Tag Archives: Leadership

Leadership strengths make a difference

Looking back and forth, thinking it through from Earth all the way to Mars and back, head-wrecking issues that HR and any organization face have their weakness with the right leadership of those that are given the privilege of managing other people. So many issues would never have materialised only if the manager knows and lives leadership. Although leadership is no longer a secret ingredient (it’s probably the most talked about thing of the century among any organization), a lot of the managers only know but don’t really live and practice leadership as it is supposed to.

Ok, leadership isn’t just a rigid list of items in a recipe; no matter how much it has been talked about, it’s still a very abstract concept. Interpretation of what resonates good leadership are subjective and isn’t mathematical. However, I’ve been taught to believe that the fundamentals of leadership can still be drawn out, in a sense wide enough to umbrella all of those subjectively different interpretation. Just as AIESEC has collectively put it:


Leadership is about knowing oneself in relations to other people, about empowering others, and about being part of the solutions by upholding, breathing in & out responsible and optimistic attitudes towards creating solutions for surrounding problems.

Taking the contexts of how ones are authorised and privileged to manage and supposedly lead others, leadership would clearly make a difference. Strong leadership at all hierarchical levels almost mean a lot of HR-driven processes become obsolete, because then HR need not constantly be a law-maker and a policeman to introduce and remind people of people-related processes and take not so popular actions to ensure compliance. Those processes would exist in their best natural forms – the managers/leaders take the best care of their employees, which would results in high retention, engagement, motivated and empowered workforce, and thus high performing organization – a utopia that every entity dreams of.

My take on this, as an early HR professional, as well as a member/alumni of AIESEC, a specialist organization in leadership, is that: leadership and people managerial responsibility isn’t something that employers might as well as give away, to any Tom, Dick and Harry, and definitely something cheap. Impactful things, potentially giving high returns, are expensive. Organizations should be ready to invest in vigorous processes to develop someone from the inside or head-hunt external talents to take on leadership positions and to pay competent leaders/managers the money that they deserve, because their ability will collectively turn around the effectiveness of their workforce and the profitability of their business.

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Reforms at the Ministry of Commerce

My morning was well-spent attending a seminar delivered by the Minister himself, where he talked about new reforms that the Ministry has been working on, so that it can optimize its role in serving the development of Cambodia. It was inspiring to see and listen to a leader of such passion, ideas, ambition and good heart for Cambodia and like my friend said, I hope it was all genuine and true.


For those that were not there at the event, let me share a few things that I noted down from the remark and presentation that the Minister Sun Chanthol delivered:

Elimination of C/O (Certification of Origin): He said, unlike before, exporting to countries like the US do not require certificates of origin anymore, so there’s no need to create hassles by requiring our farmers, investors and businessmen to waste resources and slow down their operation by requesting issuance of C/O from the MoC. A C/O costs 38$ and the making of it needs signatures and stamp print of certain authority at the Ministry, which also incurs more workload for the Ministry. This might also mean less revenue for the Ministry but they are willing to trade this for more efficiency and for encouragement for our investors/businessmen/exporters.

Online Platform: The Ministry aims to put in place an efficient online platform to serve the needs of entrepreneurs and relevant stakeholders. Some officers will be sent to study good case practices of online operation from the government of Singapore, so that in the future, we all don’t have to endure unnecessary red tapes of, for example, registering a certain trademarks or names. The idea is so that certain names/trademarks/brands etc. can be checked for availability online and the registration process only includes several simple steps, all of which can be completed online from the comfort of our own room.

Research Institute for Farmers: With the support of World Bank (about 60,000 USD in funding), the Ministry is investing in a research institute that works on collecting and analyzing data to arrive at valuable information to provide to our local farmers so that they can make well informed decisions. Currently, a lot of farmers make some really big decisions by following the crowd and different rumors, which sometimes results in big losses and substantial drop in the values of their production. Lack of information is seen as a root cause to this problem and the institute is meant to tackle exactly this.

