HR Summit Asia: 5 experts share leadership strategies to future proof your career


How do we ensure that we are not replaced by a robot or an algorithm? How do we ensure that our career is future proof? These are critical questions for all of us.

Last week I was asked to present at the HR Summit in Singapore. The theme of the conference was HR 4.0: Rethink the way you work. I presented about Developing Leadership Resilience and Developing a Mentally Resilient Culture.

We heard speakers from organisations like Facebook, Google, Cisco, Kellogg, Accor Hotels, Henkel, BBC, and many others. Each described the challenges of changing fast enough in today’s workplace.

These were my top 5 leadership takeaways.

1. Focus on human skills & be in the right role working for the right company – Dr Lynda Gratton

Dr Lynda Gratton is from the London Business School and set up program looking at the future of work. She outlined how many jobs will be replaced by Artificial Intelligence. Her research shows that if we want to remain relevant at work, we should focus on developing our human skills. Skills such as:

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Teaching others
  • Active learning
  • Creativity
  • Active listening
  • Critical thinking

Interestingly, she maintains there are only two questions we should be asking ourselves to determine if we are in the right role and working for the right company:

  • Am I learning heaps each day?
  • Does my role and my company keep me healthy?
2. Know the secret to success in a volatile world – Jason Jennings

Jason Jennings is a leadership, growth, culture, and innovation expert and author. Having worked with many extremely successful organisations around the world, he is convinced that the secret to finding, engaging, and keeping great talent is to have a purpose that excites employees.

A purpose is not a vision or a mission. It is a journey that energizes.

Key components of a purpose:

  • Bold
  • Not what you do but why you do it
  • The non-financial reason for existence
  • Fixes an injustice
  • Not a goal but a journey

Steps to turning your purpose into your culture:

  • Brief, big and memorable
  • Must evoke an emotional response
  • Shows deep conviction
  • Hire only those that buy in
  • Get rid of those who don’t
  • Talk about it and celebrate it constantly
  • It will become muscle memory
  • Eventually it will become your culture
3. Develop leadership qualities that produce innovative teams– Geeta Singh, APAC Head, People Development, Google

Geeta outlined how HR meets science in Google’s people division. She described how critical leaders are to the success of Google, even though when the company was first launched, the two co-founders believed that if you hire smart people they will manage themselves. They have changed their minds. Their data tells them that these are the top 10 qualities of their best leaders:

  1. Is a good coach
  2. Empowers team and does not micro-manage
  3. Expresses interest/ concern for team members success and personal wellbeing
  4. Is productive and results oriented
  5. Is a good communicator
  6. Helps with career development
  7. Has a clear vision/strategy for their team
  8. Have important technical skills that helps them advise the team
  9. Is a strong decision maker
  10. Collaborates well across Google

Their 5 principles of innovation are:

  1. Focus on the user
  2. Fail quickly and learn – start up mindset
  3. Share everything
  4. Data, not opinions
  5. Let people pursue their dreams.
4. Strive to keep people over process – Tadhg Bourke, Director, Global Employee Services, Netflix

Netflix have grown extraordinary quickly since they started delivering movie DVD’s by post to their customers. They now have 125 million customers worldwide and are the largest entertainment content producers in the world.

The Netflix culture is built on these 3 principles that keep people before process:

  • Highly Aligned, Loosely Coupled
  • Freedom & responsibility
  • Context not control

For example, their travel and expense policy is:

“Do the right thing by Netflix.”

For more details about how they embed a culture that puts People before Process see how they explain it.

5. Make caring the new unfair advantage by Graeme Cowan

I humbly offer my contribution regarding the critical ingredient for teams that outperform and outlast. 😊

Charles Darwin’s observation that “the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals, because they succeed in adapting themselves best for the environment”, has never been truer for business today, where disruption is rampant.

As we rush into the digital revolution, workplaces can seem less human, and yet we all yearn to feel accepted for who we are.We want to be part of a supportive team, have a purpose that excites us, and have the opportunity to grow. Whilst being part of a caring team has always been the secret of great team, in these volatile and uncertain times it has become even more essential. So how do we create a more caring culture? We believe it comes down to THE CARE EQUATION.

THE CARE EQUATION is when we apply caring to how we manage and lead, we thrive. Self-care = thriving self. Team-care = thriving team. Customer-care = thriving customers.

The 7 evidence-based reasons why caring is good for us and good for business can be viewed here.

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