What are bosses looking for when hiring? What are the qualities that might help a person succeed in his or her career? A quick chat with our C-suite MBA alumni: Hari Krishnan, CEO of PropertyGuru Group, Kun Jiang, CEO and Founder of BioMark and Murad Syed, CEO of Analytics Pte Ltd, sheds some light.
Kun Jiang, CEO & Founder of BioMark, MBA Class of 2013
In your opinion, what makes a successful leader?
Kun Jiang: A successful leader sets a clear vision. They often serve a greater purpose beyond themselves. They also see their team members as individuals and know how to bring out the best in each person, and how to drive the team to achieve as a whole.
Hari: In my experience, three elements make someone a good leader: 1) Consistency: People know what to expect from you. 2) Fairness: Treating different people the same in the same situation. 3) Focus: Instead of trying to do it all, focus on your key strengths.
Murad: It is also very important for the leader to understand what motivates each individual in the team, as everyone has different personalities.
A successful leader is not someone who can just give motivational speeches, but also actively listens to everyone. He needs to act as a moderator of a discussion, as many of the best ideas come from a collection of diverse individuals.
What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
Murad: With more startups in the market, people are getting into leadership roles at a very young age. The lack of experience results in the person having to learn leadership skills on the go. In addition, with social media and smartphones, the demand on the leaders to be constantly engaged with their network has increased tremendously.
Hari: Rapid changes in technology have made an impact on jobs. The question for leaders then is: How do you develop people for the jobs of tomorrow, when your existing skills may be outdated soon?
When faced with two equally qualified candidates, how do you decide which one to hire?
Hari: I look for someone with a positive attitude; one who has strong motivation and passion.
Murad: We try to see which candidate aligns best with our organisational culture. That does not mean that we try to limit diversity. Rather, we want to see who is most focused on learning and growing.
Kun Jiang: Especially at a startup, hiring the right people from the very beginning is crucial. I look for people who will not only fit in our company culture but who will also help us enhance the culture.
Murad Syed, CEO at Analytics Pte Ltd, INSEAD MBA Class of 2013
What is the most important quality a person should possess to succeed in their career?
Kun Jiang: To have a successful career, you must always be curious to acquire new knowledge and skills. Most importantly, your character and reputation will determine the longevity of that success.
Murad: You should not be afraid of failing and not shy about admitting failure.
Failure is acceptable as long as you can recover and learn from it. In order to learn from failure, you need to be open to feedback and accept your weaknesses.
When you are a leader, you need to be cognisant of your strengths and weaknesses. You have to capitalise on your strength and augment your team to cover your weaknesses.
Hari Krishnan, CEO of PropertyGuru Group, INSEAD MBA Class of 2005
How has INSEAD helped you in your career?
Hari: One important lesson I got out of my INSEAD experience is the value of a diverse network. Putting different experiences and ways of thinking together makes the final solution so much more robust.
Kun Jiang: The INSEAD alumni network has been extraordinarily useful in getting my business off the ground. Furthermore, the knowledge acquired during the programme, in particular from courses such as Negotiations and Organisational Behaviour, has helped me every day in my work.
Murad: When I was leading a turnaround of a large logistics company in Pakistan, I got the opportunity to apply learnings from different courses: Marketing, Strategy, The First Hundred Days, etc. The financial modeling skills also came in handy during the acquisition stage of the turnaround.
Any tips for aspiring leaders out there?
Hari: Leadership is about making others’ problems your own and driving their success and development. If this excites you, give yourself permission to make mistakes, and I wish you success!
Murad: There isn’t a single leadership personality or style that attributes to successful leadership. The main thing that matters is that as a leader you need to be comfortable with yourself. As a leader, you have to figure out how to inspire and motivate people.
There is no such thing as a born leader. You grow into being a leader and you don’t need a promotion or the right title to start leading!