“Why do you #lovewhereyouwork?”
"Having seen this slogan on the wall in the pantry, I was keen to know how it played out on the ground. In the time leading up to that day, I sought to familiarise myself with the company’s regional goals and strategy. However, getting up close with its people presented a whole ‘nother experience altogether.
I posed the question above to some Tweeps (which is how they fondly refer to the Twitter family) during a team lunch. Just as I had prepared for the day, I learnt that Maya had as well. The lunch was part of a carefully-crafted agenda meant to maximise my exposure, which also included a variety of functional meetings, such as Sales, Finance and broader strategy. In the light-hearted atmosphere of a team lunch, I had the opportunity to ask this question, which was also close to my own heart.
There was a wide range of answers, but they all had one ubiquitous element: people. The affection for the Twitter family is widely, if not universally, shared among its members. I also caught some hints of this throughout the day, starting with how Maya exchanged cheery morning greetings with those sitting around her, as well as how different teams snickered over shared inside jokes.
Of course, the working world is not a bed of roses. Throughout the day of meetings, there were moments of joy and fun, but also of tension and concern. In the variety of functional and emotional settings, I was able to observe Maya, how she handled various situations and, importantly, how she worked with her people.
For one, I appreciated the honesty between her and others. Someone could sit down with her and share their problems, concerns or achievements in a candid conversation. In larger meetings, people aired their opinions eagerly. While the day was just one glimpse of the existing mutual trust, I was sure that it had been established over the investment of significant time and effort. Furthermore, it was testament to Maya’s respect for each and every one of her co-workers – valuing and reaching out to them as individuals in a larger team, rather than simple cogs in a machine. I admired her desire to nurture them so that they could learn and contribute fully, and flourish in their work.
I was able to ask Maya more about her leadership style in the pockets of down time that she thoughtfully reserved for us. I was intrigued to learn that her current style is largely a result of continual personal development throughout her career, rather than any set personality traits. Clearly, leaders are not born, but made. Even now, she is open to constructive input from her team on how she can improve, proving that leaders continue to grow as well.
This dynamic process of growth busted an internally held myth on the existence of a universal leadership style that, once attained, would propel any individual to ideal leader status. There is an important role for learning and adaptation in the journey of leadership, especially as a one’s external environment is subject to regular change. With this, I came to appreciate the value of openness, responsiveness and, above all, humility. No leader is perfect or immune from blind spots, and it is better to accept feedback than resist on the basis of pride.
I am immensely grateful for these valuable lessons, gleaned from honest, one-to-one conversations with Maya, who gave her time to share them with me."
About Hui Ying Lee
Hui Ying had internship experiences with United Parcel Service (UPS), McKinsey & Company, US-ASEAN Business Council where she had deeply honed her research & interpersonal skills with the different stakeholders. She was also selected to represent NUS in an international debate Asia Pacific Model European Union (2018).
Hui Ying showcased her personal and hands-on leadership qualities through her NUS Students’ Community Service Club as a Chairperson and Assistant Project Director, where she researched extensively and executed programmes beneficial for the disabled and improved attendance for volunteers.