But every man is more than just himself; he also represents the unique, the very special and always significant and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect, only once in this way and never again.
- Hermann Hesse, Demian
A dear friend recently recommended Demian to me. It is very much a coming of age story, one where the protagonist becomes aware that the world is much more than the cocoon he is enveloped in, constant battles with his emotions and intuition in a world insisting on proper decorum, eventually maturing enough to harmonize his actions and emotions and accepting life’s challenges to grow stronger as an individual.
The book resonates with the career journey I have taken over the past 15 years. It reinforced the importance of mentors and career coaching, led me to reflect on how technology has impacted the world and why it is crucial for us to accept and embrace this new world that has dawned.
Heralding Industry 5.0 — Harmony amongst people
Covid-19 accelerated the pace of technology adoption and forced many to adapt to the concept of work-life integration instead of the oft mentioned work-life balance. In the blink of an eye, Darwinism took over and only the fittest and most adapted to the new norm survived.
We are in the beginning throes of Industry 5.0, where the key focus are on
- Customer experience
- Personalized customization
- Responsive, responsible, sustainable distributed supply chains
- Interactive products and experiences
- Return of skilled manpower to factories
Looking beyond the materialistic, it is clear that we need to address existential issues stemming from our continued co-existence our fellows and with the planet.
People-centricity as the key to unlock doors
Personally I have always favored People-centricity, this can be in meetings with business and internal stakeholders, team interaction, or in mentoring and coaching sessions. This isn’t anything new, in fact this is mentioned in Matthew 7:12:
All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
To enable the culture of people-centricity within my team, I always go with the following 3 values.
- Building Trust: Trust is the most important aspect in any form of interaction. Authenticity, empathy, honesty, honor, kindness, openness and/or transparency are some of the ways we can use to build up trust. There is no singular answer that will address all situations and style. The methods you use depends on your personal communication and interaction style in addition to the individual or group you are interacting with. Naturally the way an introvert builds trust can be vastly different from an extrovert.
- Clear two-way communication: It is equally important to listen and to speak when appropriate. Often communication, especially from a senior staff is uni-directional. This typically results in an ivory tower impression where leaders are perceived as disconnected from the ground. Indeed there will be situations where this will be useful, however oftentimes having a ear on the ground will prove to be invaluable in building rapport and building up understanding of the individual. Knowing the priorities of your team members and what motivates them will allow you as a leader to craft your messaging such that it will be clear to the individual and enable them to absorb it in the best possible way.
- Orchestration: 天时，地利，人和， 策略 (strategizing for the right person in the right place at the right time). Timing is the last value which glues the first 2 together. It isn’t enough to simply build trust and have clear communications. The timing of the delivery needs to be appropriate as well. A well orchestrated strategy ensures that the message is delivered at the right time, place and to the right person. This helps to greatly improve our chances for success.
As I move onto the next leg of my journey, I felt that it is befitting to kick off with a new motto which will be my guide for the years to come:
fiducia, colloquium, tempus.
Trust, conversations and time.
Ending off with a final quote from The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim
if you genuinely care for others and look for ways to help others succeed, you won’t need to look for ways to boost your mood.
A selfless and kind act will lift your spirit and self-worth.
If you are having a bad day, see if you can find a way to help someone else.
Even a small gesture of help will make you feel better.