As a kid, I thought that being a leader was easy. It was all about how to ensure that my friends followed what I told them to do on every occasion. Whether it was on the football field, basketball court, playground park, or any other school activities.

However, as I am getting older, especially after I entered the life phase as a professional, I faced so many difficult situations where sometimes I doubt my leadership skill and capability. What was once seems a natural ability to lead, suddenly became a disastrous trait that ended with so many wrong decisions and regrets.

Still, I have learned countless valuable things from all those mistakes and uncomfortable situations, but here are five leadership lessons that I have learned the hard way, especially in the past five years:

  1. Understanding my leadership style should have been my number one priority. Realizing that I am a macro manager who put an emphasis on a democratic and participative style of leadership should have been the foundation of my self-awareness. Failed to recognize this in the first place brought me to a disaster of hiring the wrong people into my team, which resulted in high turnover and low morale of the team.
  2. Hiring the right people who would fit in with my leadership style is the key to building a solid team. After I have a clear understanding of my leadership style, it is practically easier for me to define what kind of people who could flourish under my direct supervision. Those are the individuals with their unique personalities, but they have the same thing in standard, which is a high level of accountability, willingness to learn new things, and comfortability to work in a demanding, fast-paced, and constantly changing work environment (in a positive way). In short, a contributor with a can-do attitude.
  3. Acting as a jerk is necessary (sometimes). No more Mr. Nice Guy for those low performers. Regular performance review every quarter would address what would be required to change and what are things that should be improved. If the laid-back approach did not work, it is entirely OK for me to become a jerk leader, just to ensure those low performers got the message — loud and clear.
  4. Trying to please everybody is not part of a leader’s responsibility. No matter how hard I have tried to make a thoughtful and considerate decision based on their situation, I would never please everybody on my team. Bill Cosby said it best, “I do not know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” So rather than spending my energy to make everybody happy, I should have focused more of my time and effort into making a decision which would benefit the company in the long term.
  5. The best leadership principle was taught by Ki Hajar Dewantara more than 70 years ago. The leading Indonesian independence movement activist, politician, and pioneer of education for native Indonesians in Dutch colonial times, Ki Hajar Dewantara was well known for his famous proverb in the Javanese language, “Ing ngarso sung tulodo, ing madyo mangun karso, tut wuri handayani.” Which translates, “(for those) in front should set an example, (for those) in the middle should raise the spirit, and (for those) behind should give encouragement.” — even though the proverb was used in the educational context, but it is still valid until today to describe a simple principle that I believe is the true essence of being a leader.

We can learn everything we need to know in theory about leadership, but all those arguments would be useless if we do not know how to implement them in real life.

Leadership can be taught, but on the other hand, I also believe that leadership is far better learned through various experience in our working lives. Learning by doing. Trial and error. Not afraid to make mistakes, as long as we learned from the past errors and ensured those same mistakes would not happen again in the future.

That long, bumpy, and probably painful process will mold ourselves as the better leaders in the future. After all, a smooth sea will never make a skilled sailor, or in this case a capable leader.


Haryo Utomo Suryosumarto

 is a Certified Master Coach of Engage & Grow, an organization which operates in more than 80 countries worldwide, with a vision to create a globally engaged workforce, one employee at a time. He has helped business leaders in various industries, such as retail, consulting, consumer goods, technology, and manufacturing, to increase the employee engagement level at their respected companies by an average increment of 184%. Haryo is also the Founder & Managing Director of PT Headhunter Indonesia, an executive search company based in Jakarta, Indonesia.


Unless you are hiring one of the Jedi knights, there is no point in talking about oaths of allegiance.as you might guess, by oaths of allegiance I mean contracts of employment. I find the contracts signed by newly recruited employees quite advantageous, yet I do carry some reservations about the included commitments regarding term of employment. The solution you’ve come up with to keep a capable employee in your company is designating a minimum term of employment and enforcing it through contract? Or is it providing them with an environment they want to stay and work in, being the indispensable employer?

Numerous experts have looked into the characteristics of an indispensable employer from various points of view. The pay, work benefits, workplace environment, leadership are only a few of the possible topics of discussion. Yet at the foundation of all these, much more sophisticated initial steps are in effect.

