Lady Boss Azila Abdul Aziz Of Kenanga: 7 Lines Every Leader Should Remember
While the experience has led her on a daunting yet memorable journey through a male-dominated industry, it has also gleaned many a timeless lesson and advice for both effective leaders and employees. The recently-minted 'CEO of The Year' at the inaugural Women in Finance Asia event in May shared with us her values as a leader.
1/7 Life is lived in episodes and stages as what it is to workplace and business.
“When it comes to challenging times and obstacles I repeatedly would ask myself, what's the worst thing that can happen? I would avoid the feeling of finality, where any stumbling block does not have the lasting and permanent impact, and that in the next 5 years such challenging situations may not matter at all. You must then have courage to tackle the obstacles and have a plan for smart course correction. I believe that the lessons learned in your lowest lows prepare you to receive the blessings of your highest highs.”
2/7 Happiness is also a critical part of success.
“A higher salary is most notably associated with success after all; as you climb the ladder, you expect to be compensated for your ascent. Work life balance could only be achievable when you are emotionally happy at home and work irrespective of the number of hours you put into both. Mind-body awareness is an important complementary skill, sp be kind to yourself. We cannot pour from an empty cup; therefore you must know when to stop and not only stop when your well-being has been compromised. If you are at a critical juncture of a 90:10 ratio of work to life, manage it gradually to 70:30 and progress from there. Plus, I always believe that happy people create a happy workplace and would naturally attract and retain happy clients."
3/7 Embrace and practice mindfulness and authenticity in leadership style.
“At the early stages, I have more than often adopted a technical leadership style because technical expertise and industry experience have elevated me to a management role. As I get accustomed to my role, I progressively improve on my approach, and today, I embrace and practice mindfulness and authenticity in my leadership style. It helps me to remain centered and maintain a calm perspective, especially when making tough and sometimes unpopular decisions. Having a balanced outlook is so important to me as I experience that for most part solutions to today’s problems are largely undefined and for that, personally, I need to develop new capabilities and skillsets to manage higher levels of uncertainty, conflicts, complexity and change. After all business is about connecting human-to-human, it’s people you are dealing with, not just a statistic on a graph.”
4/7 Leading and guiding others to the path of success is a reflection that the leader is also a great mentor.
“I believe mentoring is also an important aspect of leadership. It promotes a healthy working relationship between a leader and those who work under them because they know they can count on each other. True leaders willingly share their knowledge and are not intimidated by the success of others.”
5/7 Women tend to have high level of emotional intelligence and that will have a profound impact on the way they run companies.
“Historically, men are looked to lead. So much has been written about why women are under-represented in senior leadership – from poor childcare provisions to institutional bias. But one thing researchers can’t agree on is whether there are fewer women leaders because they’re less effective at the job, or because society expects them to be. But what can be agreed upon are the common traits of great leaders, many of which women excel at over their male peers, where women tend to have high level of emotional intelligence and that will have a profound impact on the way they run companies.”
6/7 See every day as a new day.
“What is routine for me is to start the day calmly and clearheaded to accomplish the jobs at hand. Typically I already have a game plan prepared for what I will do that day. If there are unexpected bumps ahead, being emotionally fit will help me deal with the difficult times.”
7/7 It's not just female inclusion — it's diversity in a company
"With men being the majority and often the advantaged group, the expectations are for male leaders to recognise and endorse female talents. Men have to be the catalyst for change, challenging structures that disadvantage women while at the same time remain committed to the organisation's success. Diversity at work place is not limited to differences in gender, ethnicity or age but what is important is diversity of thought. Bringing in employees with different backgrounds and unique skillsets encourages innovation and progressive, while approaching business challenges."