Hotline: Highly responsive hotline will be put in place so that any irregularities, including corruption, violation of human rights, or any problems concerning food and agricultural sectors etc. can be instantly, and in a simple way, reported.

Great Effort in Attracting Investors: The Ministry and authorities involved have put in big efforts in activities that can promote Cambodia as a golden destination for investment. Cambodia has been presented as the centre of ASEAN. “Invest in Cambodia, we’ll have 14.7 million customers; Invest in Cambodia and you’ll have 600 million customers (ASEAN population) at your doorsteps.” The Minister has been travelling to potential countries, sometimes with groups of local businessmen, to entice different stakeholders to come invest in Cambodia.

Online Presence: It has been 7 months since the creation of MoC’s facebook fan page. Currently there are about 34k likes, which is expected to grow to 100k soon. The Ministry is also reforming their website, renovating its look and ensuring high level of transparency towards the public through the highly engaging world of the internet. IMAG2564

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Extraordinary Leadership to Anticipate!

The time has come for the hero to rise. Since its independence from the colonization of Cambodia under the French, no national leaders have seemed to be internationally and historically recognized as the one with the outstanding world-class leadership – the leadership that is non-deluding, selfless, powerful, transformational, revolutionary, and any adjective that the ideal leadership for Cambodia encompasses.

Cambodia was growing well under the leadership of King Norodom Sihanouk during the 1950s but only to fall very miserably under one of the darkest regimes this country’s history has ever seen during the 1970s.

Then, a new leader arose, Hun Sen, with the help of the Vietnamese, managed to overthrow the very dark regime of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s and brought Cambodia up to light again. However, his leadership hasn’t been proven amazing enough, with him and his elite group having about 3 decades to lead the entire nation. With all the favorable conditions, more than 30 years after its “rebirth”, Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in the world. That leadership, I would say, is an OK one, if a not bad one.

I do hope I live to see the rise of an extraordinary leadership, the leadership that would vow the world, and that would bring Cambodia on its road to enjoy the power, the prosperity, and the glory that it once had. I’m excited to see, whose name would immediately trigger in people’s heads when Cambodia is talked about, would be always respected, would always be glorified and thought of with gratitude and admiration even hundreds of years after his/her living.

I hope he/she was already born. I hope his/her life has been blessed with all the righteous surroundings where his/her talent are being optimized towards its fullest potential and where great love, commitment, bravery, vision, selflessness and willingness to make necessary sacrifices for this country has been been nurtured. I hope to see the rise of THE EXTRAORDINARY leadership that Cambodia and millions of its people have been dying for.

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Democracy – the best case practice? Not really, in nations like the United Arab Emirates!


A week-long trip in the UAE opened my eyes to a new perspective of leadership; a different type of leadership and government has really shined its way through all density of hot air across the desert.

Continue reading Democracy – the best case practice? Not really, in nations like the United Arab Emirates!

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Wrong Things Managers do!

Entering my new job, working in a new place, meeting a different group of people from my usual circle, coupled with my experience working in teams and around leadership, it’s clearer than ever now, some of wrong things that a lot of leaders like to do, which is quite toxic to their workforce and the entire organization. Let me take you through the 6 things with real examples from my current workplace:

1. Failing to create the needed culture that would bind the entire organization together: Where I’m working now, everyone is a separate individual without any common understanding towards each other. Everyone seems to just care about their own business, not really working for anything in common. I do my job; you do your job. People simply don’t care to care about what others are doing, and they hardly know about what others, other than themselves, are doing. This may be considered as a culture, which is the combination of many different cultures adopted by different individuals. The atmosphere is simply very dry: people don’t seem to care about each other; no-one seems to even give a shit when the boss is finishing his term and has to go back to his country in a week or so; no-one talks about any celebration, and everyone, including myself of course, can’t wait to go home when the clock strikes 5pm.