To be respected, to respect

At the base of every relationship in the world, the need for respect resides. If you rip the book out of your two year-old’s hands when she was playing around with it, that in turn accumulates a reaction in her. You need to devise a better way than bullying to teach how to go through and put down a book. This need that’s crucial for even a toddler is a must for workplace relationships. The employee expects from the institution an honored and respected code of ethics. This is a cornerstone. And the employee tests said respect with simple but effective methods. Do you realize that to this day, the foundational notion of respecting the employee is still on the table of executive teams?

Not without trust!

The second factor just as crucial as respect is trust. As you can see, we still haven’t made it to more pragmatic points such as competency, talent, or development programs. We are still at the very base of the map of needs. Because where there is no trust, it is impossible to talk about dedication. Trust comes about with transparent and healthy communication. Then, neither side makes a mistake to spoil the game. Even if they do, they find the courage to take responsibility for said mistake, and keep the trust intact. If we wish for the people to invest themselves and put their heart into their work, there is no other way but basing our relationships with them on trust. Trust. Make them trust. Enjoy being a trustworthy employer, executive and company.


We want to be valued. We want to be appreciated for our efforts. The invisibility cloak is a nice fantasy, yet in truth we all wish to be more visible. Appreciation is a cornerstone of

In a motivational environment, appreciation is the cornerstone you can establish, for less than the cost of a single minute of the most expensive consultant you can invite to your company, is appreciation. Whenever you can find the time, not simply during periods of wage increase.

Coaching Culture

Imagine an environment where everyone makes an effort to understand one another, where the right questions make way for the right answers. This is one of the fast ways of learning and growing together. Training programs that increase the productivity of the buddies you assign to new employees or the natural born leaders that establish themselves as such in the company. In a system where all executives are able to act as mentors, the risk of hold-up decreases.


We now all know the new generation looks for a sincere purpose and meaning in the work that they do. If there is a meaning behind the building you are erecting, they may carry stones for you. And they will do it with great enthusiasm. This is one of the most important qualities that set them apart. We all think we serve a purpose, yet this purpose cannot solely be money. We are in search of something that crowns moneymaking, something emotional and genuine.

I started with saying that you will not be hiring Jedi knights. There are countless talented Jedis among the new generation. Yet how many Jedis do we have amongst us, to help them balance their hearts and minds?


We are now underway with a hugely successful Engage & Grow Global launch in India  


. The sectors and trends where Global Opportunities are coming to India to establish or expand business in India. Rich Maloney’s speech at the panel during the fair was one of the most remarkable events.We’ll be back in 4 weeks to kick off our  first coach training and to set up our first office, in Delhi.


Effective communication is one of the founding principles of a successful business. Without clear, open and direct communication a business is far more likely to encounter problems that could have a negative impact on operations: from a profitability and synergy aspect. Therefore it is paramount that an organisation integrates effective communication by implementing systems that allow every employee to effortlessly connect. Although effective communication should be a priority on the agenda of all CEO’s, it takes a great investment of time for the best results to show. It takes effort, repetition, understanding and thoughtfulness for great communication to flourish.

However, here are 4 really simple strategies you can implement to create an atmosphere of communication and alignment.

1) Send a Weekly Letter to Employees

Every Monday, send a personally written e-mail to all employees explaining the progress of the business and to thank everyone for their hard work. Something just as simple as this can have profound effect on motivation, productivity and mood. Employees will feel like they are a real part of the company, are accountable for the business performance and therefore more inclined to work harder. This kind of communication presents a great opportunity to truly connect and communicate with the entire organisation.

2) Communicate Comfort When Tackling Issues Facing the Organisation

Addressing business negatives is equally important as praising the negatives. Some businesses are guilty of putting more emphasis on the positives and avoiding the negatives. The best companies focus on what isn’t going right, address the problem, learn from the mistakes that have been made, and then take action the next time a similar situation arises. By having a unified organisational approach to dealing with setbacks, it creates an atmosphere of solidarity and togetherness. This generates a sense of belonging and illustrates that employees input and perspective are critical to the functioning of the business.

