David Seres talking about leadership lessons
David Serés, Human Resources Director, Boehringer Ingelheim (Southeast Asia and South Korea), on why leaders need to display agility as well as embrace diversity, in this interview with Jerene Ang.

Q Share with us your leadership journey to date and the biggest lessons.

The biggest lessons are related to mindset and people. In my journey, I’ve always tried to keep an open mind, stay curious, positive, and humble. There is an opportunity to learn something new every day, you only need to keep your eyes and ears open. Working with people with different backgrounds and thoughts, and contributing to a common purpose opens a vast array of growth opportunities.

Q What are some leadership best practices that have proved evergreen?

Leaders are as good as the team members are – no leader can succeed long term without a competent and committed team around them. Based on this, my best practices are:

• Give trust to teams and individuals and treat them with respect, irrespective of nationality or culture.

• Practising active listening is very important. Then, set a clear direction while keeping the ability to adapt to the changes that may come up.

• Last, keep a growth mindset and empower teams and individuals.

Leaders need to show passion and commitment in what they do.

Q Given how rampantly leadership is being disrupted, how have you seen the needs from leaders change in recent years?

Currently, leaders need to deal with a level of complexity which has no precedent. And it’ll only become more complex. The world is accelerating, business decisions must be made faster than ever, there is much more available data and multiple sources of information, there are multiple generations in the workplace having different expectations from the job and the employer, etc. So, leaders need to display agility to manoeuvre throughout such a complex landscape, they need to embrace diversity as a source of growth and innovation, and they need to understand that action needs to prevail from perfection.

Q In this backdrop, what does the mindset of a good leader look like to you?

Leaders need to show passion and commitment in what they do. They need to be driven by high standards in terms of performance but also in terms of strong ethical principles. Leaders need to stay genuine and credible and walk the talk.


This interview was published in Human Resources Online’s January-February 2020 edition of the Singapore magazine and will soon be published in the Q1 edition of the Malaysia magazine.


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