There seems to be a renewed interest in understanding HR practices in Singapore, especially in how good HR practices will help the SMEs. In my paper presented at the GSTF conference last year, i shared some results from a survey done amongst Singapore SMEs. HR managers were asked about the characteristics they require their leaders to have in the SMEs they are working for. Here are the eight characteristics:
- Strategic and Results-Focused: Ability to think strategically with a focus on getting results
- Innovative/Entrepreneurial: Creative, independent, resourceful and entrepreneurial
- Positive Attitude and Passionate: Confident, motivated, thinks positively and passionate
- People and Team working Skills: Good communication skills, relates well with people at all levels and exhibits empathy
- Technical Competence and Experience: Technical know-how and managerial experience
- Integrity/Honesty: Being honest and uphold commitments
- Commitment and Resilience: Hardworking, persistent and committed to their job
- Customer-Focused: Ability to identify and work towards fulfillment of customers’ needs
SME leaders are required to “get their hands dirty” at times, putting on the hat of an operations person, yet at the same time be able to relate and motivate the troops while not missing the big picture. In a way, SME leaders need to function like intraprenuers, managing their branch, department, production line as their own business.
There’s Chinese saying that i think embodies what is required for a SME leader – “大事着眼，小事着手”. It means to look ahead, yet to work on what’s right before us. To think big, yet be willing to start small. To be strategic, and yet operational. To plan, but always remembering to execute.
The question is, how do we find or develop leaders like this?