3) Hold Monthly Meetings With the Team

If your organisation has multiple offices spread across a nation or even an international presence, you should plan to travel to have face-to-face meetings with these groups: no matter what the size is. The value of face-to-face conversations far exceed a Skype call based on the fact that personal interaction and qualitative conversation are much more appreciated. It’s all about effort. Employees will see that you have made considerable contributions to assure that everything is going ok with them. During these conversations, it’s important to remember not to spend the whole time lecturing or talking about off-topic criteria. You should spend the majority of the time listening to employee’s needs and expectations. You will be able to learn a great deal about what is really happening day-to-day in these meetings and based on what is brought up, you can make qualified leadership decisions that benefit everyone. Respect and integrity can be earned, something that is extremely difficult to attain over a long period.

4) Answer All Employee Mail Within 24 Hours

When illustrating your commitment and engagement with employees, you should always aim to answer any questions or queries that employees bring forward within 24 hours. Granted, in this ever-growing digital landscape, CEO’s are busy throughout the day tending to the vision of the business. However, perhaps the greatest benefit of this increase in technology is the effortless communication that instant messaging provides. Set aside 1 hour of your day to respond to employees e-mails. At the end of the day, your employees work hard for you every day: communicating value to your customers and growing the business to new heights. Your team wants to feel appreciated and valued above all else, and this can be met by committing to effective communication as a method of increasing engagement and accountability.

Karrie-Ann Fox




In this unique and powerful book, top-level executive coaches – Dr Marshall Goldsmith, Brad Sugars, Mark C Thompson and Rich Maloney – introduce the Engage & Grow global movement that is underway. Learn how through employee engagement, you can activate the hearts and brains of your employees to be more motivated, and in most cases without them actually really knowing how it happened.

Engage & Grow’s video-book series and hardcover book guide you through the 6-step blueprint to building an engaged workforce in only a matter of weeks and months.

The book can be purchased on Amazon by clicking here.


Engaging your workforce can be a tricky task at times and what works for one member of staff might not work for another. It’s a creative science and finding the right balance for each person is a tough call sometimes.

Even though there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, there are some techniques and tactics that have just never made the cut. It is worth taking note and knowing which strategies that have been tried in the past that don’t work, or may end up doing more harm than good.

Here are five things to avoid when attempting to engage your employees – and some tenets to take on board when you truly want to engage.

  1. Assuming the same solution for everyone

Personality differences, past experiences and future direction mean that all employees are different. Although employees  come together to achieve a common goal at work, they have different motivations. One common mistake some managers make is assuming everyone responds to the same feedback or culture. This isn’t true, and when you notice an employee is feeling burnt out or disengaged, the most important thing is to seek a custom solution that will make them feel uniquely valued.

  1. Lack of communication

Communication is essential in any workplace relationship, and sometimes employees incorrectly assume all communication is directive and about the task at hand.  However, communication needs to go well beyond just communicating about just the tasks to be done. Proper communication means employees and managers know what is expected of them, communication is two-way and open. During times of high stress (such as redundancies, mergers and team restructures) and during business-as-usual, it’s crucial managers negotiate the stress and talk with their employees to avoid anyone feeling in the dark on important issues.

  1. Providing superficial perks

Some employers turn to superficial work perks like free food, subsidised activities and Friday night drinks in an attempt to boost morale – but without an underlying culture of trust and support, these mood boosters are futile. Employees might be lured into the company with the promise of a shiny culture, but they’ll soon see past this when they feel undervalued for their skills and expertise; and this is when they become disengaged. If they are not engaged, then the perks can create more problems as people can begin to expect them, and only work when there is something in it for them. Instead, employees should be working together as a team for the success of the business.

  1. Concentrating too hard on the work, not the people

A manager’s role is to manage the people first, and not get caught up in their own work; if they constantly have their head down and computer on, and don’t take the time to support their employees, then their staff can quickly feel disengaged. A leader who isn’t connected with their team will also find it difficult to spot issues as they happen, and leave it too late to intervene leading to lost productivity and burnt out employees. When people feel valued and connected they are far more likely to go above and beyond.

