Happy Boss Day

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International Boss Day isn't commonly celebrated, but it probably should, as leaders often have the toughest jobs. We at HRO love a good celebration so we spoke to two HR leaders for their thoughts on what makes a great leader. TL;DR The best bosses:

  1. Inspire and support colleagues
  2. Demonstrate empathy and agility
  3. Are inclusive (eg, being mindful of time zone differences in setting up meetings)

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Carollyn Toh, HR Director, Asia Pacific, Willis Towers Watson

Q Spill the secrets for us - what makes your boss a good leader? 

A good leader should inspire and support colleagues. As bosses, it is important that leaders also form a real connection and trust with people.

An example is Kristy Banas who was recently appointed as the Chief Human Resources Officer at Willis Towers Watson (WTW).

At the start of her leadership, she conducted a survey with all HR colleagues globally to solicit our feedback which would be used to help identify future HR priorities. This demonstrated her willingness to listen by adopting a participative leadership style to ensure that she understands the support her teams need.

Another great quality of Kristy is her inclusiveness. Being a global company operating across different time zones, Kristy held two townhalls, one of which was conducted in our Asia Pacific time zone to ensure that colleagues in this region were able to join at a convenient time. She is very mindful and respectful of time differences and this helps to build that authentic, inclusive connection.

aditi nov 2021 carollyn toh wtw bosses

Q How did your boss help you become a better version of yourself?

My manager, Eloise Martin, Senior Director, Global Human Resources, has an enterprise-wide mindset. Her leadership style has influenced me in the partnership I have with our internal stakeholders.

At WTW, we find opportunities in leveraging HR solutions to support our business stakeholders so that they can also build high-performing teams and make WTW the best place to work. I now make a conscious effort to apply this mindset in my leadership journey.

Q As a leader, what's the one quality (or message) you make sure to inculcate in your team, no matter what their function or profile?

Always bear in mind that we work as a team and not as individuals. We have a WTW ‘Ways of Working’ where we collaborate with colleagues among different parts of HR (such as with the HR Business Partners, Segment Talent Advisors, Centres of Excellence, HR Service Delivery to name a few) to deliver solutions back to our clients. 


Stanley Tok, Deputy Director or HR, M1

Q Spill the secrets for us - what makes your boss a good leader? 

I’ve worked with dozens of leaders and observed that the essentials of good leadership have evolved over time. Today these would be empathy and agility — traits that our senior leadership team, helmed by our CEO, Mann, embodies

What makes our CEO a good leader is his foresight to think ahead and recognise that it is a continuous journey of discovery; what works today may not necessarily work tomorrow. That requires M1 to constantly build and position its talent base in order to seize opportunities as they arise.

Another important trait is his ability to empathise with our front-line teams grappling with multiple business priorities and changing circumstances such as those caused by COVID-19 and digitalisation. 

aditi nov 2021 stanley tok m1 bosses

How did your boss help you become a better version of yourself?

Our CEO believes in giving employees the chance to share their views and ideas in order to have different viewpoints and a superior solution. Mann also gives his teams the space to develop their solutions so that they own their solutions and are in the best position to adjust them accordingly. 

As a leader, what's the one quality (or message) you make sure to inculcate in your team, no matter what their function or profile?

One message that we want every employee at M1 to know is that they are not alone. Our team embarked on a massive transformation amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, with close to 1,500 people across functions coming together to achieve one unified goal. This would not have been possible without the support of the entire team.

Visionary leadership is a great start, but we also recognise that one person may not have all the answers and that is why we surround ourselves with competent colleagues who support each other and work together to deliver exceptional services and offerings.


Lead photo / 123RF 

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