Archive for February, 2015

There is no right or wrong…or is there?

Feb 13, 2015 // No Comments » // Conversational Circles


“He has the thoughts and insights for the businesses…and a heart for our people.”

This was my response many years ago when my then boss was shortlisted as a finalist by a reputable HR publication for Best HR Director of the year.

It sounds paradoxical. How often we tend to associate a behavioral trait as being one-dimensional as if people can be simply boxed-in on a certain behaviour and they are not capable to complement such with another.

paradox |ˈparədɒks| noun a seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true.

Comments as such abound…

“She is so direct and blunt…incapable of being tactful.”

“He is so stubborn and always has a mind of his own…if only he is more open to trying new ways of doing things.”

“My boss expects me to be more flexible and adapt to changes…but my strength is being organised and making sure things are in order.”

We often use comparative terms such as  ’positive’ or ‘negative’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and sometime even ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ to evaluate tendencies and behaviours. But human behaviour are extremely multi-dimensional, complex and contextual. I prefer to use ‘dynamic’ and ‘gentle’ to describe our behavioural traits. In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang, which are often shortened to “yin-yang” or “yin yang”, describes how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent; and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

One of the many tools I have used in my years of coaching, leading and facilitation, Harrison Assessments is a highly reliable preference assessment tool that provides comprehensive data and information on job suitability and eligibility, paradox graph,  leadership development and many more traits and definitions in the report.

Do drop me a line to find out more about Harrison Assessments.


An Unaccountable Responsibility

Feb 05, 2015 // No Comments » // HR Insights | Stories Retold

accountability (1)

“But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” – 1 Peter 4:5 (NIV)

Where’s your sense of Responsibility?

For sure you can’t leave this to fluffy sensing and feeling…especially so if livelihood of people, organisation survival and perhaps nation building are at stake.

Not long ago I wrote a piece on Responsibility – “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility…Really?” and that sets me thinking deeper into the difference between responsibility and accountability.

You see, responsibility without accountability is like knowing What but not knowing How; knowing What is your role (title/position) and perhaps What to do but not knowing How your role and action really matters.


I would like to share a story that may help us further understand why without accountability, responsibility just isn’t enough…

I spent 6 years as a technician in the Singapore Armed Forces. In one of my overseas posting, I was leading a team of mechanics that support the maintenance, repair and inspection of a fleet of military vehicles to ensure combat readiness. One summer, before a major infantry exercise my team worked their socks off through two weekends (without day-offs) ensuring that the vehicles will be ready for the exercise. A day prior to the action when the infantry unit assigned drivers were moving out the vehicles from the garage park, one of the utility transportation truck has it’s front-left wheel almost completely disengaged from the wheel-hub causing major damaged to its rim. The maintenance logged indicated that two of my men were “responsible” for the wheel changed. Upon investigation, they were charged for negligence of duty and required to sign “extras” (a form of punishment that remove the entitlement of weekends off to perform guard duty).


Many years later, upon reflection I felt a sense of being responsible because as their team leader I am supposed to ensure their work are duly completed to the standard required. Hence without clearly indicated the standard of outcome and performance (accountable result) expected of them could have caused them to misplaced their sense of responsibilities.

Simply put it, accountability should be tangible and quantifiable. With accountability, responsibility make sense and help one another towards achieving results.

The term “holding one another accountable” indicated that without a set of tangible and quantifiable outcome-oriented deliverables, responsibility by title and position often leads to more misunderstanding  and confusion; worst if being abused or even a misplaced sense of responsibility which may lead to blame.

What and who are you responsible for today and how are you going to be accountable?