, you will think and act as the person you are. Your colleagues who understand that, will work with you and support you as a leader, even though they don’t like your character. Third, you must be very confident. Have confidence in yourself so that other people can trust you and be inspired by you to become confident themselves. Fourth, a leader should be able to use even smarter colleagues with better knowledge and skills, because they believe in themselves. Lastly, it is very important for a leader to be able to communicate in a simple manner to people around him.
In Vietnam, many young people have been promoted to senior leadership positions in business, but had to resign after a couple of years. What do you think about this?
We can only achieve big success if it is gained step-by-step. I agree that putting some very young people in the leader’s role, while they still lack experience, will make it an insurmountable challenge for them. My view is that in a company a leader will have a bigger chance to succeed if they grow up from inside their company, because they normally better understand different roles and activities inside the company than outsiders.
Like in many other countries, in Vietnam there are many family business owners who want to give senior leader positions to their young children. What are the positive and negative points about this?
I want to share with you my own family’s story. My dad also has a family business. When I were young, I discussed with him about his plans for succession and he told me that I should go out to get some job, prove myself, gain enough experience, and build self-confidence before coming home to talk about succession.
In my role as a teacher and being a mentor for many young people, I have seen some of them being very confused about being successors to their parents’ family business. In that case, my advice to them was that they should go out, gain their own experiences and tell their parents that they will decide for themselves if they want to be successor after all this.