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Hands-on or Hands-off?

Hands-on or Hands-off?

  • 19 October 2019
  • By Ow Yong Weng Leong
  • 7 mins read

Hands-on or Hands-off?

Striking a balance between hands-off and hands-on leadership is an art, and for Ow Yong Weng Leong, Vice President, Group Brand & Communications, it is one that he continues to hone. Hear more about his leadership journey with OCBC.

Q: Could you share more about your journey with OCBC and your current role?

I joined OCBC Group Brand & Communications in 2009, with a background in agency advertising and Sports Council (now Sports Singapore), and time has flown by in the blink of an eye since. It has been a great learning journey for me, having first started supporting the Treasury and Transaction Banking businesses, before moving on to support other parts of the bank, such as Consumer Financial Services and Human Resources.

Currently, I lead a team supporting brand and communications initiatives for the business banking divisions (Global Corporate Banking, Global Commercial Banking and Global Transaction Banking), Group Operations & Technology, the Bank’s Fintech Unit The Open Vault, AI Lab and our private banking subsidiary, Bank of Singapore. It is the largest portfolio I have managed to date.

Q: What are your key takeaways in the 10 years you have been with the Bank?

I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to be exposed to the different parts of the Bank over the years. Besides the domain knowledge I have built, I’ve learnt to be much more adaptive. There is no one-size-fits-all approach given that working styles can differ across the various groups of colleagues I collaborate with. That said, I have tried to anchor my approach on three principles – be earnest, keep an open mind and always respect the colleagues I work with.

Q: With brand and communications being such a dynamic and time-sensitive function, how would you describe the best leadership style suited to the environment?

It is often said that different leadership styles are required to thrive in different scenarios. So, I do not think there is one particular style best suited for the environment the brand and communications team functions in. Nevertheless, I try to be candid, transparent and remain open to feedback from the team, so as to make more informed decisions. What’s left is to pray for the best thereafter!

Q: What are some challenges you have as a leader?

I am constantly reminding myself of the need to be balanced in my management style; not to be overly hands-off or hands-on. While it may be more efficient to give instructions on what needs to be done, it is equally important to give adequate room for the team to assess, learn and grow. Choosing the right approach at the appropriate moments is something I am constantly working on.

Q: What are some of the qualities you look for in your team members?

Simply put - commitment and stamina.

It is important to demonstrate to the business units we support that we are committed to them and have their interests at heart to gain their trust. Without which, we will lose our credibility.

Stamina is key to persevering even when the chips are down. Your idea may not be accepted today, but it does not mean that it never will be. I also encourage my team to make as many connections – internal and external - as possible. In any role, and particularly in our line of work, a strong network is key to excelling in the job.