How great leadership pushes your brand up during this slowdown?

Authors: Mr Tan Wae Leng, Managing Partner, Chengco PLT & Mr Lam Kwai Soon, COO & Tax Managing Director, Cheng & Co. Group

Cheng & Co. Group empowers its advisors to take ownership of everything they do and maximize effectiveness when achieving their goals. Essentially, all advisors are leaders in their own right. What is the principle of leadership in Cheng & Co. Group?

In order to answer that question, we’re borrowing a few ideas from the following books:

  • Why Should Anyone Be Led by You? by Gareth R. Jones and Rob Goffee; and
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.

Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?

The book argues that traditional leadership values such as authority are basic but insufficient. To become inspirational leader, we need to adopt a set of complementing values, which includes:


By humility, we mean acknowledging to your people that you aren’t perfect, and sharing one or some of your weaknesses with them. In doing so, you build trust with your people and bond with them as you become more relatable. However, be careful with what you share with your people. Conversely, you ought to share weaknesses that can be a source of strength for your people. 


Not everything can be solved by being a by-the-book solver. Intuition, being able to sense what is not obvious, just as useful and important for a great leader. However, be careful with intuition, as it is based on your experience and assumption. Hence, you should re-evaluate those periodically to make sure that your instinct doesn’t get the best of you.

Tough Love

If you love someone truly, you’d do only what is best, giving what is needed, rather than what is wanted. As a great leader, you need a balance between giving those two. The important thing is to never soften up to the point that you forget to be strict and tough, especially when the situation calls for it.


Being unique sets you apart from everyone else. It encourages honesty and even fosters positivity, innovation, and synergy. However, too much of anything, even good, is bad. Uniqueness should be tempered by moderation, reasonability, and maturity. Otherwise, your uniqueness may give the impression that it’s acceptable to be different, even if it’s contrary to your company’s principles and practices.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The book speaks of a paradigm shift, the maturity continuum, and the seven habits (stages) that people may adopt in order to become effective in leading themselves and others.

Paradigm shifts refer to how we view any problem. The first thing we learn is that there is no one-solution-only problem. How we solve a problem depends, to a great extent, on how we view the problem.

The next thing we learn is the maturity continuum. According to the book, we start with being dependent. As children, we’re dependent on our guardians. As we grow older, we become independent. Many people think that this is the final stage, the supreme character. This is only half-true.

Being independent means being an I-person. In Cheng & Co. Group, our emphasis is always on providing great services to our clients. Therefore, we move to the opposite end of the continuum, interdependence. Interdependence means being a we-person, that is working for yourself and everyone else. This is the ultimate goal.

The way through the continuum is via the seven habits mentioned. The first three habits, once adopted, represent your private victory, which means you’ve mastered self-discipline, the first step towards being an effective leader. At that stage, you’ve moved from being dependent to being independent.

The first three habits are as follows:

  1. Accepting ownership of your life, including work;
  2. Beginning taking ownership by setting your goals seriously; and
  3. Prioritizing your goals from the most crucial to the least.

Successfully adopting the following three habits gets you your public victory, which is mastery of building an effective working relationship with others.

  1. Working towards win-win solutions in any situation, making your counterparts partners rather than adversaries;
  2. Understanding the other person in order for that person to understand you; and
  3. Achieving synergy in all of your undertakings by applying positive collaboration and innovation in coming up with your solutions.

The last or seventh habit is improving yourself continuously by reviewing yourself periodically and actioning any changes to be made.


As these books have served as effective reference materials for soft skill training on leadership, we recommend that you have a look to see what you could take away. The ideas shared in these books are useful in helping us, and you, to shape our corporate culture towards becoming more geared towards sustainable growth for our businesses.

This blog post is an excerpt from The Connection E-Magazine: SMEs Sustainability in Malaysia 2023.

Get your free copy of The Connection E-Magazine: SMEs Sustainability in Malaysia 2023, now available in both English and Mandarin.

Grab a copy
Share with your friends & colleagues