  1. Not providing opportunities to grow

Some employers are reluctant when it comes to training their employees, fearing that if they allow their staff to upskill, they will leave in pursuit of a better position. While this may sometimes be the case, in general training your staff carries far more benefits to your company than it does negatives. Employees again feel valued and are more likely to be committed to supporting the company.


How do you know when your staff is engaged? Do you know what signs to look for – and what to do when they start to check out mentally?

Employees should be engaged in their work more often than not, for the benefit of their own wellbeing and for your bottom line as an employer. Engaged employees are often more productive and produce better quality work, as they’re personally invested in and connected to their outcomes.

Engaged employees willingly go above their job descriptions

People who are invested in their work and the company want to outperform themselves and develop their skills and careers. It’s for this reason that they don’t stick themselves in a box and restrict their tasks to only what matches their job description. If you see someone agreeing to new and interesting tasks, it’s a sign they’re engaged.

Engaged employees are positive

While it’s impossible to be happy 100% of the time, engaged employees come into work with a positive affect more often than not. They boost their coworkers’ moods and always try and participate in conversations, team building and lunches. On the other hand, people who are disengaged will often bristle with stress, or exude boredom.

Engaged employees are after more than just a payslip

While some staff might show up and get tasks done just to guarantee they get paid, engaged employees find fulfillment in more than just the money. That’s not to say they don’t value a fair wage or salary (it’s important to pay staff what they’re worth) but that they value things like skills development, new knowledge and deep connections with their co-workers.

Engaged employees speak highly of the company

When asked about their job or workplace, these employees don’t hesitate to give it a positive review; although there are some aspects about their work they don’t enjoy, on the whole they’re an advocate of what they do day-to-day.

Engaged employees feel like they’re supported

One of the biggest reasons employees leave jobs is because they’re unsatisfied with leadership. Conversely, they stay in roles because they are supported and listened to if problems do arise.

Engaged employees express their thoughtful opinions

If your workers are thoughtful about their jobs and keen about making progress, they’ll raise their opinions when it’s relevant – whether that’s in meetings or otherwise. If they are interested in seeing the company succeed, they’ll put their mind to making this happen.

But what about disengaged employees?

From time to time, employees may become disengaged – it’s only natural. If this period stretches on for a long time, though, it can signal other issues that need to be addressed. If you notice employees aren’t performing to their usual standard, or have become withdrawn at work, speak to a consultant at Engage & Grow. We’ll be able to create an action plan for you and your employee, to get them back on track.


Employees can become disengaged for many reasons – maybe it’s because of stress, burnout, a negative culture, lack of communication or boredom. Learning how to recognise the signs of disengagement will help you support this employee and bring them back on track, for the sake of the company, the team and your employee.

They’re often absent

Frequent or unexplained absences could be a sign your employee is disengaged from their work. When we feel undervalued or bored, it can be hard to muster up the courage to turn up to work each day. Notice the patterns in their absenteeism.

There is conflict in the office

While we all strive to put our best foot forward most of the time, there are moments when our ropes have worn too thin, and we find it hard to keep things together. In these times of tension, interpersonal conflict can be rife, and your employees may become snappy and reactive towards each other. If an employee is blowing small things out of proportion or taking on a bitter tone in the workplace, this could be a sign of disengagement.

There’s a lack of collaboration

Many happy staff members cite their team as a significant support at work, but  disengaged people may withdraw from collaboration, stay silent in meetings and opt out of group activities.

Their work lacks nuance and quality

Putting in the bare minimum could indicate the employee doesn’t connect with the team or isn’t interested in the task at hand. Their lack of connection means they are careless with detail and make simple mistakes – which can be a sign of disengagement especially when they produced quality work in the past.

Similarly, people who feel like the people around them undervalue their work, or who expect harsh criticism, may not see the point of putting in too much effort.

There’s an increased staff turnover

While there might not be much you can do when the employee has resigned, seeing an increase in the turnover rate should be your signal to provide support and guidance to their colleagues, who might be in similar situations.

What should you do about these signs?