2. Distancing himself/herself too much from the employees; simply not involved and engaged: “I am your leader; I am the boss, and nothing besides work, about you, is my business.” My current boss is the type that comes to the office and goes straight into his working room, where he sits alone and would not come out unless he needs to actually go home or go outside for a meeting. It’s simply not in his habit to go around the office, saying hi and trying to build connection with people that work for him. After I having worked for almost 2 months, my boss seems to show no trace of interest over how I am doing, if I like my job, if I need any help. I myself, although feeling the need to be friendly, am always quite reluctant to take the first step and be the friendly type first, feeling concerned that the boss might not like it and see my behavior as being rude. Anyhow, I believe a good leader should be the one to start, to set the culture. If the leader is not the one to take the initiatives, followers/employees should never be blamed for not doing it either.

3. Not communicating: I really don’t like it when I was not told what is right and what is wrong in advance but I am expected to simply do it and get blamed if not having done it right. I was the newest member to this place and very few things were actually told to me. All that was given at the start was a big pile of employment contracts and pages of internal rules and policies to sign and maybe read. I wish my leader would take some time talking and setting expectations with me, not just for me to understand how he likes his employees to behave but also for him to understand what my needs and difficulties are. That would have given me a much better start of my work.

4. Not creating opportunities for employees, not prioritizing his/her people’s development: This place is simply not right for people like me, and I guess for anyone that aspires for a thriving career, aspires to work and continuously able to see own career advancement. I started as the head of Logistics and if I were to take this workplace as where my career lies, I honestly think I would be the head of logistics forever. That’s the easiest trap one can possibly fall into. The other day I went through some documents trying to grasp the working history of some employees here but yes, of years working for this organization, they have been holding the same position. Where is the opportunity to grow, where is the excitement? I enter as the head of logistics, why would I ever stay if I know that in 5, 10, 15 years’ time, I will still be the head of logistics?

5. Being a lonely man in the workplace: I’m pretty sure no-one in the organization really knows their boss – what he likes, what he dislikes, how much he loves his family, what was his previous job, what is his life motivation, what will be his next step after a two-year post here… He doesn’t tell and no-one seems to bother to ask. Personal life is simply out of question. It’s totally ok to not bring personal life into work or during working hours, but when there’s nothing prepared or planned at all outside working hours, our working life is simply too lonely. Actually my boss seems to be blending well with his expat friends, but I’m disappointed if it’s in his true intention to not try and mingle with the locals. I know that he’s been living in Cambodia for about 2 years now, and I highly doubt if he has made any good Cambodian friends.

6. Having little trust and hope for his/her employees: I was talking with a few people and we have a common understanding that most expats that work in Cambodia really put themselves on the level that is higher than Cambodians, looking down on the country and its people, seeing us as no-where near them, in terms of ability, skills, understanding, intelligence, etc. I hate it when they do that or unconsciously show it through their way of working, the working styles and behaviors. I do admit that they had much more advanced environments to grow in, the education that they went through is much better than ours and it’s natural that our typical workforce is not as good as theirs. However, please don’t act as if there’s no hope for us. I would appreciate their faith and their belief in us, not judging and easily giving up hope on us because of certain things that happen.

And let me tell you the effects of all these happenings, of all these allowed to happen by the leader. Clearly, ambitious and good people would not stay. Leaving this organization would definitely be the easiest decision I had to make, if I was not broke and in great need for something short-term to earn money. No-one, who is potential, who has vision and sees far into the future, who enjoys life and wants to also enjoy work,.. would stay.  Some that have been here for a while and could develop something would simply fly away once their wings are strong enough. And the organization that is unable to maintain good talents would never be able to realize or go even close to realizing its potential. No doubt the last guy before me quit and just the other day, one of the staff asked me about corporate working environments and showed her keen interest to explore it.

It’s actually quite sad to see this, the organization that aims to do amazing things and has funds far much more than many other places. If only these huge funds and amazing vision could reach its potential and, in the most efficient way, produce the results that would greatly impact Cambodia.

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