The key to be successful in the corporate world

The key to be successful in the corporate world: leadership.

Steve got out of college and got a job at ASoft Inc. as an engineer. In less than 2 years, Steve got promoted to be a manager due to his accomplishments. In other words, Steve was put into a leadership position. He had no experience leading others. Steve was good at managing the projects, which was what got him into the leadership position in the first place. ASoft sent him to the internal leadership development program to train new leaders. After the program, Steve found that he was doing exactly what he was doing prior to attending the leadership development program. Steve did what he was doing best: telling his team what to do and managing his projects to deliver. Since his exposure to the leadership development program, Steve knew he was missing something. He knew the difference between leadership and management. However, he could not apply the concepts of leadership to become the leader he wanted to be. He precisely did not know how. Steve kept going through multiple leadership training programs within ASoft Inc. over the years. Nothing helped him. ASoft Inc. even brought in outside trainers to train their leaders. Not much help to Steve. Though his team respected him, they could not grow higher than Steve’s growth.

What happened to Steve is what happened to more than 1 in 5 leaders in the corporate world. The  Deloitte’s “Global Human Capital Trends 2016” report (page 27-33) shows that over 50% stated that their organizations lack leadership. The report cites over 20% (more than one in five) companies have no leadership development programs. 89% of companies see leadership as importance to their successes.

Steve saw the missing link. He felt the weakness of ASoft’s leadership development program. This was despite of ASoft’s attempt to develop future leaders like Steve. It’s no surprise that in 2015 companies spent over $31 billion on leadership development program. Only 40% believe their leadership development programs have some value. 24% said that their leadership development programs have no value.

There are three reasons why corporate leadership development programs are ineffective as pointed out from the Deloitte’s report:

  1. Most leadership programs are evaluated by “smile checks”, which is based on how the participants enjoyed the program, the instructor, and unbelievably the food.
  2. A shift from a structured hierarchy to a flatter organization, which requires leaders who can lead at all levels of the company.
  3. A shift from positional leadership to transformational leadership, in which leaders can inspire, coach, and attract great people.

So the question for people like Steve is : “how can I become a successful leader?” or “how can I learn leadership so it sticks?”

The key to be successful in the corporate world is leadership. Steve recognized that key. What he should do is to invest in himself to become a better leader. Steve should not wait for his company to provide trainings.

Several components of effective leadership Steve should consider:

  1. Leadership development is a process. Leadership grows with the leader. In other words, leaders are learners. Once you stop learning, you should stop leading.
  2. Trust is the foundation of leadership. People follow leaders who they can trust and respect.  You must constantly upgrade your characters and leadership to stay on top. People won’t follow you if you are a weaker leader than they are.
  3. Take a closer look at your inner circle. You must surround yourself with people who not only can lift you up but also can compliment your weaknesses.
  4. Lead by example. People always watch your behavior closely. They won’t follow your words. They will follow your actions.
  5. Cultivate a winning mindset. No one follows a loser.
  6. Who will succeed you when you leave? As highlighted above, organizations are struggling with leadership because of succession. Without developing someone to replace you, you will be stuck in your current position.


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About the author: Hoan Do is a certified leadership coach with John Maxwell Team. Hoan have led multiple teams at Symantec Inc. across the globe delivering world-class solutions to protect consumers and businesses. Hoan is an expert in building highly performing teams. He believes that the best leader is the leader that could grow his followers to be leaders. Hoan has been organizing mastermind groups at work to share with other leaders about transformational leadership and coaching. He has trained many leaders both inside and outside Symantec via mastermind groups, workshops, and one-on-one coaching. Hoan perfected his own method “think and lead rich” to start leaders with the right mindset before equipping them with a complete leadership development solution.
If you are curious about the above method and how you can apply it to your life successfully, open your email and send me an inquiry at

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