To support your employee, open up the lines of communication, speak to them about their needs and reassure them that you are there to help. Listen to what they have to say without judgement and then think about what you could do to support them. Chances are, this employee wants to keep working with you; they need some support to help them flourish.

Noticed some of the warning signs in one or more of your employees? For advice on how to manage your disengaged workforce, speak to an Engage and Grow consultant. We’ll put your team on the front foot when it comes to employee engagement.


It is with great excitement that we announce that we have been named as a finalist for the 2018 Optus My Business Awards in the Export Business of the Year and Training and Education Business of the Year category.

This prestigious awards program truly represents the top performing Australian SMEs and their inspiring leaders.

The Optus My Business Awards, which covers 28 categories, acknowledges best practice within a particular industry sector, as well as individual business leaders, excellence in customer service and achievements in innovation, corporate social responsibility and workplace culture.

Winners from company related categories will be shortlisted for the highly coveted Business of the Year Award. Adam Zuchetti, editor of My Business, said it is another big year for Australia’s longest-running SME awards program, with a record number of submissions this 2018.

“Small and medium-sized businesses are undeniably the backbone of our nation’s economy, as well as the heart of our local communities. It is wonderful to be able to recognise them on their achievements in service delivery, product innovation, workplace excellence and commitment to sustainability.”

“Every year, both the number and the quality of submissions we receive for the Optus My Business Awards gets better, making it an ever-more impressive feat for those stand-out businesses who are named finalists. Our judges really have their work cut out for them in trying to select this year’s winners!”

He added: “On behalf of the entire My Business team and our long-time partner Optus, I want to congratulate all of our finalists on this stellar achievement and wish them the very best of luck for the main event.”

The winners will be announced at a black tie awards dinner on Friday, 9 November at The Star, Sydney.


When most people think of bullying, they imagine physical fighting and obvious verbal abuse, and assume it will be easy to notice and intervene when the time comes.

But bullying and harassment in the workplace can be subtle, and it can be difficult to spot the signs. Sometimes, employees don’t step forward when they’re being bullied – perhaps they don’t recognise it’s happening to them, or maybe the person they’re complaining about is in a position of power.

In the short term, bullying can make employees feel inadequate at work and hinders their performance and productivity. Over the longer term, it can affect their mental health and disengage them from their role and the workplace. Failing to intervene at the right time could also erode trust in management and create more tension in the workplace.

For these reasons, it’s critical that managers learn to recognise the signs of bullying and harassment, so they know how and when to step in. At Engage & Grow, we provide support to managers and HR representatives on how to manage bullying and its effects. If you notice any of the signs, speak to one of our consultants.

Recognising the signs

The subtle signs of bullying can be easy to miss, but managers should be on the lookout for patterns in mistreatment. It could be someone repeatedly intimidating, lying or withholding information from a particular person, or it could be justifying their inconsiderate behaviour.

More obvious signs could include persistent exclusion from meetings or activities, constant unnecessary criticism about someone’s work or behaviour, or not utilising an employee’s skills to the fullest extent.

Perhaps the easiest thing to spot is the reaction of the employee being bullied. If you notice someone has become unusually withdrawn or disengaged in their work – and especially if this occurs over an extended period – talk to them and find out the reason why. Especially if they are feeling undermined by their superior, they may not be immediately forthcoming, but offering your support could make all the difference.

Prevention: Education and culture

From the beginning, managers should take care to foster a supportive company or team culture so that employees know that, if they step forward, their problems will be heard.

Organising group training on bullying – or including policies in the induction package – is a helpful step. If the policies apply to everyone, people don’t feel singled out or victimised for their behaviour and can take responsibility.

Have a procedure

Set out a procedure or plan for what you and other managers should do in case of bullying. Having a go-to checklist of actions for how to spot and mitigate abusive behaviour will make the process easier and more time-efficient and, once again, will also prevent the employee from feeling targeted.

While workplace bullying can sometimes be difficult to spot – after all, managers are busy people and can’t dedicate all their time to monitoring their staff – it’s essential that you watch out for the subtle signs of abuse. Contact the team at Engage & Grow for assistance in intervening at the right moment and creating a culture of support for the affected staff.

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