By virtue of International Women’s Day, we have celebrated our fair share of female bosses and the empowerment of women in the month of March. I was approached by several marketing managers to front their campaigns as a woman in power, or #GirlBoss, as they called it. I was flattered, but turned them all down, politely and humbly. The reason is simple: I am not a boss. I work for an organization. I work for my boss. My boss (Ms Jessie Sng, Head of Women, Men, and Parenting) is the boss you should look out for instead. And she works for her boss. And her boss is the CEO of Mediacorp. You get the gist.
In a sea of inspiring women, some of whom I am in absolute awe of, I am a nobody. Rather, I’ve been working towards my goal of becoming someone respectable like them one day. But I am nowhere near yet, and it is too premature to pat myself on the back over a few minor successes.
However, as with all constructive online publications, I would like to share three things I do care about as the Head of styleXstyle. And if there is anything here that resonates with you, I will be heartened.
It sounds romantic to pursue one’s passion and to become the “masters of our own destiny”. However, a business cannot lose money for too long. It is as simple as ABC. How else can I pay my staff who slog day and night with me? How do I pay myself? How do I pay for office rental, electricity, overheads, and all other running costs and burn-rate? I am not a well-to-do #girlboss working from the comfort of my balcony, writing about the things I love, with or without a viable business plan. That’s an ideal lifestyle even I dream about from time to time. Alas, it takes good contribution margined- P&Ls to realize all the fabulous plans you have for yourselves, and your society. You want to be able to give back. Not indulge.
2. EMPOWERMENT AND GROWTH
The watchword: succession planning. I want to build a business that will last even after I am gone. And the only way to achieve that is to groom and nurture right-hand men who will and who must eventually take over the reign. However, it is easier said than done. Like most mediocre leaders, I tend to micro-manage and breathe down my staff’s neck. Nothing seems to be good enough for me. I am tough and have often made unpopular decisions. In recent months, however, I have learnt to “hire well, manage little”. Empowerment is a win-win. And watching your colleagues grow and flourish is a beautiful experience.
There were times when I have dreaded going to work. It was so bad, I would lay in bed depressed on Sunday nights, wallowing in self-pity and praying for strength to persevere. The office environment was hostile then, and there was a lack of effective communication. There was just too much gossiping, and colleagues did not see eye-to-eye. It does not take rocket science to gather it must have been awful for everyone. As a leader, I bear full responsibility for such outcomes. And I have come to realize that work will always have its rough times. However, it does not need to be miserable. It can be challenging AND flexible. It can be serious, with sudden bursts of infectious laughter. A fun, free and constructive atmosphere, where work and play comes hand-in-hand will yield better results, or any results, for that matter. And now, I jump out of bed to start each day, because I know I am on my way to play.
There you go. Pursue your passion and live your life. And do it with kindness, generosity, and good vibes. You will be fine.